This is what we did in 2016


It’s the end of year so this is the period when we do retrospective for the last 12 months. In order to be able to improve ourselves we must do a review of things we managed to accomplish and not in 2016. Gathering all the photos and looking up for results we realized that we did and learned a lot, we discovered many new things, we traveled a lot, enjoyed our work and spent quality time together. Only now we see how great this year was and the best is yet to come!

The numbers look crazy, we programmed around 10.000 hours doing 640 hours of design work, almost 200 hours of deployment (for those who are not familiar with the term it means migrating files from local development servers to test and live servers), over 100 of hours of meeting with developers (management meetings excluded, those would go around 1.000 of hours). In terms of projects Helga is still the number 1 regarding the effort spent on a project. This year we invested 4.000 hours in this initiative. Yes, you are reading this correctly, Helga is an over 10.000 hours project having multiple developers constantly working on it, involving financial experts and great accountants (thanks Jochem, you are a genius!), car trader experts, quality engineers, external agencies and consultants. This heavy software required many people’s expertise resulting in a complex and compact system.

Biddo and Autoroute are next on the list with a big number of hours each followed by the Support Portal for Autofactor clients with over 650 hours of development.

Regarding management, the score is very tight between Csaba and Mateusz (not that this would be a competition), both of them started tracking hours when we launched the ticketing portal and set up an individual Redmine for Autofactor back in April. Their management and support hours are around 1.200 so dear clients and friends, if you haven’t received all the invoices from Hans yet, prepare yourselves for a bigger chunk in December…just kidding, don’t worry, Santa won’t let this happen. Your bank accounts won’t suffer under the Christmas tree. My management hours are around 1.700 (guys I bit you, for this you will have to join me to shopping at our next management trip) meaning that this is the time spent on managing things in the office, taking care of capacity planning and work allocation, communication with multiple partners, making developers’ life harder brighter.

So let’s see what we did this year in pictures and facts, the order is random, there is no priority of any kind.

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At the beginning of this year we planned a trip to Seville to celebrate that we finished the core part of Helga. At the time when this trip was organized we thought that we are close to finish development on this software. Now we know this was and still is a utopia, the system will always trigger new ideas and further features. The city break to Seville was fantastic, we visited many places, got there on Semana Santa which is one week before Easter. The planning wasn’t on purpose but as I said in one of my previous blog articles, we are always lucky getting extras during our trips. Thank you Hans for making this trip possible for us 🙂

Smiling on the Metropol Parasol in Seville, the largest wooden structure in the world

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Visiting the Alcázar Royal Palace where the 5th season of Game of Thrones was filmed

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The gorgeous garden of Alcázar

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This year we changed our method of estimating projects. We spend much more time on analyzing requirements to be able to break down in smaller scope items the needed effort. We come up with minimal, optimal and maximal number of hours for the same scope, this way an algorithm calculates the recommended time. This method is called PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique). Thanks to this estimation template we can set up the percentage for risk factors getting back the required effort for other disciplines then development, like architecture, testing, deployment and project management.

pert

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In spring we launched our ticketing portal called Support Portal which requires authentication on clients’ projects or here on the portal. There is a single sign-in system so once you logged in on your own website hitting the Support button you will land on this ticketing portal. As a client of Autofactor you can open ticket for a certain problem or question, even if you need “only” consultancy somebody from our management team will get back to you. Csaba and Mateusz are doing a great job in terms of daily costumer services. Users can follow up their own issues on this dashboard, in case of getting lost on the Portal you can always access the How To Use section where a detailed user manual is available. And of course if there is any update on your ticket you will always get an email notification.

Issues’ Dashboard in Support Portal for admin user

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Guidance on Support Portal about how to use the system

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Beside the Support Portal in spring we redesigned the Autofactor website. A fresh facelift was given to the site having a new structure, a minimalist design and a one page navigation. Believe it or not but we had a real photo shooting to have great pictures on the website. As we like good quality, we called a professional photographer who told us how to dress, how to sit, how to smile and where to look. So no, what you see on the website are not just ordinary pictures. This is how the big ones do too 😉

On the website we used only the best photos but there are a few ones which remained in “shadow”, we show you a few of these.

Everybody looking in different directions like we would have nothing to do with each other

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Laughing like a crazy midget…as usual Csaba’s jokes are all over the place

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Trying way too hard to look nice and ending up like someone who is presenting the prime time news on TV

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Hans’ visit to the office always triggers new projects, new ideas but also spending free time together, having nice dinners, drinking palinka fresh lemonade, etc.

Explaining to Ferenc a new idea, trying to convince him that this is doable. Having ideas is one thing, having needs that’s another thing, but trying to convince a senior developer of any of these two that’s something magical 😉

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 Really? This idea? Don’t think so…

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Laughing, chatting, doing small talks and having nice dinner

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The end result of Autofactor website with new design and content

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One of the results of this year is to connect Helga with Hexon, which has a huge network of links to automotive portals. Thanks to this connection Helga users are able to advertise their cars on almost 200 car trader websites. We started working with Hexon in September, 2015. We exchanged over 70 emails and still continue to do this from time to time. We build our own advertisement overview so Helga users can track the status of their ads inside our system. Dashboard for this can be seen on the below screenshot.

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It is never easy working with external agencies, data exchange usually means sensitive information “flying” on the internet. Besides connecting Helga with Hexon we also managed to integrate Vrijwaren routine in Helga. The routine theoretically is simple, in practice looks a bit different when it comes to program the routine itself and connect to RDW via a licensed reseller of RDW. In our case we connect through VWE. For those who are not in Dutch car trader market, this routine means that you stop being responsible for the vehicle having no further obligation in terms of road taxes, insurance, etc. Performing the Vrijwaren routine avoids you paying monthly taxes while the car is no longer in your possession. For implementing this routine we started communicating with VWE in March and we finished the latest tests in November changing almost 50 emails.

vrijwaren

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In summer before hitting to sunny seaside and enjoying holidays we had a management trip in Bratislava. Great city, great food, nice restaurants. Again we were lucky and we got extra great stuff in that city. You can read more about this in a previous blog article.

City break in Bratislava: street festival with sexy nice girls

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Three project managers lost in Bratislava…that’s the best group photo I can do with these two guys, no hugging, no nothing

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When the summer ended Hans, Mateusz and Ferenc took the courage to go for climbing and hiking in Poland to the Tatras mountains, near Zakopane town. Since it was a very old promise done by Hans in one of his weak moments to Mateusz, he couldn’t get away with this. So they ended up in nature…without internet or infrastructure.

Yes!!! You did it Hans 🙂

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This view worth every effort

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This autumn we managed to finish the Events section in HELGA. This is a feature about setting up conditions based on which events like push notifications, opening new task, send automatic email, adding and removing tags, change commercial status of car and change physical location of car on car detail page can be triggered. Mateusz and Ferenc were suffering pretty hard till they managed to figure out this concept. Setting up conditions like if a certain task was created, invoice payment status changed, new client created, commercial car created and if car’s technical inspection status changed, events can be initiated automatically in Helga. Each company can set its own series of conditions and events customized based on internal business needs.

helga_events

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We do believe in innovative ideas so this year we tried something new. Instead of reinventing the wheel of BI dashboards we started experimenting the Google Charts. We managed to implement a pretty complex dashboard for one of our customers dealing with a huge amount of data. The beauty of these charts is that there is a user friendly interface with many human readable data layout. Our client can look up and filter data based on business partner, car brand& model, transaction details, car details like mileage, price, car body type, etc. Data can be displayed as per time period. This is another initiative of Google which is open source and free and opens new horizons in terms of web development.

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Usually our team prefers beer and palinka but this November a part of the management team got the chance to participate at a Wine pairing having as host a real wine expert of Clos des Colombes, one of the very rare wines produced in Eastern Europe. We have zero intention of looking snobbish but sometimes trying something different, classy, above average can add special values to our life. This is what happened here, we were totally shocked of the elegant restaurant, extravagant food along with good wine.

Clos des Colombes wines, in some cases there are only 600 bottles produced of a certain wine

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Cheers my friend! Of course Mateusz as usual looks like a real CEO on every pictures

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Beside the events and trips listed here our everyday life looks like this:  a lot of morning latte macchiato turned into code and software, daily Skype calls, bugs hunted down and corrected, multiple tasks implement as per client’s requirements, thousands of emails exchanged to clarify customer’s needs, chit chats in the office about meaning of life latest news in software development.

Trying to find the bug

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Installing a Mini Mac to hunt down a bug reported, we use Linux and Windows based machines hence the fuss with the Mac machine

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Daily Skype calls with Csaba…we have so happy faces like we would be in an amusement park. Really guys? Get your act together and focus!

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And last but not least one of our many accomplishments from this year is that we managed to contribute to the open source software development of Redmine ticketing portal and GitHub, a web-based file repository hosting service for version control and source code management. We are proud of this, we do believe that we added value to international development and digital community making the world better.

As we mentioned earlier in this article we connected our Support Portal with Redmine, and since we use 2 Redmine systems for better tracking of hours and tasks, we needed to use the Redmine WebHook plugin, a free open source plugin. Webhook is a method of triggering a different behave of a web page or application. So far the plugin allowed to trigger a single behavior so apart of connecting 2 Redmine systems for data exchange, nothing else was possible. Now thanks to our team multiple webhooks can be added and only users who have permission can add and edit webhooks. Our idea was approved (look up for “bnagy” at commits from Oct 20, 2016) and added to the existing plugin by Redmine dev community.

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Another improvement done by us of which the world can benefit is the modification done in the expended API of Rocket.Chat, an open source chat tool which is currently connected to our Redmine. Every time when a new issue is opened in Support Portal by a client, that lands in Redmine creating automatically a task for it and a chat channel in Rocket.Chat so we can discuss with the management team if client’s requirements are not clear. So far if we closed a task in Redmine the Rocket.Chat channel did not get closed automatically only sent a notification that you can leave the channel as the task got closed, again feature implemented by us. Now thanks to our API modifications the channel gets closed when a Redmine task is set to close status. You can track the status of this improvement on Rocket.Chat’s GitHub, look up for “bnagydeveloper” at commits from Oct 18, 2016.

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Ok, we stop now with this summary as we could continue the list endlessly. About future plans we can say only a few hashtags to keep you curious: #automotivebigdata, #universalmapping, #AFcommercial, #yellowcanary, #newprojects, #inspectionreportimprovements, #growing, #citybreak, #newclients, #connectionwithtransportsupplier, #b2bvrijwaren, #paymentsyncing, #directdebit.

Our office is almost in Christmas mood, hot chocolates and holiday music are on so till Friday we continue to please customers’ need, after that we “disappear” for a week.

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Thank you for being our customers, we wish you Happy Winter Holidays!

Over Zsuzsa

Zsuzsa has joined Autofactor in the beginning of 2015 and we have been benefiting from her skills ever since. She’s taking care of planning in all of it’s aspects and makes sure that project managers, developers and customers deliver as promised. Her ‘gentle reminders’ also frequently go out to Hans, by the way.

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