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

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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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Production Excellence: Practical Lessons from Site Reliability Engineering

Speaker: Liz Fong-Jones, Principal Developer Advocate, Honeycomb.io

Modern software organizations build increasingly complex distributed systems with many moving parts. As senior software leaders, we often struggle with noisy alerts, grumbling between Dev and DevOps, slow incident resolution and many other related pain points. It’s hard to figure out what to do with this increasingly difficult problem, yet it’s clearly our responsibility to deliver features and production quality. We are excited to be joined by Liz Fong-Jones, who has a deep understanding of what it takes to implement SRE-type practices in many different kinds of organizations. She brings together a picture and set of practices under the umbrella of Production Excellence that provides a clear and practical plan for senior software leaders.

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.

Want to be a Better Consultant? Learn to Work Strategically

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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.

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

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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.

Organizing for Customer Centricity

Speaker: Tatyana Mamut, Head of Product, Nextdoor

Most companies today say they are “customer centric.” Yet many still make decisions primarily based on competitor threats, technical architecture, or executive opinions. So what sets apart those that talk the talk, and those that walk the walk? Join Nextdoor's Head of Product Tatyana Mamut, PhD as she outlines the 7 habits of truly customer-centric companies.

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

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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

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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 5 Levels of Analytics Maturity

Basic dashboards used to be enough to thrill end users. But over time, modern capabilities have emerged—and bare-minimum features are no longer cutting it. How have analytics changed? And where do your BI offerings fall short? Find out sophisticated ways to future-proof your application. Brought to you by Logi Analytics.

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

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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”

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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.

Walk a Mile in Your Customer's Shoes

Speaker: Steven Haines, Founder and CEO, Sequent Learning Networks

Product professionals use phrases like "voice of the customer," and "user experience" so often that it can be easy to lose sight of their actual meanings. How can we, as product professionals, learn to keep customers and users at the heart of our work? Join Steven Haines, globally recognized thought leader and author, as he guides us through a memorable journey demonstrating how you can walk a mile in their customer's shoes. He'll explore how, by developing true empathy for your users, you can ensure you're creating the features and products they actually want.

Embedding YouTube Videos in Android Applications

Atomic Spin

YouTube is the largest video sharing platform in the world, so it makes sense to include its videos in a mobile app. In this article, I’m going to cover how to add them to your Android application using YouTube’s official API. For the sake of this tutorial, we are going to start with an empty activity template, Kotlin , and a minimum API level of 6.0 in Android Studio. Setup. Unfortunately, YouTube does not provide a Gradle dependency for its player API.

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How to Set a Budget for Your Custom Software Project

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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.

Five Quick Phone Tests

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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.

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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Monetizing Analytics Features: Why Data Visualizations Will Never Be Enough

Think your customers will pay more for data visualizations in your application? Five years ago they may have. But today, dashboards and visualizations have become table stakes. Discover which features will differentiate your application and maximize the ROI of your embedded analytics. Brought to you by Logi Analytics.

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.

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.

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.

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.

How To Take Action on Customer Discovery

Speaker: Nick Noreña, Innovation Coach and Advisor, Kromatic

We all want to build successful products - and that means satisfied customers. Before anything else, you must understand what problems you can solve. The best way to do that is to get out of the building and start asking questions. But how can you make the most of those conversations, and ensure that you walk away with productive insights? Join Nick Noreña, educator, entrepreneur, and currently Innovation Coach and Advisor at Kromatic, as he covers how we can effectively action our findings from customer discovery conversations.

There’s a Relational Database in Your Unix CLI

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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.

Is Your New Feature Worth It?

Atomic Spin

When you’ve created a successful application, it is tempting to relentlessly add new functionality. You think that if you stop building, you’ll fall behind. New features bring in new business. They show your existing users that you are still active and adding value.

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.

Wireframing for Non-Designers – A Crash Course

Atomic Spin

Wireframes are not just for designers! As a software maker, you can and should be using them to eliminate risk and validate concepts. These tools benefit the entire team, and they can be created by any member of the team.

5 Early Indicators Your Embedded Analytics Will Fail

Many application teams leave embedded analytics to languish until something—an unhappy customer, plummeting revenue, a spike in customer churn—demands change. But by then, it may be too late. In this White Paper, Logi Analytics has identified 5 tell-tale signs your project is moving from “nice to have” to “needed yesterday.". Brought to you by Logi Analytics.

Wireframing for Non-Designers – A Crash Course

Atomic Spin

Wireframes are not just for designers! As a software maker, you can and should be using them to eliminate risk and validate concepts. These tools benefit the entire team, and they can be created by any member of the team.