Notes on designing, developing and delivering great products

Elixir Extravaganza – Carbon Five LA Talk Night June 15th 2016

By on in Everything Else

phoenix-elixir

Excitement continues to grow around the functional programming language Elixir and it’s web framework Phoenix. Many are intrigued by the pair’s ability to scale due to the Erlang VM while remaining maintainable and understandable thanks to their Ruby and Rails pedigree.

But is it production ready? Should you consider it for your next project? Basically, is it time to drink the Elixir? It’s a question we’ve answered before and we want to continue that conversation.

That’s why we’re inviting you to our next Talk Night, centering on the practical use and adoption of this exciting new language.

Continue reading …


The 10 Practices of Healthy Engineering Teams – Part 2

By on in Culture, Development, Process, Startups

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced a high-performing engineering team at SuperStartupCorp that had automated repetitive tasks, codified its engineering practices, and adopted a learning mindset, resulting in happy engineers and happy stakeholders. Read on to learn more traits and practices that make this team so successful, and how they keep their bus factor high.

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Carbon Five & Heroku

By on in Development, golang, Java

c5heroku

 

Check out the latest Heroku case study, featuring Carbon Five.

The article explains how we build 35+ Apps a year and use Heroku for 90% of our software projects for wide range of clients. Courtney, Erik, and David share their thoughts on the platform’s support for rapid deployment, language flexibility, and ease of use.

Find out more here.

 


Dr. Smarty or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bot?

By on in Culture, Development, Everything Else

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Twice a year, all of the Carbon Five offices congregate for our company-wide Summit. One of the funnest parts of these all company trips is the Codeo, which we have been running for the last few years and they have become an integral part of our DNA.

For those that don’t know, our Codeo (short for “Code Rodeo”) is a 2-day internal hackathon. The goal of the Codeo is to have fun creating a product with people you haven’t had a chance to work with in a while (or maybe ever).

The teams are made up of mixture of office locations and cross-functional groups so that everyone has a different role to play (developers, designers, product manager, and operations). The focus of this Codeo was “Slackbots” with the overall goal to create something that helps out our co-workers and/or Carbon Five as a whole. The only rule was to use an existing internal Slack channel as inspiration for the project.

Here is a snapshot of each team’s Slackbot, as told by the team. Continue reading …


Before You Build: How to Get Your Startup Off the Ground Without a Team

By on in Design, Startups

A group of people sketching

Photo from my colleague Yasmine Molavi’s sketching workshop

You’re starting a company. You’re so full of ideas that you have three PowerPoint decks! Wowza! You have a couple co-founders or maybe even an employee. If only your team had some engineers to build the product…

There are many, many important things you can do to give your product momentum before you build any software. Even if you have engineers, your team can (and should) do some of these activities in parallel to engage your audience, strengthen your product and beat out competitors. It’s important that the founders lead these activities because no one cares about the success of your company more than you.

This post covers finding customers, getting your brand and web presence started and how to get your product off the ground. The two most important things a founder can do is find their customers and establish channels for them to find you. I’ve helped to launch over forty websites and apps in my career. The ones that are successful had a growing list of interested customers (or an existing customer database) before launch. Continue reading …


Elixir and Phoenix: The Future of Web APIs and Apps?

By on in Development, Elixir

phoenix-elixir

Buzz has been building up around Elixir (and Phoenix) in the development community over the last year. We’re pretty excited about them too and want to share the reasons why they’ve piqued our interest and what we’ve learned so far.

We decided to kick the tires by rewriting one of our in-house web applications using Elixir and Phoenix so that we could answer the questions that are most front of mind:

  • How productive is the stack?
  • Are there any emergent benefits?
  • Are there any significant gotchas?
  • What are the performance characteristics?
  • What’s the community like?

Continue reading …


Introducing Wallaby – Concurrent Feature Tests for Elixir and Phoenix

By on in Elixir

Feature tests are one of the best ways to ensure reliability and consistency for web applications. But, as we’ve discussed previously feature tests can become a performance bottleneck for a large test suite.

With the fast approaching release of Ecto 2.0, Elixirists will be able to run feature tests for Phoenix applications concurrently. To take advantage of these performance benefits we wanted a testing tool that supported concurrent tests out of the box and provided a flexible api for querying and interacting with webpages.

Thats why we built Wallaby.

Continue reading …


New Arrow Functions in ES6!

By on in Web

Among many of the new features of ES6, aka ECMAScript 2015, is the arrow function expression, also known as the fat arrow function. For those that have been programming in CoffeeScript, the syntax will look quite at home.

This corresponds to this syntax in the current standard JavaScript:

Essentially, it’s just a different way of specifying a function (of which there are a ton of different ways in ES6), but it’s not a direct replacement for function — you can’t do a ‘replace all’ in your code. Several important differences beyond syntactic sugar exist, including: 1) it creates a lexical this, 2) it implicitly returns an expression, and 3) it’s always an anonymous function. And that is where it gets interesting. To understand the problem the standards committee was trying solve, you first have to delve into context and the lexical this.

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April 21st 2016 Talk Night at Carbon Five LA – Sketching for UX

By on in Design, Los Angeles

sketching

Great communication is at the heart of a great team with the free and clear exchange of ideas flowing between design, development, and product. However, we’ve all had moments where the team gets “blocked” on a design; some members struggling putting their thoughts into words, others feel they have to provide high quality comps, while others remain silent feeling they don’t have the skill or place to contribute.

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Fintech Startups Continue Wall Street Transformation

By on in Announcements, Startups

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Back in 2008, I moved from Paris to New York City right as the Big Apple was in a Big Mess. I remember walking past a live air studio as a visibly flustered newscaster gestured erratically in front of an Armageddon-esque stock screen. And, I recall witnessing Barclays ascent on Lehman Brothers, encircling the iconic building in a virtual moat of town cars from which a flow of pinstriped suits scuttled.

Eight years later, I find myself back in New York and am happy to report that the financial sector is looking up again – thanks to the current wave of fintech innovation.

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