The San Digital Stack

San Digital has been designed as a remote first business from inception, on the assumption that it's easier to add offices later if they are necessary in an agile way. To work in collaborative way completely remotely takes a carefully thought out set of tools. Some of the ones that we use are really standard and some are a little more interesting.

The Stack

This list doesn’t deal with the tools that we use for development just the ones that we use to run the business and coordinate our efforts.

Office 365

There are really only two choices here, Microsoft or Google, at the moment Microsoft do seem to have the edge.

One feature of an O365 subscription that people do seem to miss is that it comes with an Azure tenancy and Cloud Active Directory, this is actually a massive bonus as any corporate applications that are deployed into Azure can have Authentication linked to AD from the start with zero effort.

We haven’t gone down the Teams route yet, as a product it’s not quite as good as individual specialists.

Slack

For chat at the moment slack is hard to beat, there’s lots of competition but no one else as nailed it completely yet. This is probably the component of the stack that we keep the closest eye on, Teams is promising but even with its O365 integrations isn’t there yet.

Zoom

It works and at the moment it’s ubiquitous, whether that will continue remains to be seem. Video is well on the road to being a commodity and will most likely end up folded into other products in the same way that telephony has been. Again, there is a prime opportunity for Teams here, but they aren’t quite there yet.

Notion

Imagine the love child of Access and Trello and you get something like Notion, one of our standout discoveries, really good for getting small teams organised with boards and databases. However, the potential for chaos is quite high especially as things start to scale more.

In a similar way to Trello, Notion is brilliant for prototyping ways of working that then get spun out into something more capable. It’s likely that the first targets for this will be around sales as the volume is highest at the front of the funnel and responds well to automation. Long term we will likely adopt Dynamics to manage large number of projects as it integrates really nicely with Xero.

Xero

Remote and paperless doesn’t have to stop with the front office it should absolutely be the case in the back office too. At San we run the back office with as few people as possible to keep the company lean and remove margin for error. Xero lets us work with accountants and HMRC really easily, it also integrates really nicely with the bank.

Starling

In terms of challenging preconceived ideas Starling has been out the standout component of our SaaS stack. From account setup through to day-to-day use starling are leaders in business banking. Probably one of the best onboarding processes we have seen in any app let alone something as complex as banking, integrates nicely with Xero as well. We set up a business account from three locations around the country in the middle of a pandemic in an hour, never thought we'd say that.

Jumping into the FHIR - type systems and objects

We have been doing a deep-dive on FHIR implementations and tooling following our initial FHIR investigation. A critical area of investigation for any system, particularly a large distributed system with many clients and peers that need longevity and guided evolution is its type system. Use of a strict type system can have many benefits - interoperability, governance, data quality, security, performance, developer experience, reduced component complexity and the ability to evolve services with confidence

Integrating with Events

The San Digital team has worked with numerous organisations in both the public and private sectors to transform their applications architecture into a flexible and business-focused model. Working with events at scale is key to maintaining individual teams' agility.

The process of building a mobile app

The team at San Digital has extensive experience developing apps for mobile devices, smartwatches, and smart TVs; using native and hybrid technologies (and everything in-between!) including using Rust for complex comms.

Low friction development environments

While setting up a sample project from an unnamed large vendor the other week I was disappointed by having to read large amounts of documentation and run various bits of script to install dependencies and set up infrastructure. We live in a world that has tools old (Make) and new (Docker) that can be combined to make onboarding engineers low or zero friction.

Cloud-native FHIR platforms

Continuing our series of posts on web protocols, we have been investigating more specialist protocols, in this case, "FHIR". We have produced a document based on our research, investigations and experience.

Team Structures

Multiple team structures can work to deliver software projects. There is no real one size fits all, however, there are common components that can be seen across different structures. At San Digital we believe that Engineer-led teams deliver great results for short duration high-impact projects.

Rules of the Road

This is called rules of the road but they aren't rules they're more guidelines, so they're rules until there is a good reason to ignore them.

Estimating and delivering defined outcomes

Recently there has been a shift away from time and materials projects towards defined outcomes, driven by various legislative changes, specifically IR35, but also cost control in the procurement function of larger organisations.

The San Digital Stack

San Digital has been designed as a remote first business from inception, on the assumption that it's easier to add offices later if they are necessary in an agile way. To work in collaborative way completely remotely takes a carefully thought out set of tools. Some of the ones that we use are really standard and some are a little more interesting.

Test driven design, or planning driven development

Design processes in most business software development resemble peer review or crowd-sourcing. A putative design is presented to peers, who will do their best to find problems while the originator of the design defends it against these challenges. Ideally, where they are demonstrated incorrect or incomplete the process will iterate and an updated design produced and defended.

A human view of computer vision at scale

Computers analysing and acting on what they see is not science fiction or even a new concept, it has been a reality of humankind's drive towards hyper-efficiency since around the time I was born.

Building scalable frontends

Scaling frontends is hard, actually scaling all codebases is hard, frontends just happen to be particularly visible and have a tighter feedback loop and a higher rate of change. As with all codebases, it is in principle possible to scale development through standards and integration processes, but these are a poor substitute for communication. Once development moves beyond the scope of a single team, either progress slows to take into account of different processes or implementations drift away from each other over time. Teams need to find a way to operate independently towards a goal.

Cross platform native mobile development with Rust

San Digital have extensive experience of mobile development and the use of Android as an embedded operating system. We treated android as a deployment target target for Rust firmware as well as writing our intricate real time communications component for both iOS and Android. This approach has advantages, you can maintain a single code base for a complicated communications layer, while also taking advantage of the full native capabilities of each platform

The evolution of web service protocols pt 2

At San Digital, some of us have been building things for people since the dawn of the web. Our historical perspective helps inform us about technological culture and trends today, almost compensating for the creaking knees.

The evolution of web service protocols pt 1

At San Digital, some of us have been building things for people since the dawn of the web. Our historical perspective helps inform us about technological culture and trends today, almost compensating for the creaking knees.