Chris Roos by Chris Roos

Week 214

Good afternoon everybody peeps. I hope you’ve all had the very best of weeks.

Current bidness

We have, once again, spent the majority of our time working on Inside Government. We’re continuing to make good progress with the internationalisation work, although it’s possible we might do a little more work than initially agreed so that we can be sure we’re leaving our Whitehall compadres in the best place possible.

In other GDS related news, it’s great to see that the Cabinet Office have migrated to the Inside Government platform. Being so closely involved with the development of the software means that I occasionally lose sight of the bigger picture. Seeing the Cabinet Office on definitely reinforced the scale of this project. Although there are many, many people involved in making this happen I do have to single out Neil Williams as the person that’s really driven the vision for this product from the beginning. It’s great to think about how far things have evolved since we started the project back in September 2011.

Future bidness

We’ve spoken to two potential customers this week. They both had projects that we felt we could’ve helped with and we’re quite excited by one in particular. The other one, unfortunately, came with a rather large tender document and it’s been our policy to-date not to enter these more formal tender processes. I think James M did a great job of explaining why we don’t go in for these processes in an email, and I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting the relevant paragraphs here.

We don’t usually respond to invitations to tender, because we find that written requirements, however carefully specified, don’t do a very good job at communicating what is needed. Instead we prefer to collaborate in person with a client to formulate a set of user stories which form a “minimum viable product” (MVP).

The discussion to arrive at these user stories is almost more important than the output in that it means we end up with a clear idea about the problems we are trying to solve and the motivations for wanting to solve them. This means we have all the context we need to suggest the most appropriate solutions.

We then work incrementally and iteratively towards this MVP, demonstrating working software to you at very frequent intervals to garner feedback. We find it’s much easier to have a productive discussion about some concrete working software than it is to have such a discussion about abstract concepts in a document. In this way we home in on a system that best serves your needs.

Although we’ve declined to enter the tender process, we’ve told this particularly company that we’d gladly host them in our offices to talk more through how we’d approach development of their application.

Other bidness

Tom took a couple of days staycationing at the beginning of the week and got to visit some local attractions that you never quite find the time to do in everyday life. One highlight was the old operating theatre near London Bridge, which is somewhere I’ve been wanting to go for a while now.

James M continues to do an incredible job ensuring users of Mocha are well looked after, going as far as creating new test projects in an attempt to replicate the problems being reported. This is not an easy task but James manages to handle it without any fuss.

As well as investigating the practicality/possibility of importing printer units in bulk from China, James A has also managed to write a very in-depth piece (if my calculations are correct it’s 193 tweets long!) on the internals of RSpec. His efforts have been rewarded by being featured in Ruby Weekly 133 and Unboxed’s dev newsletter.

My extracurricular activities have mostly been focussed on time lapse photography. Way back in 2008, I made a time-lapse video of Ramsgate Harbour by periodically downloading images from the harbour webcam and then stitching them all together. This idea has continued to be of interest so I’ve started investigating how I might do something similar with a camera I own. I’ve been playing with Lapse It Pro on my Android phone and that seems to work really well. I’ve also surreptitiously been taking an image of the office every 5 minutes for the last week, using our Y-Cam YCW004. It’s by no means the most exciting time-lapse in the world but here’s a snapshot of our office on Wednesday this week.

A day in the life of GFR HQ from Chris Roos on Vimeo.

And with that, I’ll bid you all farewell as Tom and I have to go drink some beers with our GDS chums. Until next time.

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