My name is Ismael Chang Ghalimi. I build the STOIC platform. I am a stoic, and this blog is my agora.

Welcome Zhipeng Jiang

We just got confirmation that our new intern’s visa application was approved. Zhipeng Jiang will start his internship with us next month, with a focus on our mobile interface. While the latter is not part of MVP, it was always understood that we would complete it immediately after.

His work will consist in refactoring our current prototype using the Ionic framework, with dynamic client-side AngularJS pages served by static server-side CircularJS pages for localization and theming. This will allow us to test this architecture before we apply it to our refactored web user interface once we implement localization and theming for it.

He will also work with Jim to integrate its Cordova packaging with our automated build.

Welcome on board Zhipeng!

Second team gathering

Our second team gathering is coming to an end, and we could not get any happier with the outcome. After a fast and furious week, we managed to implement many critical features and fix a ton of bugs. Most importantly, we integrated several core components of the platform that had been developed in isolation from each other up to now. Having the seven of us in the same room for a week with an end-of-week deadline to motivate us was a good thing. Clearly, we’ve exceeded any productivity benchmarks we could have set to ourselves. Today’s demo was a clear success, and we now have a very detailed roadmap on our Pivotal Tracker. If we follow it without adding too many new features along the way, we should have a production-ready version of the platform by Summer’s end. Still a ton of work ahead of us, but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Good stuff…

What it took to ship a first beta

  • 11 months and 18 days
  • 110 hours/week for some team members (on average)
  • 7 highly motivated developers (scattered across 4 timezones)
  • 76 JavaScript libraries (give or take a handful)
  • 4 total re-writes of the user interface (5 versions in total)

We shipped, on time!

Earlier today, we shipped STOIC to our first 184 customers.

To be more precise, at 3:43 AM PDT, the last customer had received a notification email indicating that his/her STOIC instance was now ready for use. But guess what? 3:43 AM PDT on Thursday, March 13 2013 was 11:43 PM SST in Pago Pago on Wednesday, March 12 2013. So, technically, we shipped at the originally-promised date. In my 14 years career in this industry, it’s the very first time that my team ships a product on time. I can hardly believe it…

To make things even better, I wasn’t even there. As you can see on this log of last night’s events, I was deep asleep when all this happened. All the hard work was actually being done by Hugues in Singapore and François in France. Altogether, it took us 9 hours to ship, and we went through it without screaming or shouting, and barely any hint of stress. Then, when I could not help much and needed some rest, I transitioned over to my teammates, and they ran through the finish line, on their own. Anyone who has worked with me in the past few years might have a hard time believing that I could delegate the most important pieces of work that we have to get done, but somehow, I managed to find a way to do it, and nothing could make me more proud today…

To be fair, most of the praise goes to Hugues, who not only implemented the automation framework we needed to deploy and upgrade 184 instances on Cloud Foundry, but also had the fortitude to push for a massively distributed architecture that has never been attempted before for a platform like ours. And he did that largely against the informed advice of Pascal, who was legitimately concerned that such an architecture could create massive administration overhead. We still don’t know whether it’s the case or not, but Hugues clearly demonstrated that the setup and upgrade process could be built, because there is no way that we could have manually setup 184 instances in an hour like we did today…

While I’m totally ecstatic to have shipped a product on time for the first time in my career, I am immensely proud that we could do that with the kind of distributed authority that we’ve been trying to establish in the company since Pascal suggested that we should learn from the successful experience of Valve Software. While we still have much to learn about how to scale such an organization, it seems to be working a lot better than anything I’ve done in the past, and it’s definitely a lot more fun.

So, without further ado, a huge congratulations to Hugues for a remarkable piece of work, a huge thanks to François for some pretty boring yet necessary testing and notification work, and a huge thanks to all our customers for giving us the chance to do all this and to try all these new things.

We did it! On time! Awesome!

Hugues of Singapore

In case you’re wondering, all the work related to the setup of instances is done by Hugues, who is based in Singapore. Hugues is a gifted developer, and an expert with Cloud Foundry. He is also deep into agile, and an avid singer. Now, here is a cool fact about the guy: when he was living in Silicon Valley, he and Donald Knuth were part of the same choir. Yes, the Donald, of TeX fame… The guy who wrote The Art of Computer Programming

Go Hugues, go!

What it takes to be part of our team

Following my recent post on Florian’s work, Pascal half-jokingly objected that he is not yet part of our team, for he has yet to break something. Pascal is right: part of STOIC’s process is to break everything until it’s been fixed so well that breaking it again gets really difficult. So, here you go Florian: try to break something. Our build process, our meta-data, our spreadsheet importer. Something. Anything. Go for it!