by Chris Sainty
In 2012 I moved from Australia to Sweden to join the tretton37 family. This is my story, but it could also be yours. Well except for the “2012” part – that ship has sailed.
tretton37 took a risk in hiring me – they had never hired a non-Swedish speaker before, especially one from so far abroad. In turn I took a risk on them – I had never even visited Sweden! What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, the answer to that question is a suitably understated “not much”.
Finding the right employer from the other side of the planet is a tricky business. A mutual friend introduced me to tretton37, and within minutes I was speaking to one of their founders on JabbR. Okay, okay, that part was easy. I’d love to say it was all that simple but of course, tretton37 takes recruitment very seriously.
Through the magic of Skype we organized two interviews; the first was a relaxed chat about tretton37 and Sweden, the merits of pizza vs. salad, and of course a little about myself. A few days later we had the technical interview covering standard .NET questions, code review, and general “shop talk” about our industry. There were no mountains to be moved or manhole covers to be pondered. I appreciated both interviews – relevant questions were asked and even if I was nervous, not once did I feel like the company was trying to find a way to make me slip up and fail the interview.
Since this post is useful for foreigners like myself, I should probably take a moment to answer the question, “Why Sweden?”.
Well, Sweden is a world leader of equality and fairness in society. Universal healthcare and education, gender equality, gay rights, and environmental sustainability are all basic truths of the Swedish society.
Not travelling alone? Your partner and children can migrate with you, and here they can work, study, and participate in the community as they wish.
Starting a family? How do 480 days of paid parental leave sound?
Worried about speaking only English? Swedes are ranked the best in the world for English as a second language.
Competitive salaries, proximity to the rest of Europe, a distinct lack of deadly animals (did I mention I’m Australian?), and long, dark, cold winters – wait, what?
But seriously, I’ve found that Sweden is a pretty nice place to live, even considering the fact that “winter is coming” was a way of life here long before some guy wrote a book about it.
For me, the great attractions of tretton37 were the people and the company culture. My colleagues are passionate, dedicated, diverse and interesting. Starting any technical discussion amongst the programmers invariably leads to a hearty exchange of opinions and approaches. Better still, tretton37 welcomes and encourages our individual ideas. We each have genuine potential to shape the company and make it how we want it to be. It is so refreshing to raise an issue and see it not only discussed, but also fixed, and a real joy to propose an idea and have it excitedly attempted and refined.
At the end of the day, tretton37 is simply an easy company to like. Good people, good management and good core values. We invest back into the community through Leetspeak and the best-catered user group meetings around. We strive to be better and to challenge any tradition. It’s a great feeling to be proud of the company you work for.
If you are interested in being part of the family, here are some links to read about tretton37, Sweden, or the migration process:
On Friday 31st January 2014 we started out with a fairly low level of expectation. It was “low” as in “we’d be happy if we get a pull request together” and there was also a whole stack of legal agreements that needed our attention. Some of the projects required that CLA’s (Contributor License Agreement) were signed for a large variety of “you can’t sue us” reasons. Expectations were also low due to the need for wading through large code bases and attempting to configure weirdly build set-ups, etc., things that may well occur when working on Open Source Software (OSS).
Prior to the day, some of the teams had sorted out some of these CLA’s and some teams even had a look at the source code. One question kept popping to mind; do we even have time to change things for the better?
Well… even with this rather gloomy setup I’d say the hopes were still running high at the Lund office that morning, and I’m pretty sure that the same could’ve been said for the Stockholm office too.
After some breakfast and an introductory briefing we got started working on our projects. Each team was randomly assigned a project to look at and take it for a spin.
My team began by looking at AngularJS and its source code before we started running some tests.
One interesting idea we can take from the Angular project is how it performs its end-to-end (E2E) testing. When we started up the Selenium tests we noticed they were using their own generated API documentation. That’s ingenious!
The great part about that idea is that the project forces itself to keep the API docs alive, as soon as a new feature is created it has to be included to the API docs for E2E testing. For most web application projects, using this approach would keep an generated style guide or a HTML/CSS/JS design document up-to-date as E2E tests are dogfooding it. Afterwards I heard of other OSS projects doing the same thing with their API docs, e.g. the rust language generating code from their own examples.
All was going well, but we encountered some pressing client matters that we had to change gears and look at the knockout-secure-binding project instead. There was a feature missing that was badly needed by one of our team members (we’ll call him Joel, as that’s his name). The feature sought to add support for KnockoutJS’s virtual elements.
After we had written some tests (both a manual one and then an automatic one) and completed a debugging procedure we were able to find out where the missing part of the puzzle was located.
The work all resulted into a Pull Request (PR) that fixed that issue and was accepted through modifications later that night. This, obviously, made us all very happy (and slightly relieved)!
Not all of us in the team have completed open source contributing before, and there was some suspicion concerning just how open and easy it seems to be. Questions such as “when do people get time to do this?” and “why do they bother doing this?” were asked, and these are difficult to answer as it depends totally on the contributor. On Github, creating a PR is pretty easy to do, but it may not necessarily mean that the project maintainers will accept your PR. Having our PR accepted made us accept the process that OSS community is using.
Towards the end of the day, with our 17-ish teams of three man bands, we amassed a whooping 23+ Pull Requests and contributions. Contributions included everything and ranged from typo fixes to new features. That’s amazing considering the expectations we had set in the morning!
We even put these contributions in a fancy floral frame for everyone to look at and admire!
It’s amazing how we all can work together as a company and help out the community. Do you and your company contribute to the Open Source Community? If so, leave a comment below, if not then what are you waiting for?
As developers and as companies we benefit tremendously from what is done within open source projects. We, and every one else profiting from this really owe it to the community to provide something in return – Quid pro quo.
At tretton37 we have Knowledge Sharing Days at our own offices, both in Lund and Stockholm. We have expanded this concept for 2014 and it’s going to be glorious! It also sits well with our ‘Craftsmanship as a Lifestyle’ core value and we all truly enjoy learning new stuff.
We <3 Open Source
But let’s get back to open source – we figure one of the main obstacles against contributing to open source is the lack of time. It’s an inherent property of time that you can’t make more of- you can only allocate it. So why not dedicate one of our brand new Knowledge Days to this purpose? Spoiler alert – that’s just what we will do.
With some work we managed to create an agenda for the day that also squeezes in some learning and knowledge sharing in addition to the contribution part.
This is what we’ll do
In short this is what we will do: we’ll create small groups of three and each group will be assigned an open source project. The ultimate goal of the teams is to contribute something at the end of the day to the project. Contribute may mean anything; fix a bug, implement a requested feature, build a plugin or whatnot. In between, we’ll take some time to figure out how the code works and see what we can learn from it.
We will work with the following projects;
This is the first experiment of this kind that we will do at tretton37 – we’ll let you know how the thing turns out, either here or on the grapevine.
We’ll report on our progress during the day with the hashtag #1337oss.
Keep it OSS!
by Martin Mazur
I find that people are preoccupied with history. Always looking back and referencing the past to make decisions about the future. One important fact to remember is that it is just that – history. What I mean by this is that the events we are reflecting on occurred in a context which is very different from our current situation. The processes we wrote, the work we did, the technology we used has eventually become stale. Everything has a shelf life simply because time moves forward and the context changes.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to learn from our past, especially our past mistakes. You can learn from history and use it to come up with new ideas, not just re-apply the old ones. Even if something had a certain outcome a year ago, the context may be radically different today and that will make the outcome radically different. Basically you have to respect history when creating your future but you shouldn’t obsess about it.
Working like this is a scary idea for most. It’s scary because we are afraid of the unknown, and the future is unknown territory. I think this is one of the reasons we try to project the past onto the future. We try to minimize variations, completely ignoring that we have a huge variable called ‘the world’ which we can’t control.
Here at tretton37 we understand this, and that’s why it’s so important for us to continue questioning and re-evaluating our approach and ideas – not falling into the trap of “That’s how it’s always been”. With this in mind, we explicitly chose “Challenge the World” as one of our core values. By challenging notions of what we can and can’t do, we continue improving and innovating ourselves. It allows us to try new things and uncover new ways of nurturing people, teams, software and business.
I’m not saying that we should question everything all the time. I’m saying that we need to understand the “Why” and “Why not” of the things we do and ideas we have. If either of those reasons change or we don’t agree with them, we have justification in challenging that idea. Since we carefully evaluate the reasons behind our ideas, we feel secure with this type of controlled innovation.
We feel confident in calling our company tretton37 and ourselves ninjas. Because why shouldn’t we? Some may say we don’t take our work seriously but our opinion is that being serious and boring are two separate things. Historically they go hand in hand, but why not separate them? Can’t we have a bit of fun while developing serious software? We take our profession very seriously – we just don’t feel that we have to be boring in order to do so.
It was also quite a leap of faith for us to create a high quality and affordable conference. When we couldn’t see the reason for why there shouldn’t be one, we challenged the notion of the huge, classic conferences. Does it have to be expensive? Can we make it affordable, awesome and high quality? We thought we could and we think that we succeeded.
These are only some examples of how we’ve challenged historical notions in our industry and we are by no means intending to stop.
by Deniz Yildirim
I wrote a post a while ago on “why” expansion has become our strategic choice in the pursuit of Becoming the Most Admired Company.
The more important question remains though: “How” are we going to do it?
Let’s take a look at the key factors that make us stand out in an ocean of a million others:
1. tretton37 is a company of specialists. Our passion for knowledge-sharing, software development, and quality; combined with a fixed focus on a single platform, makes us unique.
2. We also have a powerful company culture that is built on our core values; it is an integral part of our offerings and complements our technical expertise.
These two factors are the source of our pride in tretton37, and the reason we’ve received so much love from our clients and the community. They constitute our core-business.
In such a company as tretton37, expansion runs the risk of threatening the very factors that have made it unique and successful – unless a well-planned strategy and careful execution are in place.
While expanding, we have to live up to our vision and these factors that make us unique. This brings me to our big question – “How”
Our expansion strategy is all about establishing new local offices in different regions with the same services and core values. Expanding up to a moderate, yet still a robust size in each office. A size that enables us not only to have a powerful delivery-capacity to handle local demand; but also to run our knowledge-sharing activities at the highest of standards and with the best results. Up to a size no larger than a magical number where people still know all their colleagues by name.
This way, we get to keep the best of both worlds: Keeping “the small” within “the large” and gaining these benefits:
• We retain all of the advantages of preserving our specialist profile of our local offices by focusing on what’s important to us; the quality of our work and our values.
• At the same time, we have the versatility to reach out to be a larger sized company, comprised of all our offices (inter-)nationally. Creating a greater network of like-hearted developers with a larger accumulated knowledge to share on the very same platform.
• And also a volume, which brings financial benefits that also help us in becoming the most admired company.
How are we going to stick to the plan?
Well, we’re going to let our clients, colleagues and the community be our judge. They will have their eyes on us and keep us on the right track; just as they have been doing since day one!
I’ve given you just a quick glimpse of our expansion strategy in this post. As for the details, they’re best expressed by hundreds of slides and I’m sure you’re not really up for that just right now. :)
Please drop me a line if you are wondering more about how we think!
Hope that you’ve enjoyed this post and thanks for reading.
About this blog
We at tretton37 believe in having a strong company culture that promotes craftsmanship, professionalism and knowledge sharing.
We want to use this blog to share what we know and give everyone insight into our thoughts.
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