Supporting the FreeBSD Foundation and “Przystan Ocalenie”

We took a kind of a long break from blogging, but we’re back, and this post proves that the reports of our company blog’s death have been greatly exaggerated. So, good to be back, and we have a little announcement to make.

Our company has been in operation for nearly eight years, and through all that time we have mostly been using free and open source sortware. We have been using it both as tools in our work environment, and as platforms on which to build solutions for our clients. Free and open source software has always served us well and helped us develop more easily.

Now, we would like to give something back to the creators of open source software, who often work driven purely by passion and receive no compensation for their time and efforts, even though their work is used by thousands or even millions of users. We have decided that each month we will be donating a little amount of money to an open source project or an organization that promotes free and open source software.

We start this initiative with a donation to the FreeBSD Foundation, which supports the development of the FreeBSD operating system. We have been running FreeBSD on our company servers since the beginning of our existence (and at this very moment FreeBSD is serving you this post).

However, there’s more to life than just software, so we have decided that every month we will also donate the same amount of money to another good cause, not related to software. Today we are supporting “Przystan Ocalenie”, an animal rescue centre devoted to saving horses sold to slaughterhouses, and providing shelter for many animals that have suffered from human cruelty.

Best wishes to the FreeBSD Foundation crew and to all the people and animals at “Przystan Ocalenie”.

LibreOffice Celebrates its First Birthday

Yesterday was the first birthday of the LibreOffice project. In case you haven’t heard of it, LibreOffice is a free software office suite based on The project was started when OpenOffice’s sponsor, Sun Microsystems, got acquired by Oracle Corporation, and the future of OpenOffice became uncertain.

Ars Technica published an article that summarizes the first year of the project and lists its achievements – including reaching an estimated 25 millions of users, and attracting more developers committing code than OpenOffice did in a decade.

As LibreOffice users and proponents of free software, we would like to express our congratulations and wish the project best of luck in the future.

Happy Birthday, LibreOffice!

New Technolgies Congress 2011 by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna

On Monday, September 12th, the Warsaw Hotel Intercontinental held the “New Technologies Congress”, organized by “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” (which is a nationwide daily newspaper in Poland). A two-person delegation of our company attended the event. We had other duties that day and couldn’t participate from the beginning, so we missed two discussion panels on the Internet infrastructure and the consolidation of media and telecommunication markets, but we still had a chance to listen to a few interesting presentations.

The main topics were cloud computing solutions and mobile technologies – which comes as no surprise, as these are the two biggest technological trends of the past months and years. The presentations were given by speakers from Polkomtel SA, ACER Poland, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard Poland, Citi Handlowy, and Google.

In our opinion, the two most captivating presentations were “Business in the Cloud” by Michał Jaworski (Microsoft), and “Mobile Revolution” by Guillaume Bacuvier (Google). The latter was especially interesting in demonstrating the scale and lightning-fast growth of the mobile services market. What we considered the “Fact of the Day” was one piece of statistical information – that the accumulated time spent every day by smartphone and tablet users on playing “Angry Birds” is 125 years.

Summing up, we think the conference was a success, and had very little “corporate factor” – the speakers were mostly talking about technologies, not products. We will be happy to attend the event next year.

(We also hope that next year they will have those delicious chocolate croissants again.)

Redmine – Project Management Tool

Redmine is a web application for project management, developed in the open-source model and distributed freely. Our team has been using it as our primary project management tool for almost a year.

Every company or team which works in the so-called “projectized model” needs robust tools to manage projects. This is especially important in the web/mobile development field, where projects are developed and deployed fast, often as early “betas”.

In our company, the search for a decent project management system was a tough quest. In general, our expectations of such a tool were pretty standard, but we also had a couple specific requirements that we considered vital, and expected the solution to conform to our practices, and not the other way around.

There are probably hundreds of project management tools on the market, web applications or desktop programs, commercial or free, provided in the SaaS model or installed on your server – the list goes on. Being the proponents of free and open-source software, we targeted our search at such solutions – however, this didn’t make it any easier, as there are still dozens of these.

We tried out more than ten different solutions – some of them got disqualified quickly after a preliminary examination, some made it to round two, which was actually using the thing for a few days or weeks. At that point, the best contestants were dotProject and ProjectPier, each of which withstood a few weeks of usage. In the end, however, we found too many things we didn’t like in these tools, and we abandoned them as well.

Finally, we got our hands on Redmine, an application built on the well-known Ruby on Rails framework. What got us immediately interested was its configurability and extensibility, manifested in the overall organization of projects and subprojects, the user permissions system, and a great deal of additional features available as plugins.

Thanks to this flexible design, coupled with the richness of features that Redmine offers, we got a tool that meets a vast majority of our requirements.

Speaking of the richness of features, we found the following most useful:

  • Flexible organization of projects – Redmine allows you to create a hierarchy of projects/subprojects and to archive closed projects
  • Granular access control – Users can be assigned different roles and permissions for each project that they participate in
  • Ability to easily define new issue trackers (such as tasks or bugs) and issue statuses
  • Ability to create discussion boards for each project
  • Time tracking
  • Revision control systems integration (including Subversion and Git)
  • LDAP authentication
  • Configurable E-mail notifications
  • Multiple language versions (especially important for us, since we have both Polish and English-speaking clients)

Of course, nothing is perfect, and there are certain things that Redmine can’t do for us. Still, it’s hands down the best project management tool that we’ve worked with.

If, like us a year ago, you’re looking for a good project management application, we frankly suggest you try Redmine.

Enter the Blog

With this very post we’re starting our company blog. Our intention is to write about the interesting things that happen in our company, about our projects, and to share our experieces from working with new technologies.

We introduced the blog feature as part of a major update of the engine that our website is running on. Until recently, it was based on Drupal (a popular open-source content management system) version 5, which is somewhat outdated and needed to be replaced with a newer release. The current website that you’re looking at has Drupal 7 under the hood.

Working on the transition allowed us to take a close look at the changes that were introduced in Drupal in the years between version 5 and version 7. With no doubt, they were for the better – what we found noteworthy, among other things, is the fact that some vital features that used to be implemented in modules are now in the core (such as the ability to easily create new content types), and that there is a much better implementation of multilanguage features.

With that in mind, we hope Drupal 7 will serve us well, and will help us make you feel welcome on our site.