Some new tools in our toolbox: Slack, JIRA for sales and marketing processes, Spring Data JPA, Justinmind

In the first days at work after my vacation I got in touch with some new tools and ideas which I want to share

Slack

We were searching for an internal chat solution for my former and current employee since years. Most of the self hosted chat solutions don’t have clients for the smartphone or don’t provide features like syntax highlighting of pasted code. Slack is a hosted chat, the provided free plan suffices our needs.

You might ask why the hell we need an internal chat, so let me explain it:

  • communicate with team members sitting directly at the customer
  • share ideas like images or presentations between the team
  • decrease the sound level in the office
  • don’t interrupt your coworkers so they must leave their “tunnel”

Additional to that we connected our JIRA instance to Slack so we receive issue changes from JIRA inside our project room inside the Slack chat.

JIRA for sales and marketing processes

In mid august a new coworker started in a position for sales and marketing. At this time we did not have decided which tool we want to use for supporting the sales and marketing processes. Our coworker responsible for JIRA administration built a new JIRA project which has different issue types for sales and marketing and maps the real process behind it to a JIRA workflow. The current status is visible on a JIRA Agile Kanban board. A really nice solution.

Spring Data JPA

A few months ago I found Lightadmin which dynamically generates administration web interfaces for Spring Data JPA entities without the need of writing any line of HTML. The project is really awesome: you get a CRUD administration interface for your Spring Data JPA entities with minimal effort.

The problem is that you can not easily customize the interface for the customer because this is not the target of the project. Because of this reason I decided to start a new project which adapts the techniques Lightadmin uses. But instead of generating the interface dynamically at runtime, the interface and backend code will be statically generated by Xtext. After the code generation the artifacts can be customized by our developers.

I am working on the project only for a few days and I am impressed what Spring Data JPA and it’s subprojects offer. I implemented a paginated list view with jQuery Datatables and a search for entities with Predicates / Specifications in five or six hours. Writing all the SQL/JQL code by hand would have kill me.

Justinmind

I am a really bad designer. From a technical point of view I know CSS, HTML and their friends really well  – but putting it together for getting a nice looking and intuitive interface is a race I will never ever win. I was glad when Twitter Bootstrap reached the light.

Whatever: Justinmind is a really nice tool for prototying interfaces. You can choose between different GUI components, bind them to events and fill it with test data. We are still in the phase of evaluating it, but this seems one of the best tools for easy prototyping. For a design-douche like me the tool is a revelation.