11 - February - 2014

New Year, New Things!

Post by Mike C

We’re only just into 2014 and things are really moving here at Ixis as we enhance, change and introduce new software systems to continually improve our services for the benefit of our clients.

At the end of last year we’ve made considerable changes to the development team - including standardizing on a new development IDE in the shape of PHPStorm, new onboarding and sign off processes and including a lot more nice to have features from bigger projects into the smaller ones.

We’ve successfully integrated functional tests in to our agile development process by embracing the excellent Codeception framework for PHP. All our development projects are delivered with a test suite ensuring an on-going high level of quality from deployments, and reducing the risk of service failure. Many of our clients are benefiting from the effort Ixis have put into the Codeception research labs as we proactively use support time to build these tests, keeping pace with the development of their sites. Ixis have integrated these functional tests into deployment systems to automate the whole deployment process turning it from a labour intensive concern to a quick, robust and high quality process.

For new development projects we’ve begun the move to standardising our theme framework with Bootstrap 3 and SASS, and started our investigation and testing with the slowly maturing Panopoly Drupal distribution as a potential base for new Drupal 7 projects.

Our projects are now all being handled using a single YouTrack system which is integrated with Open Atrium and Toggl using some custom API work we’ve built. We’re currently trailing Team Week for management of resources for projects - it’s early days but the user interface is clean and slick to get the information we need.

Over with the support team we’ve made some great improvements with our Vagrant development environments and the Drush tool to streamline and speed up our support response service when needing to grab up to the minute database and file archives from our customers live servers. Thanks to some clever custom Drush policy hook code and a centrally managed server alias repository we’ve made it safe to synchronize data from production to development machines for all the team.

The infrastructure team looking after our European servers have been busy implementing and migrating our configuration management over to the Ansible automation system which speeds up the provisioning of servers, user and password management, complex Drupal deployments, and streamlined custom builds of server software tuned for hosting Drupal. We’ve also introduced New Relic Professional as a free additional service for our hosting service which provides detailed monitoring and performance analysis of your servers coupled with our custom Drupal integration to enable correlation between watchdog events and server performance changes over time.

Finally we’ve given our support portal a feature upgrade for 2014 with the adoption and tight integration between Toggl, YouTrack and Open Atrium to provide our clients with up to the minute time tracking reports, billing, threshold alerts as time is consumed, onboarding processes, daily ticket reminders, and improved ticket housekeeping automation. We feel the functionality will enhance our service and improve transparency in our work for all our clients.

Whilst keeping our great clients well looked after this year we’re quietly working on some innovative new products to sharpen our Symfony skills ahead of the Drupal 8 launch sometime in the near future. But we’ll save those announcements for later in the year...

Profile picture for user Mike C

Mike C

Technical Director

12 years of Drupal development wrangling and a background in digital project architecture.

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