SilverStripe Blog

Sam Minnée talks about his experiences with Full Code Press

Posted by Brian Boyko on 5 July 2010

Compiled from an interview with Sam Minnée.

Full Code Press was a very interesting experience from my perspective because even though the program started at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, I didn't actually start integrating templates until 3 in the morning - most of the work happened for me after 3 a.m. After that, however, it was fairly intense.

I feel like I worked well under pressure. And I loved working with our team - I loved the dynamic of working with a bunch of people you know are really good at their respective jobs, who you could just trust to do their bit well, so you could focus on doing your piece of the puzzle as best as you can. Plus, the challenge of producing a website in 24 hours made everyone, including the client, very focused, and very committed to getting as much as possible done in a short period of time. So, in the end, we did an amazing thing. We built a really cool website given the time frame. And I think it was kind of inspiring to see how much could be done in that time. I don't think that building a website in 24 hours is ever going to be close to being a realistic thing for a regular client project, but I think it was challenging to ask: Can we do things more quickly than the industry norm says is standard?

The clients worked well with us too. It was their first website, so they were really stoked. So they didn't just come in and tell us what to do - they were there with us until about two in the morning, then came in again about seven or eight the next morning. They got some sleep, sure, but they were really part of the team for the whole products. In the end, the client liked the final product, and that's what really matters.

There were a number of hectic moments. At one point, the webserver everything was on crashed - stopped working - and all three competing sites had to be pulled from one webhost to a new one. We had to deal with the migration, and for a time, the content authors couldn't make any changes. That was, I think, more stressful for some of the other teams than it was for us, in part because this was prior to integrating the templates at 3 a.m., so we had a certain amount of bandwidth to deal with these kinds of things. But, it was still good to be less stressed about these things than the other teams. It made us feel like we were doing something right.

The most demanding time - not so much because there was a relatively stressful amount of things to do, but the physical limitations of the body - was about 8:00 in the morning, just after breakfast. I just hit a wall. I couldn't stop yawning and could barely think. And I think the Red Bull and V high had sort of worn off, and my mind and body were just about ready to give up. That was quite bad for an hour or two, and then as we approached the finish line the adrenaline kicked back in.

The 2010 Code BlacksThe most hectic moment, unsurprisingly, was near the end - at 11:55, five minutes before the deadline, I realised we had forgotten to add alt-tags to the rotating images on the front page. I thought it would be an easy fix, but we had put the alt-text into the database, and we weren't actually querying the database to display the images - we were querying the filesystem directly. So I had to query the database, cross-reference that with the stuff we were getting from the filesystem, and then inject the combined content into the template. That was the final thing I changed, and finished with two minutes to spare. When we went around the event saying "We're done!" at 11:58, everyone was mocking us for slacking off and finishing early.

By the end, I was definitely in a curious mental state. I'm sure that this affected my coding to some extent, but I think that there's a different part of the mind - a slightly less conscious part of the mind - where the coding comes from. And when I'm in the zone, even without sleep, I can - I can still get in that flow state and let things go. The part of my mind that broke down first was part that controlled social interaction, not the coding part. So, I had my headphones on, the music up loud, and I was ignoring everyone else unless they needed something from me. Which was lucky, because I wasn't there to socialise, I was there to write code.

Things got a little tense - but considering everyone had been up for 24 hours I think we did fantastically. There were no real breakdowns. I think everyone got a bit loopy. There was an impromptu dance party with no music at one point. We had sort of stand-up meetings every hour or two and one of those, we just all started dancing. I'm not really sure why. There wasn't any music playing. I think we just needed to move, having been stuck to seats all day. After a few minutes, I think we all realised what we were doing, and laughed at ourselves and continued on.

But it was a very intense experience, and we went through this experience together, and when you do that, you come out closer to each other. I feel like I've made new friends. I feel like what we've gone through is not something that happens every day. It's not like any other website launch, and - yeah, I mean mostly, I've come out of it really glad to have the experience.

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Posted by Brian Boyko on 18 June 2010

We want to find out what features you'd like to see implemented, (or what problems royally annoy you), on the site.

Recently, SilverStripe Ltd did a reconstruction of the site. Part of it was that we wanted something splashy to go with launching Dawn, but we also wanted to migrate our own .com site to SilverStripe CMS 2.4. Since we were upgrading the backend, we figured we might as well work on improving the public facing portions too. Sorta like, "Gee, Doc, so long as I'm going to have to have surgery for my appendix anyway, can you work in a tummy tuck while I'm under?"

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Help us help you and your users with user help

Posted by Brian Boyko on 15 June 2010

We're in the middle of re-writing our user help to be compatible with SilverStripe CMS 2.4.

Well written user help documentation helps us and other SilverStripe developers save time. Every question that customers can answer themselves using user help is a question that they don't have to ask the development team. For that reason, as we shift from 2.3 to 2.4, we'd like to get away from focusing on features and more towards explaining how to accomplish tasks - shifting from "what things are" to "how to get things done." It's a massive re-write that has us practically starting from scratch.

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Representing NZ at Full Code Press

Posted by Sam Minnée on 2 June 2010

Full Code Press is a web development and design competition run by the same group of people who run the Webstock conference, the biggest web conference in New Zealand.

I'm going to be one of 6 people representing New Zealand, against Australia, and the United States, as a member of the Code Blacks team in the competition. I'm honoured to be chosen to represent New Zealand.

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Calling for help in documentation

Posted by Ingo Schommer on 2 June 2010

The criticism we hear most often from the developer community is that, with the exception of our books, SilverStripe needs to improve its developer documentation. And it's a fair point.  

We made some decisions regarding our documentation a while back that we thought would work at the time - a best guess as to how to proceed. But these turned out to limit us in ways we simply didn't foresee.

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Behind the PostgreSQL Module

Posted by Geoff Munn on 1 June 2010

We've released a module that lets SilverStripe work with PostgreSQL. I've been the primary coder working on the PostgreSQL module for the past year, and the work we did on this, alongside changes to the core Sapphire framework, have been released as part of version 2.4.

Some limitations of MySQL were becoming issues for us over the past few years. One of them was that the storage engines, InnoDB and MyISAM, each had advantages that the other didn't, while Postgres is a single storage engine with all of those benefits, plus more.

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SilverStripe 2.4 release: a significant step forward

Posted by Brian Calhoun on 5 May 2010

Screenshot of SilverStripe 2.4We're excited to tell you that we just released SilverStripe version 2.4! This is a major new release and an important milestone for the SilverStripe community, the open source project, and our company.

SilverStripe 2.4 is the culmination of over a year's worth of development. We fixed 391 tickets and had over 1,400 changelog entries. A large number of the patches that went into 2.4 have come from you, the community, and we're especially happy that there's been increasing community involvement.

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SilverStripe in Philadelphia

Posted by Sigurd Magnusson on 5 May 2010

This week, the website and intranet managers for over one hundred of America's large companies, universities, and government agencies are meeting in Philadelphia at the annual Janus Boye Conference.

By and large, the types of organisations represented at the conference are yet to progress to modern, open source CMS platforms, so we're excited to feature at the conference for the second year and show them what exists in the market.

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Preview of SilverStripe 2.4 - Hierarchical URLs, a developer community contribution

Posted by Sigurd Magnusson on 30 April 2010

Each week we're interviewing someone who has made a major contribution to our upcoming release of SilverStripe CMS, version 2.4.

This week we're discussing a hotly desired feature, hierarchical URLs, with the person behind the feature, Andrew Short. Based in Australia, Andrew is a member of our open source community who has worked with SilverStripe CMS for several years. The feature Andrew is discussing here is also colloquially known as "nested URLs."

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SilverStripe v2.4 progresses to release candidate 2

Posted by Sigurd Magnusson on 30 April 2010

We're excited to say we're extremely close to releasing a stable version of SilverStripe 2.4.

A month ago we released Release Candidate 1. Thanks to community feedback and continued testing, we're issuing an update today, SilverStripe 2.4 Release Candidate 2. A huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to download and test this release and file bug reports.

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