Here, in Gorrion, we like to be challenged with problems that some might say are unsolvable. Let’s try Rapid Prototyping and push technology to its limits.
Few of our customers know that we are something more than regular developers. That we like to be challenged with problems some might say are unsolvable. That we like to push technology to its limits just for fun. They often recommend us to friends or business partners. Companies that are stuck with problems no one else wanted to pick up or already failed at doing so. That’s exactly what we have in mind when we say Rapid Prototyping. To make it more clear let me tell you a little story.
I remember the very first project that was like this. The one that helped us to gain the reputation of code magicians that can solve unsolvable problems. Developers who are the last resort for ones failed by their current vendors and left for dead in moments of absolute desperation.
This particular problem was very interesting not only from a technical perspective. It was related to something very popular at the time. It was about 3D printing.
The client had just nine days between the moment he contacted us for the first time and the big event he needed the app for. Why they contacted us so late? I can just wonder that either the idea came to their heads that late or previous developer failed to deliver a working prototype of software on time, and oh boy.. what idea for an app that was.
It might sound simple – visitors of the event can 3d print their own names on the bracelets, on-site, in kind of a real-time. We just needed to create a piece of code that put their names on the bracelet 3d model and send it to the operator. Easy right?
This kind of projects when creations from inside of the computer interacts with real-life objects and lefts it’s footprint in the real world always gives me goosebumps. On one hand, I was excited that we can do it, on the other terrified. There were a lot of things that were uncertain.
Everything could go wrong in this example of Rapid Prototyping. Technical difficulties, inability to find the right solutions for the problem given, the pressure of time. Yeah, that last one was worse. Only nine days, eight if you won’t count the day we negotiated the terms. The information that you’ll be able to print the bracelet was already released in all press materials regarding the event. It was featured as the most interesting attraction there. That was a tough call, but we knew that if we let them down they won’t find help anywhere else.
I’m not the person who like to disappoint others – especially our clients. We decided to do it!
There were a lot of trials to find the right solutions, to compose the application in the way that won’t require from us to write it completely by ourselves, to cope with the pressure of time.
Finally, we’ve come up with a brilliant idea of installing Blender that could work in headless mode and be operated throughout the command line. Our app run it as an external process and therefore got rid of all the problems related to manual manipulation of 3d models. That was it!
The final app was ready on time. Not properly tested (at least not as we’d like it to be), but fully completed was used on the event. Supporting it was a lot of stress as we did a lot of fixes live. Luckily no of the errors had a direct effect on users experience and the whole event was a complete success.
Our customer was so happy that since then we are getting a lot of similar, uncommon problems to solve by their recommendation.
Website that needs to be fixed in few days or the contract will be breached, 3d models that does not like to be rendered properly in web browser but cannot be converted to right format by any software available, software to monitor performance of tailor shop employees delivered in less than a week or one of my favourites – very simple chrome extension that automates drop-shipping process that finally became project of a large web platform that we are already working on.
All those projects were challenges. All of them were also a success. Caused us a lot of stress, sleepless nights with code, but a lot of fun too. In fact, we like the satisfaction they gave that much that we decided to not only do it from time to time. We promoted it to the whole service we offer. We call it Rapid Prototyping, but from now on you’ll know exactly what it means.