Tom Ward by Tom Ward

Week 195 - In which harmonia almost rises

It’s Tuesday morning. It’s 12 o’clock. It’s time for… Tom publish his weeknotes, very late again.

Most weeks we tell you about what’s been happening on GOV.UK, our main client project, which is gearing up for the removal of its beta tag on the 17th. This week we can’t say as much as usual, because we haven’t been working on it. We’ve taken a one-week break (on which more below). As it’s being developed in public, you can always check for yourself.

So what have we been doing with our time? As James mentioned last week, we took time off from client work in order to get more momentum behind our own things. So this week, all four of us have been put all our effort behind Harmonia, our random task assignment tool.

If you’ve been following our weeknotes (and if not, where have you been!), you’ll know that Harmonia is a tool we’ve been using ourselves to decide who should water our plants, pay our tax bill, invoice clients and even write these weeknotes. We find it useful and thought others might too, so we decided to turn what was an ugly duckling of a ruby script into a beautiful swan-like web application.

We’ve been building this app on and off for a while, but never all worked on it together. Our hope (which we didn’t quite achieve) was that we’d have something to launch by the end of the week. So, on Monday we all came into our office and talked. We talked about what we had, what could be improved and what needed to be improved. After much discussion, we used Trello to organise and prioritise a list of things to do. Then we got to work.

Inevitably some things caught us out. Timezones and calendars, url schemes, discussions about cucumber, and Graham Ashton forcing me to go for a pint (or did I ask him?). The obstacles were varied and many. Despite all these, over the week we made loads of progress and we’re very nearly ready to open it up to our first few users. If you want to be amongst them, please sign up now.

I think dedicating a week to do this was definitely a success. It felt as though we made a lot of progress. Sometimes it’s easy getting on with work on your own, but on other occasions, being all together can make all the difference.

One thing that interests me is that after a week of hard work, on the surface it seemed like there was a lot less to the app than there had been before. As with many things in life, making something smaller and simpler takes more effort, not less.


This week’s notes were bought to you from the edge of space by Felix Baumgartner.

If you have any feedback on this article, please get in touch!

Historical comments can be found here.