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Guide to Building a Sustainable Agile Culture in Your Company

The Agile process is one that allows software development teams to provide near immediate responses to feedback received on the products they’re developing. Agile also provides opportunities to assess a project’s progress throughout the planned timeline, which helps negate any issues that might arise. 

When it comes to Agile, software development teams are empowered to make decisions without constant supervision and the number of team meetings that need to be held can be cut way back, usually to one at the start of a project and one at or near the end, depending on how things are progressing. 

There are a number of benefits to the Agile methodology, including:

Stakeholder Engagement and Satisfaction
This benefit provides opportunities for team members and stakeholders to engage with one another throughout the software development process; this collaboration is key to successful product creation.
Transparency
Throughout the process, clients are kept informed of development progress, either through meetings usually called sprints or through other methods. With the Agile methodology, weekly, or even daily meetings, are a thing of the past, instead using sprints to keep clients and stakeholders informed.
Early and Predictable Delivery
With the Agile methodology, projects are completed on timelines of one to four works, depending on the complexity of the project. Because beta testing is done during the development process, software can be released to stakeholders and/or the public much sooner than with older methodologies.
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These are just some of the benefits of the Agile methodology. Many more are discussed here, both in terms of clients and stakeholders and in terms of benefits to the business itself, from profitability to customer expectations and much more.

Agile By The Numbers

When it comes to Agile culture, the numbers are there to support switching to this business methodology within software development companies. According to the Project Management Institute, around 71% of organizations surveyed report using Agile methodologies on some level. When it comes to project specific tools, Microsoft Project is among the most popular for project management, while Atlassian Jira is among the most popular Agile specific tools. The idea behind project management is to make the process more convenient by using visual tools that are capable of suppressing unnecessary meetings. The Agile methodology also facilitates the elimination of process bottlenecks by streamlining tasks. 

When it comes to salaries for Agile project managers, the average in the United States is nearly $85,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a female Agile software developer is around $94,000; for a man in the same position, that salary jumps to $101,000. Despite female advancement in tech, there are still major disparities between what men and women are earning based on their skill sets, education, and other capabilities. Mountain Goat Software has an excellent article outlining what an Agile project manager does

When it comes to failed Agile projects, a study from Version One found that 63% of people blamed a clash between their business’ culture and Agile’s business philosophy to be the cause of those failures. These failures aren’t the fault of any one person and nobody should be blamed if using the Agile methodology doesn’t work for your business. It’s simply one method that a business can try in an effort to streamline their processes. Try the Agile methodology on a small project before using it on something more expansive. If it works well on a small project, it will be easy to translate the process to a more expansive project. 

matter what you think of the Agile methodology, the numbers don’t lie and the practice is here to stay for a long while. Agile was born February 12, 2001 at Utah-EEUU, when CEOs from top software companies around the country came together and created the Agile manifesto.  

When it comes to choosing Agile, it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. It isn’t right for every business or for every management style. It is going to play a major role in the current digital transformation and business owners should take a look at how it might transform their business.

The Role of Agile in Digital Transformation

Why Choose Agile?

If an organization wants to survive it has to constantly evolve and transform. Choosing the Agile methodology can help make some of those transitions smoother. There are three reasons why this is the case. For a company not using the Agile methodology, projects are often being developed in a very uncertain environment. 

A long-term detailed planning methodology isn’t usually effective because there are many constantly changing variables, which may make long-term planning useless. With the Agile methodology, projects are developed on a timeline wherein team members are given tasks to complete. Everyone is working simultaneously to complete a software development project, for example, instead of doing one aspect of a project at a time. There are three reasons to choose the Agile methodology, including accelerating software delivery, enhancing the ability to manage changing priorities, and increasing productivity.

Organizational Transparency

Agile is a holistic process that requires organizational transparency. When adopting the Agile methodology, it’s important to take a holistic approach to doing so. The whole company needs to be transparent about the changes that need to be made. This means making broad, sweeping changes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not every company is designed for implementing the Agile methodology across the board. Implementing Agile company-wide works well for start-ups, but may not work as well for companies that have been around since before Agile became popularized. 

Stakeholder Satisfaction

When it comes to adopting the Agile methodology, stakeholder satisfaction is of utmost importance. In the case of a business, stakeholders are defined as users, customers or anyone who has an interest in the development of the software or product. They are not just the higher-ups in the company or people who might sit on the board of directors. When it comes to the Agile methodology, stakeholders at all levels have a say in what happens and are “constantly solicited for advice.” The goal is to make users feel engaged and useful; like their opinion truly matters, because it does. 

Employee Satisfaction

Adopting the Agile methodology often leads to greater employee satisfaction. This is because employees play a huge role in software development and are engaged throughout the process. Like the other stakeholders, they have a role and a say in what happens with the software development. Because they have this stake in the project, they are more likely to be committed and have a stronger connection to the project. 

Conduct An Audit

Before implementing the Agile methodology, a business will want to conduct an assessment to see exactly where the enterprise is in the current moment. Doing this will allow managers and other higher-ups to figure out exactly what processes and practices are already in place, and what processes and practices need to be implemented. Employees will be able to identify blockers and pain points. The end goal is to reveal if team members already know and understand the Agile methodology and its relevance to the specific roles, tasks, and responsibilities.

One of the most used Agile methodologies is SCRUM. This is an agile framework for managing knowledge work, with an emphasis on software development. SCRUM works best with teams of three to nine members who break their work into actions that can be completed within timeboxed iterations, called “sprints”, no longer than one month and most commonly two weeks, then track progress and re-plan in 15-minute time-boxed stand-up meetings, called daily scrums.

There are three main things we can achieve using this methodology: satisfying customers, reduction of product costs and services, and a happier and more productive team.  

According to Agile In A Nutshell, Agile works much the same way you and I do when we’re faced with too much to do and not enough hours in the day. Begin by making a list of what features the end user wants to see in their software; this becomes your project to-do list that you’ll follow from beginning to end. Then, create a timeline to figure out how long you think each task will take, measured in days. From here you can work backward from your deadline to structure your work schedule. Finally, create priorities and begin developing the software. Of course, you’ll be updating the plan as you go and adjusting if there are bumps along the way. If there are bumps in the road, you generally have two options: to lessen the scope of the project or ask for a longer timeline and more money from the client. 

Define your approach

The first step in implementing the Agile methodology is to define your approach. Doing this is important because there can be hurdles to overcome when adopting the approach. First, it’s important to understand why you want to adopt this methodology. Do you currently have an unclear understanding of the goals for your business? If so, Agile can help you better define and execute those goals so you can be more successful. If you have rushed testing cycles during the software development process, Agile can help eliminate those by providing more opportunities for testing throughout the process.

Training plan

The second step in implementing the Agile methodology is to have a training plan. Odds are good that your company’s adoption of the Agile methodology will be the first time your employees have experienced it. That’s okay, though, because there are quite a few resources available to assist you with training them. One tip to keep in mind is that it’s probably not a good idea to start with the Agile methodology while your teams are in the midst of developing software for a client. Wait until there’s a lull in projects to begin implementing; this way you’ll be better prepared for the next project that comes along. 

Because these programs and methods are unfamiliar, you don’t want to just throw your employees into the deep end. That’s a recipe for disaster right from the beginning. Instead, invest in a training program or attend a conference in order to equip them with necessary tools and equipment to be successful at using the Agile methodology.

With the Agile methodology, you want to trail the approach. Agile can’t be implemented overnight. It’s going to take time and there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve as you and your team establish new best practices. Take the transition one step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. When it comes to the Agile methodology, you want to make sure you’re using the correct method for the project because using the wrong one can lead to errors and leave a team with an unfinished project.

Test with a small project

If you’re going to implement the Agile methodology, do a test run with a small project. Developing software for a major client is not the time to test a new method of doing business. There are a lot of myths about the Agile methodology that might prevent a company from feeling comfortable in attempting it, but it’s important to look past those myths. The Agile methodology is a very streamlined and organized way of doing business. 

When it comes to building a sustainable Agile methodology into your company, it’s important to do the homework to see if the method is a good fit for your company. You want to make sure that you’ve got all the necessary frameworks in place so that you can have a successful implementation. Some questions to ask before implementing Agile include: are you willing to start a project without knowing where you’ll end up?; how risk-averse are you?; how flexible is your team?; how strict is your company hierarchy?; and how do you measure progress and success?

By asking these questions you’ll be able to start down the right path toward successful adoption of Agile methodology. For other Agile methodology resources, check out: 6 Reasons Why Businesses Should Adopt An Agile FrameworkAgile In A NutshellHow To Build A Sustainable Agile Culture; and Agile Project Management: A Comprehensive Guide

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6 Reasons Why Your Software Project Might Be Failing

Did you know that 41% of businesses have reported a high project failure rate? This just goes to show that executing software development projects can be complex and even overwhelming. Very few software projects actually fail due to technical problems. In most cases, they fail due to poor planning and management. 

There are some common mistakes that can result in a downward spiral for most software development projects. By being aware of these mistakes, you can plan your project in a way that specifically focusses on avoiding them. Here are the major reasons for project failure and how you can avoid them.

41% of organizations reporting poor project performance say they don’t get enough support from project management and project sponsors.

Unrealistic expectations

A trait that most ambitious tech companies have in common is an eagerness to please; whether it’s the client or the end user. At the same time, client expectations are always sky-high. They always want maximum output within the shortest possible time-frame. Over-enthusiastic sales teams tend to exacerbate this problem by promising the client the moon during the sales process. The end result is unrealistic expectations, and the execution of the project becomes more about development teams scrambling to fulfil them. This is a sure shot road to project failure.

The best way around this problem is to temper unrealistic expectations; whether they come from Operations and Sales teams, clients, or even end users. But the only way to do that is by clearly outlining the goals and objectives of the project so that everyone is on the same page. Of course, these goals can only be developed after incorporating feedback from all the relevant teams. That’s why it’s important for the Project Manager to meet with the different stakeholders (senior management, sales and operations teams, clients, developers, etc) before finalizing the overall project goals. Once the project objectives have been signed off on by everyone concerned, they should be the holy grail for project execution.

Project Manager is incompetent

When it comes to a software development project, the bucks stops at the Project Manager. It’s the project manager’s responsibility to steer the project in the right direction and ensure it crosses the finish line with time to spare. In fact, in an Oracle survey, 90% of the respondents said the role of a Project Manager is very important, with 47% saying it’s critical to the success of the project.

There are several qualities needed in a Project Manager, that even the most skilled and otherwise competent executives may not possess. A Project Manager needs to manage different stakeholders, take tough decisions at the right time, display leadership and inspire teams; all at the same time. A project manager also has to stay on budget and within scope, follow the Triple Constraints Model and focus on delivering quality software.

While no executive is perfect, certain weaknesses in your Project Manager can have a huge impact on your project. For instance, if your Project Manager is poor at delegation and has a tendency to micromanage things, delays will be inevitable. Similarly, if your Project Manager is not able to find the time to regularly check-in with all stakeholders, confusion will reign supreme. Of course, having procrastinators or overtly pessimistic folks as Project Managers is also a big no-no.
If you start noticing that the project is getting derailed, or that stakeholders are dissatisfied and confused, begin by having an in-depth discussion with the project manager. Also, corroborate your opinion by talking to senior team members on the project. If things don’t improve soon, consider a replacement.

Lack of proper planning

Proper planning is critical to the success of any software development project. It’s important to have a milestone-based plan with sensible deadlines. Yet, because planning is such a broad term, many companies struggle with developing an effective project plan. The first step towards creating the project plan is building a comprehensive list of project requirements after coordinating with various stakeholders. Planning focusses on structuring the development work around these requirements.

One of the things most companies struggle with is determining the level of detailing in the project plan. Plans range from preliminary plans and high-level plans to detailed plans and even sub-plans for different parts of the work. Most people think that you need to have all levels of plans ready to build a successful project. But the truth is, you need to be in sync with your company culture, the development team, and the nature of the product to decide the amount of planning detail that works best. To understand more about how to build the most appropriate project plan, check out this article, “7 Ways for Software Implementation Success”.

Company's Culture

One of the biggest differences between companies that perform well on a sustained basis vis-a-vis those that burnout or perform poorly is the company culture. In fact, a Gallup report registered that the employees would perform better if they were happier at work.

Sadly, most companies either just pay lip service to company culture or assume that it is embodied in things like office parties, off-sites, and birthday celebrations. The company culture is, in fact, a framework of shared values which, when cultivated consciously through the organisation, result in positive work habits. At Santex, for example, these shared values are trust, participation, passion and courage. This company makes it a point to keep these values at the heart of every software project they execute. When there are any crucial decisions to be made, they are guided first and foremost by these values. This helps create cohesiveness within the organization that improves productivity and performance by leaps and bounds.

Inadequate Quality Assurance

According to research by the IBM System Sciences Institute, it costs 100 times more to fix a defect after a product has already been built. Not only does a lack of QA (Quality Assurance) cost more after product release, but it also results in innumerable delays and cost overruns while the project is underway. QA is nothing but an organized approach to software development that aims to deliver working software in a faster and less expensive manner. In ordinary circumstances, testing and debugging the product takes about half of the entire development cycle. With proper QA in place, testing begins at the time of requirements development itself, and the result is a much shorter development cycle. It’s also important to keep in mind that at least 30% of the development time should be aside for the Quality team to conduct tests.

Sometimes, the lack of a software development framework can also affect how the project is executed. Methodologies like Agile help increase transparency and improve communication between teams and with the customer. This results in faster development cycles and more customer-centric products. If you want to know why Agile adoption is a good idea, check out this article “Why Use Agile Methodology for your Business“.

No code reviews

Although the benefits of a code review mechanism are fairly well-established, many companies still don’t have a code review system in place. In the rush to launch their product before the competition, most companies end up ignoring code reviews. In many cases, code patches need to launched almost immediately after release. Code reviews can be done in various forms from pair programming and informal walkthroughs to formal inspections.
The problem is, developers tend to have tunnel vision when they’re busy writing code and miss the bigger picture. In front-end development, for instance, it’s easy for developers to miss things like proper keyboard navigation and screen reader accessibility. Also, developers get very lax about code quality without a code review mechanism. They expect testers to catch bugs and defects and end up writing suboptimal code. Proper code review drastically lowers the risk of building a sub-par product.

Software development is fraught with complexity and uncertainty, which means there is a high propensity for project failure. Chances of success can be dramatically increased by being aware of major pitfalls and taking steps to avoid them. 

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The Top 7 DevOps Testing Tools of this Year

Companies like Amazon, Target, Esty, Netflix, Google, and Walmart all have one thing in common- they use DevOps in their day to day processes. In fact, according to Gartner, 70% of IT companies have adopted DevOps. But it’s one thing to adopt DevOps in principle and another to fully implement it in a way that drives efficiency. For instance, approximately 37% of companies have adopted test automation which is such a critical part of the DevOps approach. 

The whole point of DevOps is to have seamless coordination between developers and operations and quality assurance teams. DevOps is used to enable continuous feedback between developers and operations. This ensures that software is built, deployed, tested and released in faster cycles; and that feedback from customers becomes an integral part of the product even as it’s still being developed. It’s important that code is tested as quickly and thoroughly as possible so that releases are quicker. This makes it critical to choose the right testing tools. Choosing a testing tool that suits your organisation’s DevOps practices, not just as they are now, but also how they might shape up in the next few years, will save you valuable time and money. 

Importance of DevOps in an organisation

The core philosophy behind DevOps is simple. Imagine that your developers work for months or even years perfecting an entire product. Having developed and tested the product in a simulated environment, they believe it’s near perfect. They hand it over to the Operations team and the product is released to customers. Immediately, a whole new set of issues crop up and both the operations and development teams are scrambling to make changes. 

The operations team blames developers for a faulty product and the developers feel that the product work seamlessly before and that fault must lie with the release and execution. At the end of the day, the release cycle is long, teams are not collaborating, the product is sub-par the customer ends up getting ignored, and the organisation as a whole becomes less efficient. 

DevOps overcomes this problem by ensuring coordination between the Operations, Development and Quality Assurance teams through the product life-cycle. The idea is to foster a culture of continuous collaboration to avoid development in independent silos and enable bug-fixes throughout the product development cycle. As a result, product features are released in shorter cycles and feedback from operations and from the end customer is continuously incorporated. As collaboration improves and ownership of projects increases, companies witness not only increased speed, efficiency, and improved software quality, but also an improvement in employee morale and motivation. Over time, organizations that make an active effort to adopt DevOps will have a significant competitive advantage. To understand the importance of DevOps in more detail, you can download our guide “Why adopting a devops model can be good for your company”.

7 excellent DevOps testing tools to choose from

With test automation and continuous testing being such a critical part of an effective DevOps process, choosing the right testing tool is key. Luckily, there are a number of DevOps testing tools that go a long way towards building automation and continuous integration. Some of these tools are open-source while others charge a monthly or annual fee. The combination of tools that will work best for you depends entirely on your business context and the stage in which your DevOps practices are.

1. AppVerify

AppVerify is one of the best continuous testing tools for DevOps and Agile teams. This is because it allows you to test the entire workflow, including third-party apps, without any additional code or plugins. All you need to do is add some data to a form. AppVerify applies this data to your script to automatically generate all possible test cases. All you have to do is click through your application. Your scripts are created automatically and displayed as everyday actions can understand.  Here are some major advantages of using Appverify:

  • Appverify undertakes automated regression testing from the front end. In other words, It replicates how your users will interact with the app and gives you invaluable insights about your user experience. It also provides you with screenshots of failures.
  • You can define the validation points anywhere in the workflow. At each validation point, Appverify looks for expected outcomes to decide if the test case passed or failed.

2. Selenium

Selenium is a software testing framework for web apps. The Selenium IDE(Integrated Development Environment) allows you to write tests without having to learn a test scripting language. Here are the major benefits of using Selenium:

  • You can actually write tests in a number of common languages including PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, Perl, C#, and Groovy. Selenium provides a test-domain specific language called Selenese that enables you to do this.
  • It supports testing for both Android as well as iOS mobile applications. 
  • The Web-Driver API has been added to Selenium in recent years. It uses the native automation technique and is much faster. 
  • 3. JMeter

    JMeter is a load and functional testing tool that works across different network protocols. It’s been developed in Java for testing web applications and has a fairly simple learning curve. Here are some of its main features:

  • It’s an open source tool that has been developed as an extensible and pluggable tool suite with JMeter plugins. 
  • Some of the protocols supported by JMeter include FTP, LDAP, JMS, HTTP, RTE, WebSocket, webservices, and JDBC database connections.
  • JMeter consists of a number of components, each of which belongs to a specific category and is used chronologically during the test. As a result, you use a components tree in the JMeter GUI to develop JMeter scripts.
  • 4. Detox

    Detox is a testing framework that uses a piece of code called Gray box that allows it to synchronize with the app and monitor it from the inside. Gray box can read internal memory and monitor the execution process, which is what sets Detox apart as a testing tool. Here are some of its unique features:

  • Detox’s Gray box is able to see what is happening inside the process. This includes things like when the main thread is idle, when other threads are idle, when animations have ended, if network requests are in flight, and so on. 
  • It works in a way that ensures that nothing changes in the UI hierarchy when it is performing certain actions. 
  • 5. Appium

    Appium is an open source testing automation app that is used extensively in DevOps. It’s designed specifically for testing mobile apps. It is built on the philosophy that you shouldn’t have to include an SDK or recompile your app to test it. Appium also believes you should be able to use the frameworks, tools, and practices you prefer to test your app. Appium tests all kinds of apps from native apps built for Android, Windows, and iOS as well as web and hybrid apps. Here are some important advantages that come with Appium:

  • Appium supports automated tests on simulators and emulators.
  • As an open-source project, Appium has deliberately used designs and tools that have encouraged a thriving community of contributors. 
  • It’s ease of use is one of Appium’s major advantages. It is very easy to set up and uses very little memory for testing applications.
  • 6. Ranorex

    Ranorex Studio is a GUI test automation framework provided by software development company Ranorex GmbH. The framework is used for testing desktop, web, and mobile applications. Ranorex helps build and deploy automated tests both with and without coding. Testers can use Ranorex tools to create modular automation scripts that are both maintainable and reliable. Here’s a list of Ranorex’s most useful features:

  • Ranorex provides a detailed overview of the test execution allowing you to monitor test results with detailed error logs, pie charts, and failure screenshots.
  • You don’t require any programming expertise to create modular automation scripts on Ranorex. 
  • Ranorex supports a number of different technologies from native apps to legacy desktop applications.
  • 7. Tricentis

    Tricentis has been recognized as game-changing testing software for DevOps. It is widely regarded by many analysts as the industry’s best Continuous Testing platform. It’s especially known for its breakthrough functional testing technologies. Here are some of its most exciting features:

  • It enables teams to achieve scriptless end-to-end test automation with unprecedented automation rates of over 90%.
  • It enables risk-based testing with crystal clear insights into business risk.
  • Tricentis was founded back in 2007 and provides international services to a variety of industries including financial services, commerce, insurance, healthcare, telecommunications, logistics and transports, utilities, and software. As a result, Tricentis has one of the most experienced and extensive technical support systems in the industry.
  • It focusses on maximizing reuse and maintainability and can reduce regression testing time to minutes.
  • It integrates and extends existing test assets including HPE UFT, Selenium, and Soap UI. This means your enterprise can move to a faster and continuous feedback process without major transition issues. 
  • Each of the 7 testing tools discussed in this article has its unique strengths, and your choice should be based on what suits your business’ needs. Do let us know which DevOps testing tools have you tried in the past and how have they worked for you. We understand that implementing DevOps holistically across an organisation can be a complex and painstaking task. If you are struggling with DevOps implementation in any way, you can always reach out to an outsourced team of DevOps experts.

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    How to Choose the Right Front-End Framework for Your Software Project

    Many developers wonder if using a front-end framework is really worth it. It’s true that front-end frameworks have a learning curve and can take some time to study and understand. But unless you’re just building a pure HTML/CSS website that displays only static information, it makes sense to invest in a front-end framework. Otherwise, you will find yourself reinventing the wheel each time.

    There are several features in a good front-end framework (data flow, modularization templating, etc) that enable you to hit the ground running when you’re developing a new app or website. No wonder that front-end frameworks have become more and more commonplace in the last few years.

    Given their increasing popularity, a wide variety of frameworks are now available. In fact, new frameworks keep coming up every year. While most people are aware of popular options like Bootstrap, there may be a newer framework that is better suited to your needs.

    Here are some of the top things to keep in mind when you choose a front-end framework.

    What do you want the framework to do?

    To begin with, we need to understand what the front-end framework is for. A framework is simply a canvas that makes it easier to develop software vis-a-vis if you had to do it from scratch. Think of a framework like an electrician’s toolkit. There’s a number of tools that they can use to fix an electrical problem. But the specific tools they use will depend on their own experience as well as the nature of the problem.
    The front-end framework will help you build the part of the website that users see. Common pre-built features that come with front-end frameworks include side panels, navigation, and buttons. When you choose a front-end framework, you first need to make sure that it has all the tools you’ll be needing for your project. Secondly, your developers need to be comfortable with these tools.

    Skill level

    The front-end framework will help you build the part of the website that users see. Common pre-built features that come with front-end frameworks include side panels, navigation, and buttons. When you choose a front-end framework, you first need to make sure that it has all the tools you’ll be needing for your project. Secondly, your developers need to be comfortable with these tools.

    Business goals

    The size and nature of your project play a key role in deciding which kind of front-end framework works best. For instance, if you are building something very basic, such as a static website, you can get away with using vanilla JavaScript and not going for a framework at all. If the project is even a little more complex, a framework makes sense. Even so, simpler frameworks like Vue.js work better for smaller projects while more complex projects need more robust frameworks like Bootstrap, React, or Angular.
    The ultimate purpose of the project also plays a big role in deciding which front-end framework will work best. For instance, if you’re building enterprise software that has a large budget and is expected to process numerous transactions, then you need frameworks that emphasize reliability, consistency, and reusability over everything else. Angular and React, having been around for the longest time, meet this need. If, on the other hand, you’re building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) with the goal of testing a new product, you want a simple framework that can help you make quick decisions and meet short deadlines. Vue.js works better in this scenario.

    Prototypes and appearance

    Wireframing and quick prototyping is the key to faster website design and development. In a business environment where time-to-market is crucial, you need to make sure your front-end framework comes with built-in wireframing and prototyping functionality.
    The other important factor is the look and feel of the website. It’s the first impression of your product and needs to be completely aligned with your brand story. You need to choose a framework that let’s you achieve the perfect look and feel with the least amount of effort.

    CSS Preprocessors

    CSS preprocessors have a number of features including mixins, variables, and nesting that ease the development process. Most tech teams use either SASS or LESS. Make sure that the front-end framework you choose to use supports the CSS preprocessor you prefer.

    Top front-end frameworks

    There’s a wide variety of frameworks to choose from nowadays. These range from lean to robust, and popular to niche.

    Here’s our pick of the top front-end frameworks in 2020.

    Semantic-UI

    Although Semantic-UI is relatively new, it’s a nimble and lightweight framework that’s growing in popularity among newbies. The best part about Semantic-UI is that it requires very little coding skill. It uses Natural Language, as a result of which the code is more-or-less self-explanatory. Secondly, it is integrated with a number of libraries, making the development process much easier and more streamlined. It also has versatile elements which make customization easier.
    The flipside is that Semantic-UI has very large packages compared to Bootstrap and Foundation. Moreover, it’s not the best option in projects which are more complex in their design and functionality.

    Materialize

    Materialize is a front-end framework that incorporates Google’s material design specifications. Its major advantage is that it has a wide variety of components including icons, cards, forms, and ready-to-use buttons. It also has a ton of other exciting features like material design shadows, colors, typography, ripple-effect animation, SASS mixins, and drag-out mobile menus. It also has a version that runs on SASS so it’s great for teams that prefer this CSS preprocessor. On the other hand, Materialize has a very large file size which makes it a comparatively bloated framework to work with.

    Pure

    Pure is one of the nimblest and lightest front-end frameworks. It has a flexible array of CSS modules that can be used to create a number of features including menus, grids, tables, and responsive buttons. Its nimbleness makes it the perfect framework for those looking to design fast-loading, responsive mobile websites. The major drawback of this framework is that it’s purely CSS based; in other words, it doesn’t support any javascript or jQuery plug-ins.

    Bootstrap

    Bootstrap is one of the most robust and popular front-end frameworks out there. Developed for Twitter in 2011, it’s one of the most widely used open-source frameworks. Although it’s been around for a while, it gets updated constantly, which means it has themes that meet Google’s material design guidelines and adheres to responsive design standards. It also runs on the SASS CSS preprocessor. The only major drawback of Bootstrap is its bulkiness. It has a file size of 276 kB, largely due to a multitude of styles, most of which are rarely used. It also has too many DOM elements and HTML classes which can be unnecessarily confusing at times.
    In an era where time-to-market is everything, most tech teams use frameworks to simplify and hasten website design and development. In addition to the well-established frameworks, there are new ones coming up every year. The one you ultimately go with depends mainly on the nature and goal of your project and the skill set of your front-end and full-stack developers.
    Use the comment section below to let us know which front-end framework you’re currently using and why. If you’re struggling with front-end development and need some support, you can always reach out to our team of experts here at Santex.
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    How to Measure Agile Success With the Right Metrics

    Business environments are drastically different today than what they were a few decades ago. This is especially true for tech companies. Adapting to an uncertain and even turbulent business environment is the key to success in the tech industry. That’s why companies are constantly looking for methods that help them identify uncertainty and adapt and respond accordingly.

    Agile is one such methodology that has been around for more than 15 years now. It focuses on building autonomous, high-performance, and cross-functional teams that are capable of adapting quickly to customer feedback and changes in the business environment. Simply speaking, Agile is an alternative approach to project management that:

    The Agile methodology was developed in 2001 as an alternative to traditional waterfall methods. Waterfall project management doesn’t allow for any changes to take place during the development process. No step can begin until the previous step has finished, and no step can be revisited later. As you can imagine, the Waterfall is completely inappropriate in a business environment that thrives on adaptability. Hence, the need for Agile. 

    Agile metrics: the key to successful Agile implementation

    Despite its numerous benefits, implementing Agile in your organization can be tricky, especially if you want it to have a transformative impact. Measuring Agile success is a critical part of effective Agile implementation. Here’s why:

    Cost of implementing Agile

    The cost of change that comes with adopting Agile can be significant. Of course, this includes the tangible costs of training, reorganization, coaching, and re-engineering of the development environment. It also includes intangible costs like productivity losses that are an inevitable part of such massive change. Since the organization is undertaking such a significant investment when it shifts to Agile, it’s very important to measure how the Agile implementation is going and if it is actually yielding significant returns. This is where effective Agile metrics come into play.

    Agile and the PDCA Loop

    Agile can only be effective if it follows the PDCA(Plan-Do-Check-Act) Loop that most lean approaches use. For effective Agile implementation, you need to first set a goal and decide what needs to be done to achieve it (Plan), get it done (Do), inspect the results (Check), make the adjustments you need (Act) and then do it all over again. With every iteration, you get better and move closer to your goal. However, unless you have a mechanism in place to inspect results, the PDCA loop won’t close and the continuous improvement which is the essence of Agile will become impossible. That’s another reason why Agile metrics are so critical. 

    Measuring Agile success: how to start, things to keep in mind

    At the end of the day, the goal of Agile is to satisfy customers by rapidly delivering valuable software. This overarching goal should form the basis for all the metrics that are used to measure Agile success. Here are some of the most important things you need to keep in mind before you decide which Agile metrics makes sense for your business.

    Product Value

    In recent years, the value that the product brings to the business has become the most important factor in determining Agile metrics. In fact, 44% of respondents in the State of Agile survey said that they measured the success of their Agile initiatives by their business value.  It’s important that all Agile initiatives support corporate strategy to the maximum possible extent. 

    In some cases, business value is easy enough to ascertain. For instance, if you’re building a product that you are required by contract to deliver within a specific timeframe to your client, then the product automatically becomes valuable. However, for most B2C and even B2B products, the product value is measured through KPIs like customer acquisition, retention, growth, incremental revenue and so on. These KPIs can change with a change in the business environment so it’s important to keep re-examining them to make sure you’re still tracking the right metrics. An epic cumulative chart flow based on value can help you see how business value is getting delivered as product features get completed. 

    Product Quality

    Some people believe that revenue increases and customer feedback, although important, cannot be the only measure of Agile success because they can be affected by a number of factors. It’s important to also have metrics around product quality that can help you gauge Agile success with more objectivity. In fact, 48% of respondents said they use product quality metrics to determine the success of their Agile initiatives. These metrics can be observed throughout the product development cycle with automated continuous testing and delivery. The best part about product quality metrics is that they directly drive product improvement. Defect tracking charts and testing trend charts can be used to effectively measure product quality.

    Productivity

    One of the major advantages of Agile is that it creates self-organized teams that are autonomous and high-performing. Therefore it’s important to incorporate metrics to measure how Agile teams are performing. 29% of respondents use productivity metrics to measure the success of their Agile implementation. These metrics enable you to measure progress over a period of time and give a bird’s eye view of how teams have transformed after adopting Agile. Velocity, iterations to production, and WIP are examples of effective productivity metrics. Just looking at a burnup count of features over time is also a simple but effective way to measure productivity.

    Delivery

    On-time delivery is the main goal behind adopting methodologies like Agile and DevOps. A whopping 58% of respondents said that on-time delivery is the main factor when it comes to measuring Agile success. Time-to-market builds can become the difference between being a market leader vs just another me-too product. Burnup and burndown charts are a great way to identify and track the right delivery metrics. Burndown charts measure the amount of work to be completed vis-a-vis the time left to complete it. Burnup charts, on the other, hand illustrate the percentage of work that has been completed with respect to the total amount of work.  

    Product scope

    39% of respondents said they used product scope and features to measure Agile success. Product scope refers to outlining a goal that is to be achieved in the next quarter. It then helps to track progress over time and see how close you are to achieving that goal. Burndown charts are a great way to track progress over time.

    Apart from these major considerations, there are a number of other factors that help decide which Agile metrics to choose. These include positive feedback and customer satisfaction, visibility and transparency throughout the workflow, predictability of the development cycle and work completion, and process improvement. Of course, different values will have different priorities based on the stage of your business and the product life cycle. You need to choose metrics that focus on the values that matter to your organization.

    Who are Agile metrics for?

    The driving force behind Agile is the creation of self-organizing teams. Agile can only be implemented through a set of diverse, autonomous, and high-performing teams. Unless teams are able to understand how they are doing, they will be unable to figure out where improvements need to be made. Agile metrics help teams to review and reflect on data so that future development cycles can become faster and more productive. 

    However, it’s important to dive deeper into the metrics to understand why the data is a certain way. Say, for instance, release frequency has reduced in the last month. This may be because the team was working on a particularly complex project or it may be a result of a deeper productivity issue. The distinction is important because the action to be taken in either case is completely different. It’s not enough for teams to just review metrics, it’s also important to understand why they are moving in a certain direction. 

    The Agile Metrics that matter 

    Based on the purpose behind them, metrics can be classified into:

    Pace and value metrics

    These metrics measure the value delivered and the pace of delivery. Most experts believe pace and value metrics are the key to effective Agile measurement. Here are some of the most important ones.

    Velocity

    One of the most commonly used Agile metrics, Velocity determines the regular run-rate for an Agile team. When things are going fine, the goal is to keep the Velocity as stable and predictable as possible. Of course, teams may also be looking to use automation tools and process efficiencies to increase the Velocity. To calculate Velocity you just need to add all the story points that were moved to “Done” in a particular sprint. The Velocity is calculated by comparing completed story points in the current sprint with those completed in the previous sprint. 

    Release frequency

    One of the major goals of lean methodologies like Agile and DevOps is to shorten release cycles. Measuring the frequency with which new features and bug fixes are released helps keep a track of this goal. The automation, high-performing teams and process efficiencies that come with Agile should help improve release frequency considerably over a period of time.

    WIP

    Work in Progress refers to all the stories that have been committed but not completed yet. Too many tasks in this category could mean that the team is constantly shifting focus and leaving tasks incomplete. There should be an agreed-upon limit to WIP that should always be adhered to unless exceptional circumstances dictate otherwise. 

    Iteration complete to production

    An Agile iteration is a short period of time (usually 1-2 weeks) where a team takes one or two of their customers’ most important user stories and complete them to create working software. Every iteration should usually result in code that goes live, but it may not always happen or it may take too long. Many teams track the time between the end of the iteration and when the code is in production. 

    Cycle time

    Kanban teams often use cycle time as a key metric and they plot cycle time on a control chart. Cycle time is the time that it takes to move individual stories from “in progress” to “done”. Ideally, the average cycle time should not be more than half a sprint. There are two things that teams consider when they measure cycle time- consistency and span of time. The shorter the cycle time, the higher the throughput; and the more consistent the cycle time the more predictability in delivery.

    Quality metrics

    These metrics focus on product quality and are regarded as a more objective measure of Agile success. Here are a few important quality metrics. 

    Defects density

    Defect density is the number of defects founded in software during a particular development period. Defect density can also be measured per thousand lines of code (KLOC). It’s important to track defects during the iteration and defects during production as two different metrics. Defects during iteration help decide whether software can be released whereas defects during production help you make decisions about which bug-fixes need to be released.

    Percentage of automated test coverage

    Automated testing is one of the key advantages of Agile. It reduces cycle time and enables more frequent releases. Measuring the percentage of the code base that is covered by automated testing helps understand how much time is being saved. 

    Satisfaction metrics

    These metrics are suited for teams that believe customer and employee satisfaction are at the heart of successful Agile implementation. Here are three important ones. 

    Customer satisfaction at the team level

    Customer satisfaction can be measured at the team level for every iteration. Since there are several iterations happening simultaneously, a simple 1-5 scale or smiley face indicators should suffice. 

    Net Promoter Score (NPS)

    The NPS can be used at an enterprise level. It is an index that measures customer satisfaction on a scale of -100 to 100. The NPS survey asks a simple question “How likely are you to recommend this product to someone else?” The NPS is a simple and effective measure to indicate the level of customer satisfaction. Of course, the average NPS differs from one industry to another.

    Team happiness

    Since autonomous and high-performing teams are key to Agile success, it’s important to measure employee satisfaction. A 1-5 scale or smiley indicators for every iteration work well in this case too. Employees can either rate their own satisfaction or the satisfaction of the team as a whole. These ratings are good starting points for discussions around satisfaction and cultivating a healthy work culture.

    Conclusion

    Effective Agile implementation takes time, patience, and most importantly, a buy-in from the entire team. This buy-in simply cannot be achieved unless every employee is convinced about the effectiveness of Agile. That’s why it’s critical to have the right Agile metrics in place from day one. As employees start seeing the impact of Agile on teams and projects, they become more motivated to implement Agile across the company. Choosing the right metrics then tracking them consistently is a very important part of successful Agile implementation. 

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    Why Adopting a DevOps Model can be Good for Your Company?

    Some Agile methods are simple enough to define but much harder to execute, and DevOps is one of them. The term DevOps comes from development and operations. The function of DevOps is to reconcile the work of the developers with the operational functions of a project. In the early years, most companies adopted DevOps to become more competitive. In today’s environment, DevOps has almost become a survival tool. 

    How does adopting the DevOps model actually enable success. The model leads to the development of five important faculties that every company needs to survive. These include:

    • Sensing
    • Modifying
    • Adapting
    • Learning & Improving

    Companies that have ignored these have often fallen by the wayside and lost their market leadership to more competitive players. Video rental company Blockbuster is a great example. It once dominated the market before it gave way to competitors like Netflix and eventually filed for bankruptcy. Blockbuster is a company that could not Sense customer needs (validated by proper data of course). As a result, it could not Modify its business model fast enough to Adapt to the new environment and simply didn’t give itself the chance to Learn & Improve. As a result, Blockbuster no longer exists today while its one-time competitor Netflix is a global behemoth valued at $155 billion.

    Apart from crazy growth and global success, companies like Amazon, Etsy, Netflix, and Walmart have something else in common. They all use the DevOps methodology to increase efficiency, improve products, and shorten development cycles. DevOps as a methodology is now in its 10th year and according to Gartner, more than 70% of IT companies have adopted DevOps. In this article, we’ll talk about what DevOps is all about and how it can benefit an organization. We’ll also talk about how you should go about adopting a DevOps model. 

    What is DevOps?

    In today’s day and age, time to market is often the difference between being a market leader and a me-too product. In order to keep pace with frenetic market demands, companies need to build, deploy, test and release software in faster cycles. 

    DevOps is a methodology that fosters a culture of collaboration between all the areas of the company (development, operations, and quality assurance teams). This prevents product development from happening in independent silos. As a result, development cycles are a lot shorter, the product incorporates customer feedback more seamlessly, and bug-fixes are done throughout product development. Adopting a DevOps model can become a savior for IT teams, especially when collaboration between teams has been an obstacle in the past.

    Why You Should be Adopting a DevOps Culture?

    Let’s take a small example to illustrate why DevOps really matters and why it has found such a strong foothold in the tech industry. Let’s say there’s an HRtech company that is working on creating cutting-edge Employee Wellness software. The development team works for 7 months to build an AI-enabled tool that gauges employees’ physical and mental health and then provides personalized recommendations. They test the product in a controlled dev environment and everything works smoothly. They are happy with a job well done and hand over the tool to the Operations team.

    As the Operations team releases the product to a few existing clients, things start going wrong. Many employees find the questions invasive, some recommendations are completely off-the-mark, and there are 404 errors everywhere. Clients start hounding the Operations team. The Operations team accuses the development team of shipping out a half-baked product. Developers, on the other hand, feel that the product worked just fine in the testing environment and things probably went wrong during execution. Even worse, they’re still not exactly sure what the problems are and how to fix them. 

    The result? A sub-par product that took ages to develop and will now take even more time to fix. Two excellent teams that now blame each other instead of collaborating. And a slow, inefficient organization that will most likely be beaten to market by a competitor. 

    If the company had adopted a DevOps methodology, the development and operations teams would have collaborated from Day 1. Quality assurance and real-world testing would have started during the development phase. The MVP (Minimum Viable Product) would be released in the shortest possible time and customer feedback would be incorporated in future iterations of the product. The result? A product that would have taken less time to develop, reached the market much faster and got great customer feedback. Even better, the development, QA, and operations teams would have worked closely with one another, fostering a sense of purpose and ownership across the board. 

    As the example above proves, DevOps can have a drastic impact on both the efficiency and the spirit of your company. Companies need to cultivate a culture of collaboration and experimentation for DevOps to be able to thrive. The key to developing a DevOps culture is shifting employee mindset towards a more experimental and collaborative approach. This involves moving away from a risk-averse mindset to one that is more open to experimentation and even failure. Adopting a DevOps culture is the foundation for a smooth transition to DevOps. 

    The Main Benefits of DevOps

    More and more companies across the world are adopting the DevOps methodology because, in the last 10 years, it has driven some of the tech industry’s biggest success stories. Here are some of the major benefits of DevOps. 

    Speed

    Speed is the major driving force behind DevOps adoption. Since DevOps fosters collaboration between teams, customer feedback can be incorporated quicker, testing can be done during the development cycle, and changesets are smaller. All of this results in a much shorter development cycle and lesser time to market. Important Devops practices like microservices and continuous delivery, continuous integration and continuous deployment allow teams to take ownership of products and ship updates much faster. Companies that respond to changing customer needs quickly will eventually become market leaders. DevOps allows organizations to release updates more frequently. This means new features can be released even before customers realize they need them and bugs can be fixed before they become a major issue.

    Decouple Teams

    Ideally, teams should be organised based on decoupled software services. These should either support a business function or be a group of features that go together. Each team should function like a small independent software organisation and design, develop, test, and deploy their own software. This means that each small team needs to have developers, QA members, and operations support. Without an integrated DevOps approach, this can be very difficult.

    Reliability

    Many times, companies end up paying a steep price for rapid software delivery. Faster software delivery almost always comes at the cost of quality and reliability. DevOps helps manage this trade-off successfully by ensuring that the quality of updates and infrastructure changes is maintained even as software releases become faster. DevOps practices like continuous integration and continuous delivery to make sure that every change is reliable and functional before it is shipped. In addition, the DevOps practice of monitoring and logging ensures that you are able to keep an eye on the performance in real-time. This allows you to detect performance problems within seconds and take action accordingly.

    Scale

    A major reason why DevOps catapulted to fame was that companies like Google and Amazon found it extremely hard to manage their rapid growth until they adopted DevOps. DevOps tools and practices are designed to manage both tech infrastructure and internal workflows at scale. Most DevOps tools like Jenkins, Docker, and Amazon EC2 enable automation at different stages of the development cycle. This allows you to manage systems efficiently even as you scale rapidly. Similarly, the DevOps practice of infrastructure as code enables you to manage different environments (development, testing, and production) more efficiently.

    Improved Collaboration

    DevOps doesn’t aim to eliminate the differences between your development and operations teams. Rather, it aims to build a bridge between the two teams so that the differences can be recognized and worked with to achieve common goals. In a DevOps environment, the two teams combine workflows, share responsibilities, but also take ownership and accountability. As a result, everyone comes together as one team, the handover time between development and operations reduces and the development environment becomes more seamless. Both teams needs to collaborate with each other to understand the requirements better, and then design them using code/automation/scripts. This makes each deployment much simpler than if the teams were working in isolation.

    Security

    Security is another thing that often gets compromised in the rush to market. Weeks says, “If you are doing continuous delivery, then you are making hundreds of changes to your environment every day. The old process does not work. If you are trying to check all components at the end of the development lifecycle, you are in for a lot of rework.” 

    With DevOps, you can use configuration management techniques, automated compliance policies, and detailed controls to maintain high levels of security even as you prioritize speed and rapid delivery. Using DevOps practices like policy as code, and infrastructure as code, you can define and track compliance at scale, allowing you to manage security concerns even as development cycles become shorter. 

    Enhanced job satisfaction

    DevOps enables the organization to focus more on performance vis-a-vis hierarchy. Since teams collaborate more, they end up sharing both risks and rewards. This fosters a culture of ownership and teamwork and every employee understands how they’re contributing to the bigger picture. As a result, employees are more driven and productive which improves organizational efficiency by leaps and bounds.

    How to adopt a DevOps Model 

    We’ve already discussed how DevOps has the potential to transform outcomes for many tech businesses. There is a big difference between deciding to adopt the DevOps approach and actually integrating it successfully throughout the organization. Here’s what you need to keep in mind while adopting a DevOps model.

    Adopting the DevOps Mindset

    One of the biggest reasons why most companies fail to adopt DevOps successfully is because they prioritize tools over mindset. In other words, senior management simply decides to adopt DevOps and then introduces DevOps automation tools into the company. However, automation is simply a facilitator of DevOps, it is not the essence. 

    The essence of DevOps is a collaborative mindset that runs through the organization, enabling shared responsibilities and a willingness to strive towards a common goal. Which is why inculcating this mindset is the key to successful DevOps adoption. Before adopting the DevOps methodology, it’s important to communicate with the different teams (development, QA, operations, etc) to bring home the need for DevOps. You can only hope to succeed at DevOps implementation if everyone on your team understands why it’s important. 

    Many companies also use the outside-in approach with DevOps adoption. In other words, they first bring in the DevOps tools and then apply them to different parts of their workflow. A better way to go about adopting DevOps is the inside-out approach. Examine your workflow from development to testing and deployment and understand where things are slow and inefficient. Then work towards improving those parts of the workflow with DevOps automation. This will also bring employee buy-in because they will see their most important problems getting solved. 

    What are your specific needs?

    With the number of DevOps tools out there, it’s easy to look at DevOps as a one-size-fits-all kind of solution. The fact of the matter is that not all elements of DevOps suit all businesses. Or are even required. 

    For instance, one of the benefits of DevOps is the rapid delivery of new features and bug-fixes. But getting 15-20 product updates a day might actually be counterproductive for your customers. So maybe rapid delivery is not something you need to focus on as an organization. On the other hand, you may be growing very quickly and scalability might be a real concern with your product. In that case, you need to align your DevOps goals towards the goal of scalability. 

    For DevOps to work for you, it’s important to first understand where your organization lags behind and what are the goals you need to achieve through DevOps implementation. 

    Select the right metrics

    The key to successful DevOps implementation is being able to measure the results of our efforts. In high-growth tech companies, there is a tendency to celebrate successes but hide weaknesses and failures. However, unless we’re able to measure critical weaknesses they will never improve and can even lead to the death of the organization in the future. Which is why it’s important to measure those metrics that reflect real outcomes vis-a-vis vanity metrics that look good but don’t matter much. Metrics provide insights into what’s happening at all stages of the DevOps pipeline — from design to development to deployment.

    Some effective DevOps metrics that can help you measure progress over a period of time include:

    Mean time to recover

    This indicates how long it takes an application to recover from a failure on average.

    Deployment speed

    This reflects how fast you can deploy the new version of a website or application to a particular environment.

    Mean time to production

    This measures the time it takes to deploy new code into production after it has been committed to a repository.

    Production failure rate

    This measures the number of times a product fails while it’s in production. It’s measured over a fixed period of time say a week, a month, or a year. 

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    The Complete Blockchain Developer Resource List

    Blockchain has shifted from being an underground technological phenomenon to a household name. However, there is much more to blockchain development than bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs. Lauded by some as “The Internet 3.0,” its use as a decentralized system has the potential to disrupt, innovate, and streamline business operations in numerous organizations, from private firms to government entities. Blockchain tools are being used to increase security and transparency, reduce costs, cut out the middleman, and improve efficiency for companies worldwide.

    What isblockchain? 

    At its core, blockchain is a decentralized, irreversible, immutable data ledger. Each “block” is secured and connected together using cryptographic principles in a “chain.” No one can tamper with the data, and the information is transparently available to everyone with access to the blockchain. The technology is still young, but it will only become more powerful as time goes on.

    Blockchain development in business

    Some of the most common uses of blockchain in business environments are smart contracts, the Hyperledger, and public, private, and permissioned blockchains. 

    Smart contracts are used to transparently verify and enforce the terms of a contract without a third party. All transactions conducted through smart contracts are trackable and immutable. Smart contracts can be integrated into blockchains at all levels. 

    Hosted by The Linux Foundation, Hyperledger is behind numerous open-source collaborative efforts to facilitate business transactions on a shared ledger database, including Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth. According to Hyperledger’s official website, the collaboration hopes “to build a new generation of transactional applications that establishes trust, accountability and transparency at their core, while streamlining business processes and legal constraints.” 

    Public, private, and permissioned blockchains each employ varying levels of access to address the needs provided by the platform. Public blockchains are open to all, such as Bitcoin. Private blockchains are typically used within a specific company, entity, or organization. Permissioned blockchains are generally created for a specific population, such as employees at various companies within one particular industry. 

    In an IBM study with over 3,000 executives, 80 percent confirmed that they were planning to implement or had already implemented blockchain development tools in their businesses. A Juniper Research survey found that only nine percent of companies with over 20,000 employees had no intention of using blockchain tools. But, exactly how can blockchain be used to help your business? Here are some of the most popular blockchain development tools in 2019.

    Ethlint

    Formerly known as Solium, Ethlint is a tool that is used to uncover style and security vulnerabilities in smart contracts. Its redistributable configuration fosters a degree of flexibility to choose the most appropriate measures to apply to your project. In addition, its functionality can be extended into your own plugins and integrated with your continuous integration systems, allowing you to standardize your coding practices and simplify your code review and audit procedures.

    Ethlint aims to become the “future of smart contract automation” by streamlining and automating smart contract development, constructing the tools necessary to facilitate data push/pull and off-chain computation, and enable smart contract deployment practices. 

    SoLC: Solidity Compiler

    Solidity is one of the most used programming languages for the development and execution of smart contracts. This contract-oriented, high-level language is influenced by JavaScript, Python, and C++ is designed to target the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Similarly to other programming languages, Solidity uses a compiler to convert its smart contracts into a format that can be understood by the Ethereum Virtual Environment. 

    Two Solidity compilers are currently available. SoLC is coded in C++, whereas SoLC-js, a Node.js library and command-line tool, cross-compiles the code from C++ to JavaScript using Emscripten. Although both function well as compilers, SoLC-js runs faster and is easier to install than SoLC. 

    Parity 

    To interact with the blockchain and deploy your smart contracts, you need an Ethereum client. Ethereum clients offer an interface through which users can parse and verify the blockchain and its smart contracts as well as create transactions and mine blocks. 

    Parity Ethereum aims to be the fastest, most secure, and most advanced Ethereum client on the market. Written in the Rust programming language, it was founded by the former CTO of Ethereum, Gavin Wood. Parity Ethereum, which is directly integrated into a web browser, has been “built for mission-critical use,” as stated on its official documentation. The platform allows its users, including miners, service providers, and exchanges, to access the blockchain with maximum uptime, fast synchronization, and a minimal memory and storage footprint. 

    MetaMask

    MetaMask is a browser extension that serves as “a bridge that allows you to visit the distributed web of tomorrow in your browser today.” The browser add-on allows users to run Ethereum decentralized applications (DApps) without running a full Ethereum node. As MetaMask hosts several nodes through its platform, registered users are automatically connected to one of their nodes, thus providing a secure identity vault and user interface to interact with the Ethereum blockchain.

    Available in 18 languages, MetaMask can be used on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Brave to access Web 3.0, DApps, NFTs, erc20, tokens, ICOs, erc271, and more. 

    DAppBoard

    DAppBoard is an open-source platform that provides key metrics about Ethereum applications to monitor, understand, and expand your blockchain project. As every protocol, project, and Dapp is different and uses different metrics to measure success, the company strives to offer categories and metrics that matter most to each user. Its “Ecosystem 360 View” feature provides a comprehensive view to give users a deeper insight into the Ethereum blockchain.

    The platform provides KPI dashboards, hosted dashboards with time blockchain data, and DApp metric reports for a wide range of blockchain businesses, such as exchanges, wallets,  DeFi protocols, asset/security tokenization companies, and asset/fund management firms. 

    Blockchain is more than bitcoin. Thousands of executives throughout the globe are planning to incorporate the technology into their business operations. To learn more about incorporating innovative technologies and approaches into your business, download our e-book, “Why Adopting a DevOps Model Can be Good for Your Company.”

     

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    Best Practices for Software Outsourcing

    You may be wondering what outsourcing your software development will entail. According to Gartner, “IT outsourcing is the use of external service providers to effectively deliver IT-enabled business processes, application services, and infrastructure solutions for business outcomes.”

    While you can do software development in-house, it’s often more practical to outsource the task to a company whose main infrastructure is built around software development. They’ll already have people who are trained in the skills necessary for software development, while you may have to train your team members and managers to become skilled in software development practices. Even if you have software development teams, your in-house team may not have the skills or bandwidth needed to execute a new kind of project. Outsourcing comes in very handy in such a situation.

    The software industry is a big one, particularly when it comes to Software as a Service (SaaS). This model offers all software hosted in the cloud, which is then accessed by businesses and/or individuals who purchase access. The SaaS market is expected to grow at approximately $117 billion by the end of 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of approximately 21%.

    Industry Trends

    There are several software trends that are gaining momentum right now and are expected to become dominant in the future. These trends include artificial intelligence, progressive web apps, cybersecurity, blockchain development, and low-code development.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most up and coming technologies and is expected to be at $3.9 trillion by 2022.

    When people think of blockchain technology, they often think of Bitcoin, but the tech goes far beyond the cryptocurrency. Blockchain is defined as “a peer-to-peer network of interconnected computers for storing data or information which can’t be modified or stolen by anyone.” IBM has its own blockchain platform and Microsoft has been adding BaaS (Blockchain as a Service) modules to its Azure platform.

    A progressive web app is an app that looks and acts like a traditional website. These types of apps are becoming more and more popular as people tend to use their mobile devices (phones and tablets) instead of laptops and desktops for accessing information.

    Cybersecurity will continue to take precedence as companies are still reporting cybersecurity attacks occurring on their business. Protecting data loss is a high priority for most companies, followed closely by threats to data privacy and breaches of confidentiality.

    Of course, the industry will grow and change beyond the trends discussed above, but those are the major software development areas to keep an eye on. By watching the trends and adjusting your methods to align with those trends, your company can continue to be successful, even as you’re outsourcing important software development projects. 

    Low-code development is a form of software development that doesn’t require as much expertise in coding as traditional software development does. This form of development is expected to overtake traditional forms in the next few years as it’s easier and more cost-efficient.

    Challenges of Developing Software in a New Era

    When it comes to developing software in this new business era, companies and individuals will face myriad challenges. However, there are ways to overcome those challenges without totally losing your mind or your competitive edge. Here are five of the most common challenges in developing software. We also discuss how to overcome them so that your entire team doesn’t decide to throw in the towel at the eleventh hour.

    Challenge #1: Competition is high, thanks to globalization

    Even if you’ve thought of the greatest software idea ever and are sure that nobody else has developed it yet, there’s no telling how close another company is to developing that very same, or similar, software. Whether the competition is local or national, it can be far-reaching in its effects on pricing, structure, and much more. 

    To overcome this challenge, your project manager will have to work closely with business managers, stakeholders, and others to ensure a project will be a success. This is easily done by ensuring you have protocols in place to protect your ideas and other proprietary content.

    Challenge #2: Infrastructure Issues

    Companies often invest high dollar amounts in maintaining the legacy systems they already have in place. Because of this, companies are often reluctant to replace their current systems with more updated software. 

    This challenge can only be overcome when project managers are able to obtain buy-in from all stakeholders. This can be done by clearly conveying all the benefits of an upgrade to those stakeholders; from improved infrastructure to cost savings.

    Challenge #3: Complicated User Level Requirements

    Having multiple levels of users is almost a given when it comes to accessing software, especially during the development phases, but those requirements can quickly become complicated, causing difficulties for those using and/or developing the software. Some of these difficulties can include admin rights and usage rights, which can vary depending on what the software is being used for.

    To overcome this particular challenge, it’s important to implement rules for using the various systems and software right from the start, depending on the level of the user. This way, a user with less access can’t mess up higher level functions. Nowhere is this more critical than with financial systems, where users need to adhere to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) as set forth by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

    Challenge #4: Attracting Top Talent

    It can be difficult to find top talent when it comes to software development. Many of the top software developers have already been recruited by well-established, top companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Google. However, you’ve probably got some incredibly talented software developers under your roof already. They just need some training to get to where you want them to be. 

    Engineers make learning new technologies their main priority. However, new technologies are often risky ventures and business owners are often hesitant to take those risks. Everyone wants their business to be successful, and sometimes that means taking a risk or two. It doesn’t mean you have to be reckless, but it does mean that you may have to step outside your comfort zone sometimes.

    There is one way you can overcome this challenge without shaking things up too much: create a culture of innovation within your business. You could follow Facebook’s example, in this case, and push decision making down to the engineer level in order to help them feel like they have some autonomy and are working to drive development forward. Get your employees invested in the success of the business and they’ll be more likely to learn the skills they need to grow. When the benefits trickle down, people feel more invested in what they’re working on.