Image showing the idea behind Flok: collaborative team work.

Ionospheric Flok jam: our internal design and development research day

08.05.14

All robots working on the same project for an entire day: The rocket’s internal research day was intense but fruitful – and a great experience for the entire crew.

Teamwork at its best

What a day it was! Our ionospheric Flok jam, an internal research day which the entire crew spent working on Flok, our open business tool kit. During an interesting and fun day, we all worked on our latest open source project. Having the entire team working on the same project not only allowed us to improve Flok by a lot, it was also a unique opportunity for working closely together – especially the pair programming and pair designing done was a great experience for everyone.

Flok: a radically open business operation toolkit

Flok is our latest internal endeavour: a tool kit for companies with agile project processes and Open Business workflows. Sticking to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach, we are developing Flok in an iterative process. Flok’s first component is a simple, sleek time tracker. Following a mobile first approach, it works on desktop as well as on mobile devices. What’s available now is only a teaser of what is to come – our Flok jam day was the first step of many to make significant improvements on our tool kit.

A most productive day

Our mission of the day was set early in the morning: After a joint round of brainstorming to gather ideas for new features and enhancements, we determined the scope of the day. Though we wanted to do high level work, we also want to have a result to show at the end of the day. And we do: We improved the interaction design of the application, created a backend for the time component and defined goals for long-term improvements of Flok.

We organised the day in an agile format, splitting up into small teams which worked on specific tasks. Three times we came back together to discuss the results before moving on to another task. We also had a chance to do pair programming and pair designing, which not only ensured error correction, but provided a valuable opportunity of productive team work, with a fruitful exchange of ideas and input.

Design and development – our achievements of the day

From a technical perspective, our main accomplishment of the day was the addition of a backend. While previously, the data could only be stored locally, it can now be stored in a server-side database. This allows users to access and use Flok across various devices. The application now uses the entire MEAN stack, making this the first time that we are using MongoDB and Mongoose.

To improve the interaction design of the application, we compiled multiple personas for the tool to define the different profiles of people who would use the time tracking component. Following a User-Centred Design approach, the crew discussed tracking behaviours and different ways in which time tracking could be tagged as well as the benefits of a grouping function for time trackings.

There is much to come still!

Next to working on short-term improvements, we also structured our ideas for long-term enhancements which will make Flok the performant tool we want it to be. We are developing Flok in a highly agile way, improving it iteratively and continuously. Straight from its beginning Flok has been used by the crew, and we are proud to see it improved after our first research operation of this scope!