Software Development

21 Oct 2010

Sunwapta Solutions is Growing

By |2017-04-03T11:50:39-06:00October 21st, 2010|Categories: Doug's Blog, Dream Teams, Software Development|

In the next couple of weeks I will be adding a careers/jobs section to our website and fleshing out the specific requirements.

We are growing and looking to make some strategic hires over the next month to year. We are expanding both our consulting practices and our products divisions.

We are going to be looking at cultural fit and aptitude ahead of technical skills (which can be learned).

So far I see the following positions required in no particular order:

  • Product Manager
  • Infrastructure Support
  • User Interface Designer/Developer
  • Developers
  • Sales and Marketing

Product Manager – A person who can own the product, get input from all stakeholders and plan out […]

20 Oct 2010

Make Decisions for Your Customers

By |2017-04-03T11:50:44-06:00October 20th, 2010|Categories: Business Strategy, Doug's Blog, Software Development|

Three things stuck out in my mind today from reading the two books by 37signals a while back:

  • Scratch your own itch,
  • Decide what you won't do,
  • Make decisions for your users.

Scratch your own itch – Essentially, if you solve a problem you have you will know something about it and you will have passion about the solution.

Decide what you won't do – There is tendency to watch competitors and listen to customers to chase the feature list. 80% of non-core features rarely get used and they just make the tool more complex for everyone esle. Stick to your core and decide what […]

20 Sep 2010

Doug the Plumber

By |2017-04-03T11:51:18-06:00September 20th, 2010|Categories: Current Events, Doug's Blog, Software Development|

There are surprising similarities between the process of plumbing and building and supporting software. I didn't realize that until the other day.

Recently the pump that runs hot water through out in-floor heating stopped working. This was fairly easy to determine as:

  • The floor was getting colder,
  • The pump was not making it's normal humming noise, and
  • It was overheating (the last time this happened I burned my fingers learning this).

The last time the pumped seized up I called in a plumber. I had to wait a week for them to show. Then they put in a new pump. The total cost was over […]

9 Sep 2010

Software Post-it Notes

By |2017-04-03T11:51:33-06:00September 9th, 2010|Categories: Doug's Blog, Software Development, Technology|

Keeping things simple we would have just used post-it notes and a whiteboard or wall. We have lots of concurrent projects and could have used up lots of walls.

But we also have remote clients, developers and testers.

So we decided on a software solution. This is what the OnTime Planning Board looks like with client names removed.


Of course it is all drag and drop.

Note that we are currently using 1 week sprints with two major releases for these types of projects. I have found that longer sprints make it hard […]

8 Sep 2010

Pushing Out of the Comfort Zone

By |2017-04-03T11:51:41-06:00September 8th, 2010|Categories: Doug's Blog, Mindset and Motivation, Software Development|

Recently we had a project where we received a rather complicated mail merge Word document that needed to be generated from a web site. If we could handle the Word documents directly, we would have a very flexible method of building similar applications for our clients in the future.

We looked at third party tools and several looked promising initially.

However, they seemed to fail on handling the nested if statements properly. The output in Word or PDF format was rendered incorrectly.

So we looked at using the docx (XML) format and the Microsoft docx SDK. The Word docx format saves the content […]

26 Aug 2010

Don’t “Tell” Me It Is Not Possible

By |2017-04-03T11:51:56-06:00August 26th, 2010|Categories: Doug's Blog, Mindset and Motivation, Software Development|

Recently we building an application for a customer and we had to merge two existing PDF reports into one.

We already have a license for a utility that creates PDFs from HTML web pages. It can also append or merge existing PDFs into its output. But could it just merge two PDFs into one without printing a page first?

Well rather than waste time, our developer asked the vendor via e-mail support. The first attempt got dumped by their spam filter. The second took a few days to generate a response.

In the meantime our developer couldn't wait for the answer and made it […]

11 Aug 2010

Mid-Life Crisis?

By |2017-04-03T11:52:21-06:00August 11th, 2010|Categories: Books and Courses, Doug's Blog, Mindset and Motivation, Software Development|

What exactly causes a mid-life crisis?

A mid-life crisis can apply equally to your personal life and relationships, your business (normally after 5-10 years), your career, your spiritual life, etc.

Why do some people do drastic things and others weather the storm with just a minor blow-up?

You start out as a young adult with wide open possibilities and few obligations. You have the potential to write your own story.

As you go through life (or business) you can acquire obligations. A spouse, pets, kids, loan, a mortgage are some of the obvious ones. You require growing income to pay for all the obligations […]

2 Jul 2010

Tracking Tools for Agile Software Development

By |2017-04-06T12:56:20-06:00July 2nd, 2010|Categories: Doug's Blog, Software Development, Technology|

Further to my previous post, we decided to purchase Axosoft’s OnTime Enterprise Edition. The software will allow us to track:

  • Bugs and defects
  • Features
  • Tasks
  • Incidents

The cool part is the support for scrum/agile processes including a planning board, burn-down charts, reporting, release and sprint planning, etc.

It includes:

  • an SDK and API so we can extend it into our applications
  • a customer portal
  • incoming and outbound e-mail support
  • an iPhone application
  • integration with VIsual Studio and SVN
  • Desktop and Web versions
  • Etc.

To be honest, when evaluating products like these (it lists at $3995 US for a 10 […]

28 Jun 2010

Tuning Web Service Calls in .NET

By |2017-04-03T11:53:31-06:00June 28th, 2010|Categories: Doug's Blog, Software Development, Technology|

Troubleshooting a single applications is an art. Troubleshooting a single application with a database requires yet more skill.

When you get in a multi-tiered service oriented architecture you may have:

  • Multiple applications including web services,
  • A database server,
  • Multiple servers,
  • Third party or open source components,
  • Networking,
  • Firewalls,
  • Load balancing,
  • Web servers,
  • Operating systems,
  • Hardware, and
  • The .NET Framework

You need a very broad set of skills for this (or a team), access to a search engine and some luck.

If you are finding that your web application is calling external web services and seems to be under-performing, be sure to check your Machine.config default settings. Out of the box, IIS and .NET have […]

18 Jun 2010

More from the Great Game of Business

By |2017-04-03T11:53:53-06:00June 18th, 2010|Categories: Books and Courses, Business Strategy, Doug's Blog, Software Development|

I've included a few more quotes and my thoughts on the book, "The Great Game of Business" and how it applies to what we do.


"… to stay in business you have to be the least cost producer or have something nobody else has."

Being the least cost producer would give you some advantages, but I think being in the same range is probably strong enough for most companies in the commodity world. Of course having a unique or perceived value proposition is always better. But don't forget those costs, you don't want to be throwing money away; chances are, […]