Re:develop is a yearly development conference held in Bournemouth. This year’s offerings featured a series of interesting topics ranging from ‘The Cloud’ to ‘service workers’ to ’employee evangelism’. Createful’s developers Shane, Stanton and Dwayne provide a run-down of the most interesting and exciting takeaways from the event…
Government sponsored Agile
The conference kicked off with a talk by Roo Reynolds titled ‘Agile in the Public Sector’, in which he explained about how government departments finally got to grips with Agile and how the Government Digital Service (GDS) are using digital to transform government.
Shane: What I found interesting about that talk was how they made use of a physical wall with sticky notes to show progress, where in this digital age you would expect people to use some sort of digital version.
Dwayne: Yeah, seeing their wall was really cool; it looked like it really worked for them. Seeing that we are all in the same physical place at Createful, maybe we could try to integrate that in our process as well?
Dwayne: Another thing that he seemed to put emphasis on was “Show the thing”. Meaning that you can build and build and build but until you show someone the actual thing, you can’t get feedback and you can’t adjust if it needs some changes. This seems very logical but I think people sometimes forget that, or they are hesitant to show an unfinished product.
Shane: I also remember Roo saying that having 5 users for testing is good enough as they tend to find most of the bugs or problems. The best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford, and elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources.
Next up: a talk entitled ‘Employee Evangelism: Make Your Team Badass’ by Melinda Seckington. This covered how to set a great company culture and how to share it with the world.
Dwayne: It started off with a great metaphor about strawberries. Melinda posed the question: “If you have a wooden box of strawberries with a plain label and next to it a transparent box with a detailed label and delicious ripe strawberries clearly visible, which would you choose?”. She said that the same thing can be applied to companies; when they are open and transparent about who they are, there’s a higher chance of getting picked.
Stanton: So does that mean doing open-source projects etc.?
Dwayne: That’s part but not all of it; it is also talking at conferences, blogging, videos etc… Getting your employees to actually share things. A lot of people (including me) will probably say “I am not a good writer” or “I am not good at public speaking” and a myriad of other reasons to not do those things. It’s important to give them a reason and an environment in which they can do that, to talk about their fears and try to lessen them. A couple of things she suggested to get started with writing blog posts, for example, could be collaborating with another team member to write a post, and internal-only company posts.
The death of native apps?
This lead to a talk called ‘An introduction to Service Workers’ by Phil Nash.
Stanton: This seemed like a really boring topic, but actually it was riveting and they compensate for their dull name by having an awesome trailer!
Dwayne: So what are ‘service workers’?
Stanton: As I understand it, they replace something called ‘App Cache’, and provide a way to store a web app’s functionality for when a user is offline. They can hook into events such as when the user comes back online.
Shane: Apparently the App Cache API is terrible to use, which is why ‘service workers’ were created. They allow you to have control over network requests so you can do things like load files from cache before asking the network. Could this be the start of the end of native apps?
Stanton: Hmmm, It certainly blurs the boundary between native and web further. That and the looming introduction of Android Instant Apps.
Shane: Unfortunately, browser support is minimal at the moment so they can only be used as a enhancement.
Stanton: Hopefully Safari and Edge will jump onboard at some point, because they seem to have a lot of potential.
Interesting fact: [inlinetweet prefix=”null” tweeter=”null” suffix=”null”]the dinosaur that appears when you are offline in Chrome is known as the ‘Downasaur’.[/inlinetweet]
Shane: You can also trigger tasks to happen once a user comes back online. This would be useful if you had a chat app, so it will send your message once you come back online. You don’t even need to have the browser open!
Stanton: One example I remember is the Guardian website, which shows a crossword puzzle if there is no connectivity.
Shane: That’s a good example of an enhancement rather than depending on it.
Stanton: Yep. Also you would add it to your homescreen like any other app, so it blurs the distinction in user’s minds also.
Re:develop 2016 was certainly informative, we really enjoyed the talks as well as catching up with likeminded individuals from our industry. Keep up the good work!