Out of the dark

It’s been a silent couple of months. Offbeat Solutions has been heads down programming, debugging, optimizing – and then, finally shipping. Now it’s time to look back.

imageIn TechDays Finland 2011 we finally talked about our latest customer project, the www.valio.fi web site (slides available, in Finnish). In case you’re not from around here, Valio is the Finland’s leading company in dairy products and a consumer brand of legendary caliber.

Since the presentation on 31st March, we then finally made the site live on Saturday 2nd April. If you can read Finnish and like food, go check the site out at www.valio.fi!

What’s inside the box?

Essentially we – including our partners in crime, Valve Branding and Appelsiini Finland – delivered an ASP.NET MVC 3 application with quite a few business system integrations and a SQL Server database. Woohoo – that’s not really the exciting part. But we truly did deliver something that’s not the usual user (or developer) experience, so what’s different?

In my opinion, there are six aspects that differentiate the Valio site and the implementation project from most cases developers get sucked into.

  1. User experience. We use modern browser capabilities to make the user experience smoother, faster and visually more appealing. And we do mean so much more than slapping an UpdatePanel here and there.
  2. Platformness. Our task was to implement not just a web site, but also a platform for many future digital marketing endeavors. For this purpose, we expose a whole lot of APIs – and use them ourself.
  3. Automated testing. Although we are nowhere near full test coverage, our test suite compares favorably with most web projects.
  4. Manageabilility. We provide decent tooling to manage the site, reducing the need to type custom SQL queries. Yeah, we have PowerShell commandlets.
  5. Scale. Valio.fi isn’t huge, but it’s running on a cluster of web nodes. It has all the challenges of being on a cluster, most of which never occur on a single-node web site.
  6. Project methodology. We had imperfect Scrum and all, but we had successful teamwork with almost 20 people involved daily – and with relatively few communication issues.

Coming up: More info

Thanks to the openness of Valio and other involved parties, we enjoy pretty broad liberty to discuss the technical specifics of the project. Offbeat Solutions wishes to use this opportunity to disseminate information and best practices on building modern web sites with ASP.net.

During the coming months, we intend to blog on many of the subjects mentioned above. If you have feedback or want to know something about the project, please do leave a comment!

April 8, 2011 · Jouni Heikniemi · 6 Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: .NET, Web

6 Responses

  1. Perttu Tolvanen - April 8, 2011

    Thank you for sharing.

    Esitän täten myös virallisen kutsun vieraskynäilemään Vierityspalkkiin. Olkaamme yhteydessä jos mahdollisuus kiinnostaa.

  2. Lauri Peltonen - April 9, 2011

    Cool, looking forward to the upcoming posts!

    I find especially interesting your use of Crucible, how did you use it in practice, would every project benefit from using it etc. Maybe you can touch on it if you blog on item 6.? :)

  3. Jouni Heikniemi - April 11, 2011

    Perttu: Tartumme toki tilaisuuteen.

    Lauri: Definitely not one of the aspects I would've expected to interest the audience, but sure – I'll cover our review conventions and use of Crucible at some point. :-)

  4. Kai Virkki - April 11, 2011

    What what what, no cloud stuff? :) Was there any specific reason not to implement this stuff in Azure or AWS?

  5. Jouni Heikniemi - April 12, 2011

    Kai: Fair enough, I was sort of expecting that question at some point. Truth be told: the cloud question was never debated in depth, as the client had just made a decision on their overall hosting strategy. Also, the amount of integation to local systems would have made cloud development a bit less lucrative.

    I have since reflected on the cloud possibility; I'll post my notes on "what if this was in the cloud" later on.

  6. Heikniemi Hardcoded » Valio.fi deep dive #1: Understanding our JavaScript philosophy - April 18, 2011

    […] this first part of my series of postings on the Valio.fi project, I’ll discuss some design aspects of our use of JavaScript. We outlined these principles in the […]

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