Tobias Ahlin: Making Better Design Predictions with Design Bets

One of the main challenges in designing and developing a product is figuring out how to improve it. How do you get from your ideas to your end goal? And how do you know if you’re on the right track to achieving what you want? Design Bets is a product management framework that aims to help you with this, pulling together research on the best ways to make informed, unbiased decisions.

Last year, I saw Tobias Ahlin, the Experience Design Director for Minecraft, give a talk on Design Bets at DiBi 2017. I was so inspired that I ended up using it on a project we are currently running. This year, we invited Tobias to come back to Edinburgh to speak to us at the University.

A recording of the talk is available publicly on the University’s Media Hopper service:

Continue reading “Tobias Ahlin: Making Better Design Predictions with Design Bets”

Using Design Bets to plan change in MyEd

Last year, I was lucky enough to attend the Design It; Build It conference, where I saw Tobias Ahlin give a talk on an idea he called “Design Bets”. (He will also be coming back to the University of Edinburgh to give the same talk in a couple of weeks – check out the info at the end of the post to book.)

Put simply, Design Bets is a framework which allows you to plan changes, and then evaluate the impact of those changes using evidence, not personal belief or bias. It is designed for software products, but could easily be used for any type of change management – e.g. for a business or other organisation. It’s also a great tool which allows you to quickly plan and see possible changes across many areas at once.

I was immediately interested in this concept, because we are currently running a project to improve student experience in MyEd. There are a lot of ways that we could do this, and lots of ideas were being tossed around. It was difficult for the team to keep track of what ideas had been discussed, and to easily understand what those ideas were.

Continue reading “Using Design Bets to plan change in MyEd”

Mark Simpson & Steven Wang: Bitcoin, Crypto Assets and Blockchain

While I understand the concepts behind Bitcoin and blockchain, I’ve never really understood how they actually worked. So, I was pleased when Mark Simpson and Steven Wang from RBS offered to come do a talk for us on the subject. This was our second industry talk of the 2017/8 academic year, the last one being Katie Fenn: Chrome DevTools, Inside Out.

Slides: PowerPoint file (University logins only)

I first met Mark when I saw him speak at Design It; Build It (read more in DiBi 2017 Reflections). I was very interested to learn about some of the innovative work that his team has been doing at RBS. Since then, we’ve been looking for an opportunity to work together, so I’m glad that it finally worked out!

Continue reading “Mark Simpson & Steven Wang: Bitcoin, Crypto Assets and Blockchain”

Katie Fenn: Chrome DevTools, Inside Out

At the end of November, we were lucky enough to have Katie Fenn (http://www.katiefenn.co.uk/) come to the University of Edinburgh to give a talk on “Chrome DevTools, Inside Out”. This kicked off the community’s industry talks for the 2017/8 academic year. Although this talk was some time ago, I’ve only gotten a chance to write it up now…!

Katie has given this talk numerous times, so I’ve included some links to slides and recordings below:

Continue reading “Katie Fenn: Chrome DevTools, Inside Out”

A View from the Prater – IS at DrupalCon Vienna, Day 3

For the past week a group of us from Information Services have been at DrupalCon 2017 in Vienna. We shared our DrupalCon experience on Day 1 and Day 2 of the conference, giving our thoughts on the sessions we attended, recommended top sessions, and our key takeaways.

Thursday was the last day of conference sessions, although for some of us the Drupal work continued with the community code sprint on Friday!

Continue reading “A View from the Prater – IS at DrupalCon Vienna, Day 3”

A View from the Prater – IS at DrupalCon Vienna, Day 2

Enjoying the famous Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna

This week a group of us from Information Services are attending DrupalCon 2017 in Vienna and we are sharing our thoughts on the sessions we attend, recommending top sessions, and giving our key takeaways from our DrupalCon experience. Yesterday I posted our reactions to the first day of DrupalCon, and today we continue our DrupalCon reportage.

For two of our party, Tim Gray and Bruce Darby, this was a very exciting day as they were presenting a session on how we have used code sprints and collaborative development to build a community of users and developers around EdWeb.  More on our first-time DrupalCon Speakers later!

Continue reading “A View from the Prater – IS at DrupalCon Vienna, Day 2”

A View from the Prater – IS at DrupalCon Vienna, Day 1

View of the Prater park in Vienna

As we embark upon our next big adventure, planning for the migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 of EdWeb, the University’s central CMS, a group of us from Information Services are here in Vienna this week attending DrupalCon 2017.  We are a small but diverse bunch of project managers, developers, sysadmins, and support staff who all play a part in building, running and managing EdWeb.  For the next few days we’ll be sharing our thoughts on the sessions we attend, recommending top sessions, and giving our key takeaways – not the wurst variety – from our DrupalCon experience.

On Tuesday, we started DrupalCon the right way by attending the always entertaining Pre-note, followed by Dries Buytaert’s traditional Driesnote keynote presentation on the state of Drupal.  We then set out on our different tracks, paths crossing at coffee and lunch, for the first intense but interesting day of DrupalCon sessions.

Continue reading “A View from the Prater – IS at DrupalCon Vienna, Day 1”

#GasHack – A worthy cause for a weekend of your time!

My brother is a consultant at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and a colleague is trying to attract interest from industry, computing students or anyone with a bit of computing knowledge in a hack day they are running with the College of Anaesthetists in London (details at: http://gashack.rcoa.it)

The idea is modelled around similar events that have been hosted this year like the NHS Hack day or the MIT hackathon.

Doctors with an idea or project come along and pitch it to the meeting. Developers chose the idea that appeals to them and work on it over the Saturday and Sunday.

On the Sunday afternoon, the teams demo their products in front of the rest of the attendees and a panel of judges.  There are prizes to the teams with the most innovative, exciting or world-changing product.

The event is free and run at the Royal College of Anaesthetists in London; 21st and 22nd of October. It’s a nice venue and they’re buying lunch.

For staff working in IT, it is essentially a charity event.  For students, it’s a nice opportunity to work on real life projects and get something on your CV.

All developer skills are welcome. The theme is around peri-operative care but they will consider any ideas. The clinicians are all intensive care and anaesthetic doctors.

If you would like to help or be involved or just want more information, please get in touch with Michael Leggate (NHS Highland) in the first instance (michaelleggate@nhs.net).  He would be very happy to hear from you.

Thanks.
Bill.

Turing Fest 2017 Reflections

A few members of Information Services (and possibly beyond) attended Turing Fest at the start of August. Turing Fest describes itself as “four conferences in one; covering the product, strategy, engineering and marketing strands of technology. Spread over two days these four tracks shared knowledge and discussed topics at the cutting edge of technology with world-class engineers and technologists from a variety of industries.” It was held at the EICC here in Edinburgh.

Let’s hear how they got on and what thoughts they came away with. Continue reading “Turing Fest 2017 Reflections”

Automation within Information Services Applications Team Delivers Efficiency Gains

Recent work within Information Services Applications has realised benefits by significantly reducing the amount of time required to release APIs (code used by developers to innovate and build further tools).

By utilising tools and technologies which partly automate the work involved in rolling out APIs the Development Services teams have managed to reduce the lead time prior to release from around five days to a matter of minutes.  The tools mean that the release process is significantly more straightforward and requires much less setting up and configuration to the point where releasing an API is almost a case of pushing a button.  The automation also ensures that the process is more reliable and less prone to errors.

Furthermore, multiple APIs can be released in parallel meaning that efficiency gains are further increased as more APIs are developed by the University.

The team demonstrated this new capability in a recent deployment of a microservices tool where several existing APIs were redeployed as part of the release.

Further Information on APIs Programme:

There is a need to transform the online experience of students, applicants, alumni, staff and other members of the University community to provide tailored information via personalised digital services.

To deliver these personalised digital services requires a way to plug into information from central systems and use it in new and innovative ways , like new websites, apps for mobile devices and what’s called ‘portlets’ for MyEd that operate like web pages within web pages.

Plugging into the information can be achieved by using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Here at the University we use open source tools for APIs – the type of code you can get from online communities where developers collaborate to make even better products and software.

While API technology has been around for a long time, its use beyond the integration of large, complex business systems has grown rapidly in recent years and with the proliferation of devices and mobile technology, API use in getting data from one place to another – from connecting business systems, to mobile devices and apps – has expanded exponentially.  That’s because APIs allow data to be accessed securely and consistently across multiple devices, a tremendously valuable resource for the University.

The University’s Enterprise APIs Programme (part of Digital Transformation) has been set up to deliver APIs to support projects like the User Centred Portal Pilot, the Service Excellence Programme and other digitalisation and transformation Programmes across the University.  In addition to enhancing central services such as MyEd, APIs will provide a consistent way for software developers across the University to build flexible systems at a lower cost, securely, and consistently across multiple systems.

Further Links:

Digital Transformation Website

API Technology Roadmap