Atomic Spin

Answering “How Long Will This Take?” and Other Impossible Questions

Atomic Spin

As we decide where to focus, figure out the best way to implement things, or evaluate costs on any project, we hear the same questions: “How much will this cost?” Or “When will it be done?” Or even technical questions like, “How many records can this process per second?”

You Need to Be Involved with SoftwareGR

Atomic Spin

Are you a software designer or developer looking to connect with others in West Michigan? How about an owner of a software consultancy who would like some exposure to potential new employees? Maybe you lead a department of software designers and developers and would like to expose them to new ideas?

Atomic Welcomes an IT Operations Engineer and a Delivery Lead

Atomic Spin

This spring, Atomic gained a Delivery Lead in Ann Arbor and an IT Operations Engineer in Grand Rapids. Now that they’ve settled in, I asked each of them to tell me about themselves and what it’s been like working at Atomic. Stephen Guyton. Stephen is Atomic’s new IT Operations Engineer.

Agile Misconception #2: We Don’t Need Documentation

Atomic Spin

Documentation means a lot of different things to different people. I’ve also found it’s one of the top five topics to cause a developer to cringe. If you’ve used a waterfall software development process, you’re all too familiar with documentation.

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Make an Impact with Customer Journey Maps

Speaker: Kirui K. K., Co-founder and CEO of Tanasuk Africa

If you want to offer a better user experience, it can be tempting to track each and every data point in your product. However, this can quickly get complicated and overwhelming as you collect more and more data. How do you know which metrics will help you improve? Kirui K. K., Co-founder & CEO Tanasuk Africa, wants you to know that analytics don't have to be complicated to make an impact - no matter the size of your company. Join him as he explains how to create a customer journey map, then use that map to figure out the metrics you need to know - and how to use them.

Villainous Personas – Anticipating the Users You Don’t Want

Atomic Spin

You know and use personas for a majority of your projects, but I’m here to tell you that you may have missed a category of user. A very important one. A not-so-friendly one. Users Who Mean Harm. Let’s pretend you’ve created a beautifully functioning and user-friendly app.

Five Quick Phone Tests

Atomic Spin

When I started testing websites, I had a list of quick “attacks” that could surface common issues quickly. Now that I’ve been doing more and more testing on mobile devices, I’ve come up with a similar list for them. Run on Your Oldest Phone First. I’ve found that issues tend to occur more on Android than iOS, mainly due to the large fragmentation of the Android market.

How TypeScript Shaped our Entire Codebase for the Better

Atomic Spin

Over the last year and a half, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a web app built in TypeScript. I came to Atomic with no web development experience at all.

JavaScript-free Web Development with WebAssembly, Bolero, and F#

Atomic Spin

A while back, I remember hearing about WebAssembly and how it would finally release the web from the grip of JavaScript. Languages that transpile to JavaScript don’t cut it). Although WebAssembly doesn’t make the news much these days, it turns out there is quite a bit of work being done in this area. Since I do a fair amount of back-end work in F#, I was looking for a way to use F# client-side, and that’s when I discovered Bolero. Bolero.

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Writing a Great Software Development Contract, Part 3 – Warranties, Indemnifications, and Liability

Atomic Spin

Custom software services contracts should call out the promises you and your partner make to each other. The contract should also define who will be responsible, and to what degree, if certain issues arise. Disclaimer. This post is not formal legal advice. I’m not a lawyer. I recommend you work with legal professionals for all of your software contract needs. This is the third post in a series that will cover common considerations in the following categories: Overview & Principles.

Build Product Progress with a Strong Data Culture

Speaker: Nima Gardideh, CTO, Pearmill

Have you ever thought your product's progress was headed in one direction, and been shocked to see a different story reflected in big picture KPIs like revenue? It can be confusing when customer feedback or metrics like registration or retention are painting a different picture. No matter how sophisticated your analytics are, if you're asking the wrong questions - or looking at the wrong metrics - you're going to have trouble getting answers that can help you. Join Nima Gardideh, CTO of Pearmill, as he demonstrates how to build a strong data culture within your team, so everyone understands which metrics they should actually focus on - and why. Then, he'll explain how you can use your analytics to regularly review progress and successes. Finally, he'll discuss what you should keep in mind when instrumenting your analytics.

BLOBs with Knex and PostgreSQL

Atomic Spin

My team and I recently decided that we should store user-generated binary files in our PostgreSQL database so that a user could download them at a later time. This is different from uploading those files to something like Amazon S3 (which we’ll likely consider migrating to at some point down the road). Initially, we implemented this solution using a bytea column, but we found that the retrieval performance was unacceptable.

There’s a Relational Database in Your Unix CLI

Atomic Spin

Did you know that there’s a relational database hiding in your Unix shell? There really is, it turns out. A friend of mine was recently telling me about his discovery of the join command, which allows you to combine data from multiple files that contain tabular data. Let’s take a closer look. Examples. For these examples, I’ll be using two files.

How to Ensure a Successful Mobile App Release

Atomic Spin

Releasing a new version of a mobile app can be a stressful process. The first few times you do it, your customer base is probably pretty small, so it doesn’t feel like a very big deal. However, after your user base grows into the thousands, the pressure really starts to build. The fear of releasing a bug that could potentially impact tens of thousands of people can be unnerving for even the most confident developer.

Want to be a Better Consultant? Learn to Work Strategically

Atomic Spin

Looking to level up your consulting skills? One thing I’ve observed among our more senior Atoms is a mastery of approaching work strategically. What Do I Mean by Strategy? As consultants, we juggle a lot of different concerns and goals.

What Is (and Isn’t) Product Management?

Speaker: Steve Johnson, VP of Products, Pragmatic Institute

Product Management is one of the most exciting - and most misunderstood - functions in technical organizations. Is it strategic or tactical? Is it a planning role or a support role? Many product professionals are unclear about what is (and isn't) product management. After all, product management spans many activities from business planning to market readiness. In this session, we’ll examine many product activities and artifacts for product strategy, planning, and growth, and introduce a simple tool that you can use in your organization to clarify the roles of product management and others. Steve Johnson explores the many roles of Product Management in this fun talk focused on why product managers should obsess on problems instead of solutions.

How to Avoid Stakeholder Gridlock on Your Software Project

Atomic Spin

Have you ever been to a meeting that involved a dozen or more people, that constantly went too far into the weeds, that couldn’t come to a consensus, and that left you feeling like nothing was accomplished? It was horrible, right? You probably never want to have that experience again.

Starting Strong – 5 Ways to Establish Good Team Dynamics & Norms

Atomic Spin

You just kicked off a project, and it went well! Everyone is happy, hopeful, and on the same page. But how do you keep that momentum and camaraderie going? As a Delivery Lead, here are five things I try to do at the beginning of every project. Run a Team Norms Exercise.

Why Your Big-Team Software Project Needs a Utility Player

Atomic Spin

Projects with big teams introduce a slew of interesting problems–problems like keeping developers fed with multiple tracks of work, understanding areas with large technical risks, and sharing knowledge. On a recent project, we developed a role to help solve these problems.

A Guide to Evaluating Closed- and Open-Source Libraries

Atomic Spin

Picking the right libraries for your project is important. The wrong ones can create long-term headaches and introduce technical debt that will eventually be very expensive to correct. When making your choice, there are a few important things to think about, and a few common things to avoid. Considerations for Closed-Source Libraries. Libraries are either open-source or proprietary, and there are different considerations for both.

Your Post-Launch Toolkit for Understanding Your Users

Speaker: Brittney Gwynn, former Director of Product, Simple Health

If you've ever launched an MVP, you know that the journey has only just begun. How do you figure out what to do next? You know that you need to look at how different user segments react, but how do you quickly distinguish signal from noise so you can iterate and improve? Join Brittney Gwynn, former Director of Product at Simple Health, as she explains how you can use early customer feedback, usage data, and continuous experimentation to optimize your journey to product-market fit. Whether you're at a brand-new company, or looking to innovate within a more mature organization, or anywhere in between, you'll come away with a new skill set, ready to make the most of your launches.

Choosing the Right Software Partner, Part 4: The Engagement Management Process

Atomic Spin

A strong engagement management process keeps complex, custom software development projects on track for success. It’s essential that you (the client) are regularly involved in conversations about budget, scope, and key decisions.

Choosing the Right Software Partner, Part 3: Evaluating Experience

Atomic Spin

Experience is the best teacher. When evaluating custom software development partners, it’s important to know if your potential partner has a track record of success with companies like yours and projects of similar complexity.

Reviving the Handwritten Thank-You Note: Tips, Tools, and a 4-Sentence Template

Atomic Spin

I’m pretty sure you already think handwriting thank-you notes is a good move. So why don’t you more often? Does it seem old-fashioned? Too much work? Overly time-consuming? Not sure what to say? Do you associate it with notes you had send to your aunt, thanking her for your itchy birthday socks?

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Creating a Fast, Easy Daily Log with Bear & aText

Atomic Spin

I am a big note taker, mostly because I tend to be forgetful. No matter how significant or recent a discussion may be, I often forget the details of what was said or decided–unless I take effective notes.

The Magic of Intent: Start Knowing The Goals of Your Users

Speaker: Terhi Hanninen, Senior Product Manager, Zalando, and Dr. Franziska Roth, Senior User Researcher, Zalando

It's important to know your users - what are their preferences, pain points, ultimate goals? With user research and usage data, you can get a great idea of how your users act. The tricky part is, very few users reliably act the same way every time they use your product. Join Terhi Hanninen, Senior Product Manager, and Dr. Franziska Roth, Senior User Researcher at Zalando, as they explain how they were able to reach a new level of user understanding - by taking their user research and segmenting their users by point-in-time intent. You'll leave with a strategy to change how your product team, and organization at large, understands your users.

Choosing the Right Software Partner, Part 2: Evaluating for Great People

Atomic Spin

Engaging with a service firm isn’t like buying a product. It’s about hiring a set of people to do work on your behalf. Yes, the company as a whole matters, but you also need to be confident that the people there have the right set of skills for your project.

With Jetpack, Android Development Has Leapfrogged iOS

Atomic Spin

Over the past six years, I’ve done a lot of iOS development (and written a lot about iOS ). I would say it’s been the primary focus of my career. But as a software consultant, I need to be flexible, and I’ve done my fair share of Android development as well.

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My Long, Winding Journey to “Software Developer”

Atomic Spin

If you take a look at our team page today, you’ll see a little chart showing that almost all of our makers have a college degree, save one very small slice. That slice is me. My journey to becoming a software developer at Atomic is quite distinct because I chose that unique path.

Choosing the Right Software Development Partner (with or without an RFP), Part 1: Evaluating Longevity

Atomic Spin

Finding the right custom software development firm for your project is a tough job. Even a thorough RFP process won’t save you if you’re not looking for the right things. Software projects are notorious for being late, over budget, and frustrating.

A Simple Framework for Complex User Goals

Speaker: Hannah Stegen

How can you measure and affect your users' behavior if they're not doing something that's easily measurable? You can monitor usage, activation, retention, and more, but those metrics don't always align with every one of your goals for your users. Hope is not lost, however: with the right framework, you can still make sure your users are on track. Join Hannah Stegen (she/her), Customer Success Manager at Crescendo as she explains how you can monitor even the most complex user journeys by breaking them up into Attitude, Intention, and Behavior.

How to Set a Budget for Your Custom Software Project

Atomic Spin

Software is never done—there are always more features and functions you could add. So how much should you budget for a custom software project? Some companies keep throwing money at the project without any budget at all.

A “Grand Unified Theory” of Agile

Atomic Spin

Okay, that’s a bit grandiose, I admit. But I often see tweets or posts about how people don’t “get” capital-A Agile. Tweets like this and this point out common faults. Everything they say is technically correct but not especially useful. Pointing out all of the not-get-its in the wild won’t make people “get it” better, so these sentiments are useless. I’ve thought a lot about this problem, and I’ve tried to assemble a bit of a theory of Agile that would provide a framework for improvement.

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Your Backlog Isn’t a To-Do List – It’s Self-fulfilling Prophecy of Success or Failure

Atomic Spin

Your backlog is an imperfect, always changing, self-fulfilling prophecy for how your software will be built. Not only that, but at a software consultancy like Atomic, it’s also a prophecy for how the engagement will end and deliver on your brand promise.

Four Steps for Inheriting a Codebase

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In the last two years, I’ve worked on a few projects passed on to me by other teams.

Your 2-Part Metrics Audit for High-Value Products

Speaker: Sam McAfee, Product Development Consultant, Startup Patterns

You know what they say: what's measured improves. As product managers we're in a golden age of being able to get all sorts of metrics and run all sorts of experiments. But what are your measurements and analytics focused on? Are they really truly objective? Do they contribute to the ultimate vision of your product? And is everybody clear on that vision? Join Sam McAfee, Product Development Consultant, as he takes you through a two-part measurement audit. First, you'll learn how to make sure your measurements actually align with your product strategy. And second, you'll learn how to evaluate your culture of using measurements, so future experiments will more consistently provide high-value results.