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Eoin Kelly

The Ember runloop

A deep dive into the motivations and benefits of the Ember runloop

Preamble

This blog post is a snapsnot of the Ember Run-loop Handbook on Github. Ember is an evolving framework so the occasional care and feeding required to keep this document current will happen there.

Introduction

You can get started with Ember application development without understanding the runloop. However at some point you will want to dig in and understand it properly so you can use it skillfully. It is my sincere hope that this handbook can be your guide.

We are about to take a deep dive into the Ember.js runloop. Together we will answer these questions:

  1. Why does Ember have this runloop thing?
  2. What is the runloop?
  3. How can we use it skillfully?
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Josh McArthur

Multistep form validations with Rails and Wicked

A wizard from a wizard

Multistep forms are the bane of the developer’s existence. No matter how you cut it, the fact that multiple request/response cycles are required to create a single resource goes against the grain of a whole bunch of acronyms representing fairly popular patterns and specifications (e.g. HTTP). Despite that, they’re a pretty well established usability pattern when you just have a tonne of information to collect and not much space to do it in, so it’s well worth keeping a method on hand to throw these types of forms together when it’s gotta be done.

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Pepper Curry

Agile, Meet Design

A Meeting of the Worlds

When I came aboard as the designer at Rabid, I was thrown straight into an Agile development workflow without much warning. I was a bit overwhelmed, as one generally is at a new job, but it was exacerbated by the fact that:

  1. I didn’t know Agile. At all.

  2. Agile and design != instant success.

  3. As a designer I was massively outnumbered by developers.

Eek! Not to worry, I’ve gotten to a good place with all three of these things and I’m happy to share my findings.

My context is interesting because Rabid is a fairly unique group, in the sense that their developers are all very open to design input and generally welcome good design as a help rather than a hindrance. This made the transition to working across multiple projects in an Agile fashion much easier. However, as I’ve been going along, I’ve run into some interesting general gaps between what Agile supports and where design happens.

I also held a group discussion with @kellective and @amandadorrell at the Gather conference in Auckland a few months back, with a room full of designers and developers. We got a pretty resounding consensus about where tension points lie and also where people have found benefits:

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Josh Forde

On Taking Startup Lessons from Unicorns

Alan Schaaf Founded Imgur and Came by Wellington

Alan Schaaf, Imgur founder, swung through Wellington a couple of weeks ago. As a highly successful entrepreneur of the classic American ‘overnight success’ ilk, it gave me pause for thought about startup myths and lessons we can take away from the experience.

If you don’t know Imgur (pronounced ‘Imager’ I discovered - don’t follow that link, you won’t make it back to this blog post…), they are closely linked with Reddit as the Reddit website doesn’t provide means for images to be easily uploaded and shared. If you’re familiar with any cat meme online, you’ve likely seen his website. This year, Imgur raised $40m funding from Andreeson Horowitz after 5 years of bootstrapped (self-funded) operations.

Alan Schaaf, Imgur founder - photo by the US Embassy in NZ

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Sandra Clark

Give your Retrospective the time it deserves

How we gave the humble retro a makeover

Not long after I started at Rabid, I heard someone mention a retro, it didn’t take me long to discover they weren’t talking about my favourite era of collectable homewares!

After attending an Agile workshop at Boost New Media it became clear that we might not having been doing justice to the Sprint Retrospective.

Armed with a supply of stickies and sharpies, and with a willing team to experiment on, we held a Retrospective on our Retrospectives. It felt good to talk about why we had marginalised the retro (low on energy, fear of criticism, takes too long) and discuss how important a good retro could be for the team (positive feedback, improving our process and productivity). We came away with a Retrospective Working Agreement and a plan for future retros; giving it the time and respect it deserves.

But I felt I needed more. Back to Boost I went for another workshop on Retrospectives and a reading list that included Agile Retrospectives (by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen).

We’ve had several Retrospectives since with much better outcomes. We now allocate around 45 minutes to our retro, we talk about process, feelings, the nitty gritty of a Sprint and we try to have a bit of fun as well. I think the team is enjoying it (and not finding it a chore), but maybe that’s the lure of a bowl full of lollies. Either way- we are making progress. For data gathering we have tried the Learning Matrix; Glad, Sad, Mad and Speedboat. Good exercises for smaller teams are hard to find, Retr-O-Mat is a great resource (thank you Gavin). I’d love to hear about your experiences with Retrospectives and what exercises you have found successful so please tweet me at @NZSandraJC.

If you find you are skipping your retros, or only allocating 10-15 minutes for it at the end of another meeting, I encourage you to re-evaluate this and give your retro a makeover as well. It has worked for us.

And if you really are in the market for some great retro homewares - drive over the hill to the Wairarapa and visit Fuzzy in Carterton, a hidden treasure.