Blog


Dec

The Year 2015: A Summary


I missed my annual recap last year, mostly because I was tired after a very stressful year, but it’s time to pick up the tradition again. Here are some of the highlights from 2015.

Client projects

We had another year of great client collaborations. During the first half of the year we worked on several interesting projects together with Purpose, including a social media monitoring dashboard for the climate change awareness campaign Here Now, the One Second March campaign, and other work for non-profits like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Oxfam. We also helped our friends at Oktavilla with some work on UNICEF.se.

We were also fortunate to work with great companies like Telenor Connexion with their Internet-of-Things (IoT) platform, and Blue Box with their private cloud solution. Both of those projects are continuing next year too.

We continued working with some of our exciting startup clients, like Naturkartan and Pinracer. We also worked with FootballAddicts on our first real Elixir project. We hope to do more Elixir in 2016, so get in touch if you need any Elixir help.

Naturkartan

Towards the end of the year we got into online newspaper design with Mitt i, something we're also hoping to do more of in 2016.

ProjectPuzzle

In between client projects we finally found time to launch a brand new version of our team scheduling SaaS product ProjectPuzzle. We’ve continued to improve it throughout the year, and we have much more planned. For me personally, it is completely indispensable to running the Elabs consulting business. It let’s me see our utilization at a glance, and keep track of who’s working on what project and when. And with the improvements we’re making, pretty soon it will be a full solution to managing a client services business.

ProjectPuzzle

Flip

During Lab Days and downtime between client projects Anders and Robin created our first own iOS app: Flip, a beautiful version of the classic board game Reversi. Flip is free on the App Store, give it a try!

Flip Reversi game

Journeyman tour visit

In June we had a visit from Lennart who spent a week with us as part of his journeyman tour. Lennart is always a vitamin injection, and we really enjoyed having him with us. We finished the week with a Lab Day where we did some Elixir and Phoenix mob programming. Great fun!

Lennart wrote a blog post about his journeyman visit with Elabs, you should read it.

Lennart's visit

Nordic Ruby and True North reunion

After running conferences for 5 years straight we decided to take a break during 2015 to catch our breath a bit. We couldn’t stay away from our regular venue Yasuragi completely though, so in early July we held at Nordic Ruby and True North reunion where we invited past attendees to come hang out with us in the serene Japanese spa in the Stockholm archipelago. To our delight, we had quite a few attendees come from as far away as the US to spend the weekend with us!

Reunion at Yasuragi

While it was nice to take a break and focus on our core business, we really miss organizing a conference. There’s a good chance that we’ll do one in 2016. Follow @elabs on Twitter for updates!

Team changes

The biggest changes this year were that we said goodbye to two of our team members.

Johannes—one of our designers—left in July after 5 great years with us to work on a new product idea he had.

Johannes

Kim, who joined us as a developer 4 years ago, left right before Christmas to move back to Stockholm where his family lives.

Kim

We’ll miss them both and wish them the very best of luck!

It wasn’t all goodbyes though! In November we welcomed Max, our second apprentice. Max has been doing great so far, and we’re excited to have him on the team. He introduced himself here on the blog a few weeks ago.

What’s next?

As I’ve hinted at on Twitter, we have some very exciting things in the works for next year! I won’t give it away quite yet, but you should follow us on Twitter if you want to be among the first to know.

I can’t wait for 2016 to begin!

Happy New Year!

/ CJ

Jan

The Year 2013 — A Summary


Every December, I write a recap of the year that’s gone. I’m a couple of days late this time, but I’d still like to write about some of our highlights from 2013.

Need For Speed™ Network

2013 was dominated by our biggest and most ambitious project yet: Need For Speed™ Network for our new clients Ghost Games and EA. We had pretty much the full team working on this project for most of the year. We’re not completely done with it yet, and we’ll have more to say when we’re finished. In the mean time, check out the promo video for the app.

ProjectPuzzle

Our own product ProjectPuzzle has been left mostly unattended since we launched it in 2012. We had several new customers sign up during 2013 though, and we received lots of great feedback from people who tried it out. We’ve started working on the next version of ProjectPuzzle, and I’m really looking forward to sharing the progress of that with you in the coming months.

Nordic Ruby

The 4th annual Nordic Ruby was the best one yet. It was probably also the last one, in a way. We’re changing things a bit for 2014.

I wrote a blog post about Nordic Ruby 2013 with lots of great photos and video. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Part of the team at Nordic Ruby 2013

Anders T

At the end of November we said goodbye to Anders Törnqvist. Anders was one of the original 4 team members at Elabs, and after 5 great years here he wanted to try switching from consulting to working in a product company. We wish him the best of luck with his new job at PugglePay.

Anders Törnqvist

What’s next?

Right now we’re working hard on finishing the last pieces of the Need For Speed™ Network project, and after that we’re looking for new client projects. If you have something you think we can help with, please get in touch.

Other than client work, we’re also very excited about getting to work on the next versions of ProjectPuzzle and Nordic Ruby.

Here’s to 2014.

/ CJ

Dec

The Year 2012 — A Summary


It's time for the traditional "year in review" post, as I've done for the two previous years (2011 and 2010).

Nordic Ruby

As always, one of the big highlights of the year was Nordic Ruby, our annual Ruby conference here in Sweden. Moving the conference from Gothenburg to a beautiful Japanese style spa in Stockholm was a big hit. I had lots more to say in my post about Nordic Ruby 2012.

Johannes, Anders T, and Jimmy relaxing at Nordic Ruby 2012

New team members

Early this year, we welcomed two new developers to the team: Ivan Navarrete and Anders Carlsson. Ivan had been freelancing with us every now and then since the start of Elabs, and he finally agreed to join us full-time. We knew Anders C (not to be confused with Anders T) from the Ruby and Cocoa user groups, and he's been a great addition to the team.

Right before our summer vacation we also hired Robin Rundkvist, our third designer. He proved himself right away by taking charge of the design of our project for Pernod Ricard.

This brings us to 11 people total. We now have 3 designers and 3 developer pairs, a perfect balance for us.

Open source

We released several new open source projects this year. Two of the most interesting ones are Serenade.js, a JavaScript MVC framework, and Pundit, a Ruby on Rails authorization library. We also spent lots of time improving our old projects. Most notably, Jonas released Capybara 2.0.

Client projects

We've been fortunate to work on some very interesting projects for great clients this year, including Pernod Ricard, LivingSocial, Fujitsu, SEOmoz, Shotbox, and Menyou to name a few. I look forward to telling you more about some of these projects next year.

ProjectPuzzle

In between client projects, we also managed to find some time to finally launch our first product: ProjectPuzzle. We've been using ProjectPuzzle to keep track of our own project scheduling and staffing for a long time, but getting merchant accounts, payment gateways, etc. in order so that we could start selling subscriptions took way too long. I'm very happy that's it's finally released, and I'm excited about our plans for it next year.

What's next?

In addition to continuing working with our existing and new clients, I have three things that I'm personally very excited about working on next year.

Marketing. I've been thinking a lot lately about how we talk about who we are and what we do. We've started working on a new website that will do a much better job of explaining how we help our clients. Sign up for our newsletter, and we'll keep you posted as we work on our progress.

ProjectPuzzle. Now that we have released the first version, it's time to focus on getting more customers for it, and to start steadily improving the product. If you haven't tried ProjectPuzzle yet, you can sign up for a free trial.

Nordic Ruby. This year's Nordic Ruby was definitely the best one yet. Next year's is going to be even better. We'll release a few early tickets in January. Follow @nordicruby on Twitter so you don't miss it.

Happy New Year!

/ CJ & the Elabs team

Dec

The Year 2011 — A Summary


Wow, another year over already. It feels like it was just recently that I wrote a summary of 2010. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, so it's about time that I try to sum up this year. And what a year it's been.

One of the highlights this year, just like last year, was our conference Nordic Ruby. I feel like this year was even better than last year, with amazing speakers such as Chad Fowler and Aaron Patterson, a party on an 18th century style ship, and 150 fantastic attendees. Next year we're trying something quite different, and I think it's going to be awesome. Keep a look out for the new web site for Nordic Ruby 2012.

Aaron Patterson at Nordic Ruby 2011

Aaron Patterson at Nordic Ruby 2011. Photo by Athega.

Right around the same time as Nordic Ruby, we said goodbye to our partners at Edithouse, and moved to our own space. Our new office is in a fantastic 19th century building, the old offices of the famous Gothenburg camera makers Hasselblad. We love our new office, and others seem to like it too, as we made the finals in a competition for Sweden's nicest office. Feel free to come visit us, we love having guests. If you can't make it, check out the pictures of our new office.

Our new office, in the Hasselblad building

We didn't just move out from Edithouse's office, but we also bought back their shares in Elabs. Right now I'm the full owner of the company. The main reason for this was that the collaboration that we envisioned when I started Elabs together with Edithouse never happened. In 2008 and 2009 Edithouse's business changed, and we set our own course. Our own office and ownership reflects our independence, and that feels great. Personally, I still want to say Thank you to Edithouse for helping get Elabs off the ground in 2008.

Another side of our move was that we decided to close down our Stockholm office. While we had some great projects there, for clients like Bonnier's Mag+ and TV4 Play, it was hard having people spread out. One of the best things about Elabs is our culture. Our way of working together, and our camaraderie. Extending that across the country wasn't easy, and it didn't feel fair to Ingemar and Dennis, working by themselves in Stockholm. We asked them if they wanted to join us in Gothenburg, but they decided to stay in Stockholm, and are now working for our clients Mynewsdesk and Mag+. I wish them the best of luck there.

To make up for the loss of Ingemar and Dennis, we've started hiring again! In August, we welcomed Kim Burgestrand to our team. Kim had been freelancing with us while he was on a break from his studies, and we're very happy that he decided to join us full-time. We'll be hiring more developers next year, so if you're interested in joining a fantastic team, let us know!

In 2011, we really ramped up our public speaking. We spoke at a whole bunch of different conferences all over the world. Here's a list, with links to videos of most of them:

Phew! Quite intense! In between working on client projects and speaking at conferences, our developers still found time to release some great open source projects. Nicklas released his Rails account management engine bento, and Anders released the model factory jay_z and the restful HTTP library resto. Kim did a bunch of work on Hallon, his delicious Ruby bindings to the official Spotify API. Jonas released capybara 1.0, an integration testing library used by most Ruby developers. Later in the year, he also released the brand new library turnip, an alternative to Cucumber.

In recognition for his outstanding open source efforts, Jonas received a Ruby Hero Award at RailsConf in May. We're so proud of him!

Jonas Nicklas, one of the Ruby Heroes 2011

During the year we've had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people. We've worked with some great companies in the US (such as Engine Yard, Stackmob, and LivingSocial), as well as some cool Swedish startups (like Naturkartan and Saltside), and some big established companies like TV4 and Bonnier. A big thank you to all of our clients! We're looking forward to more great projects next year.

Yesterday, our last day of work this year, we said goodbye to Antony. Antony's been working with us for almost two years, and he's been a fantastic part of the team. Now he's striking out on his own with a project related to his other big passion, photography, and we wish him the best of luck. Thank you Antony for all your great work, and for keeping our spirits high at the office. We'll miss you!

Now were taking a break over the holidays, and we'll be back on January 2nd, ready for another exciting year.

Happy holidays!

/ CJ & the Elabs team

Merry Christmas from Elabs

PS. If you want to keep up with what we're doing, follow us on Twitter or check out our Facebook page. Thanks!

Dec

The Year 2010 - A Summary


Today is the last day before the Christmas holiday. We’ll be back January the 3rd and share some exciting news with you, but for now; a quick retrospective of a fantastic year!

One of our favourite events of the year was the inaugural Nordic Ruby. We had a great time and it was fantastic to have so many people here. Hopefully we’ll se you all again at Nordic Ruby 2011.

Another big happening was the startup of our Stockholm office where Ingemar and Dennis are located. Hopefully they will get some company next year. Our team in Gothenburg grew as well, with the addition of Johannes and Nicklas at the beginning of 2010 and then Antony as well. This means we have doubled our team from 5 to 10!

In March we had a company trip to Scotland where we focused on our coming products. Serenity will be the first out, a simple scheduling app for project planning. It's currently being beta tested and we're aiming for a launch in the beginning of next year. We’ve also developed our first iPhone app, for one of Sweden biggest banks, SEB. Great fun, and we hope we’ll do more of that during 2011.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Best wishes from

CJ, Lilly, Jonas, Jimmy, Johannes, Antony, Anders and Nicklas in Gothenburg

Ingemar and Dennis in Stockholm

Elabs