I've Joined a Team of Geeks

I do consulting. Over the years, it's been good and fun and allowed me to spend time building Lift and other cool stuff.

Today, I'm launching Brick Alloy, a consultancy focused on delivering cloud systems that drive business success.

Brick Alloy is a small group of very experienced consultants that work spectacularly well together to understand business needs, build/document technology to meet those needs, and deliver a result that enhances business value.

But there's more... a core focus for Brick Alloy is to document what we build, create a culture of open communication, and most importantly transition our projects to in-house teams that can continue to successfully grow the projects for many years to come.

Yes, we've got the best documentation tool in our bag of tools... and the author of Dexy on our team.

Yes, we've got the best server push stuff around, so we can build stellar real-time, single page apps... and a bunch of the Lift committers on our team.

Yes, we will use the technologies that best fit the task including Python, Scala, Clojure, AngularJS, and even Node.js, because it's more important to deliver a successful project than to focus on a given technology. Plus, each Brick Alloy member loves learning new stuff.

Most Importantly, we do stuff the open source way because visibility and open communications leads to the best results.

The Open Source Way

I've learned a ton about software development in the 6 years I've been growing the Lift codebase, community, and committer team.

But the most important insight I've had is that open communications and visibility leads to much better long term results.

This means that features and designs and almost all parts of Lift are discussed in the "light of day" on the mailing list. We discuss and experiment and grow our software through communication and experimentation.

Much of the closed source world works on waterfall scheduling, a priori designs, and top-down mechanics.

What Brick Alloy brings, in addition to the raw technical talent of the team, is the discipline of open communications that we learned in the open source world.

This means that as Brick Alloy transitions the project to the in-house team, we transition good documentation and good practices as well as rock solid, scalable code.

"But... why do this now, David?" you may ask.

The Backstory

A few months back, a client came to me with a spec and said, "we need this built in 6 weeks." Luckily, they had a budget to match their goal.

I banded together with Ana Nelson of Dexy fame, Richard Dallaway author of the Lift Cookbook, Jono Ferguson Richard's long-time consulting partner, and Dave Whittaker a long-time Lift and Squeryl committer.

We quickly worked through a design based mostly on AngularJS with Lift streaming information to/from the browser. And then we built it.

It was one of those experiences where the design reflected the client's goals and the team executed amazingly well. The team spans the globe (San Francisco, New York, London, and Sydney). We handed work off just the right way and made stuff happen the way of fantasy. Sometimes the client would open a ticket at 2am Pacific and it'd be resolved by 10am Pacific.

Given that I'd worked with all the team members, other than Jono, I should have expected smooth and excellent coding and documenting, because that's what the team members had always done. But with this team, fantasy and reality are the same.

But Why?

As a group, we realized that we were each awesome on our own, but truly spectacular as a team. We communicate damn well. And a successful project deserved many encores.

So, we spent a lot of time figuring out what the core values we bring to a client, chose a company name (that had an available domain), and worked with some awesome folks like RedMonk to convert our value into words.

So, we are a team that has stellar members, but is so much more than the sum of our parts. Brick Alloy is a team that can make amazing things happen with cloud technology.

What Kind of Projects?

Brick Alloy is about delivering excellent results while individually and collectively growing and learning. We love pushing boundaries and building excellent stuff. Specifically:

  • Real-time/server push -- We love projects related to pushing stuff from the server to the client... real-time data feeds, multi-user games, streaming results of big data computations.
  • Super excellent reporting -- With Dexy in our bag of tools, we totally groove on building stuff that allows the users to define their analytics/reports and then push the reports to the users (email/pdf, whatever) periodically.
  • Funded start-up that needs an MVP yesterday -- we can turn your funded vision into a product while you're building out your tech team. We'll transition a well designed, excellently documented set of code to the folks you bring on to grow your company.
  • Bringing business logic to business people -- Between the spreadsheet experience I've got (written a bunch of commercial spreadsheets) and the reporting power of Dexy, Brick Alloy can build amazing systems that move business logic from developers to business people.
  • Content Management -- We've got a very Markdown/Git-centric view of Content Management... like Telegram. We can build something that lets your users manage content, better.
  • Scaling at the inflection point -- Brick Alloy team members have helped some of the highest volume social sites scale and design for scalability. We can help you, too.

Team Size & Mechanics

At Brick Alloy, we're going to keep it small. We're about the quality of the team and delivering great results to our clients. We don't want to worry about writing the binder that contains our secret sauce methodology, we want to have an excellent time building great stuff that makes our clients successful.

We want to learn new stuff, so we can keep on top of the latest technology that will benefit our clients. And learning new stuff keeps us out of old ruts.

Don't expect Brick Alloy to grow beyond 20 people. We will not have a sales person. Everybody on the Brick Alloy team will interact with the clients' teams.


If you're interested in chatting about your project and seeing if it's a match for Brick Alloy's strengths, please drop me a note and let's see what we can do together.