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Archive for April, 2013

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Denis Ivanov

Posted on April 25, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

On Tuesday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Ryan Bigg who will be talking about open source war stories at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Denis Ivanov. Denis is a Lead Developer at Downshift Labs and will be speaking at SpreeConf about how to perfect your e-commerce front end.

Denis Ivanov

Denis Ivanov

Lead Developer at Downshift Labs
Denis is a software developer who has been professionally working with Ruby on with Rails since version 1.2.2 back in 2006. During his SpreeConf talk, Denis will share his experience perfecting the front end of a unique e-commerce store that began over 3 years ago as a Spree 0.11.X project and is growing faster than ever. The store has 97,000 SKUs, receives over 40% of its traffic from organic search hits and is currently serving over 1.5 million public-facing page views each month. Denis will share practical code samples and tips on how to please both robots and humans including: search engine optimization, client side performance (and some backend, too), and conversion rate management

Getting to Know Denis

We asked Denis to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the Ruby on Rails space and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

I’m very excited about the state of coder education at the moment. The industry sees the problems it has and is eager to generate solutions. Between DevBootCamp and AppAcademy here in San Francisco, we get a good amount of interesting applicants for entry level positions!

However, I’m even more excited for free workshops like RailsBridge and RailsGirls. I’m a fan of both so naturally I come out and try to instruct at as many of these as possible. These particular groups have a focus of closing the disproportionate male-to-female gap in our field.

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

There are a few Spree extensions that you might want to keep an eye on if you’re running a large Spree store. Our store didn’t get to 100K SKUs by manually entering the data through the CRUD interface. We make heavy use of an extension for Spree that uses various spreadsheets to update records en masse, called spree_batch_products).

What are you most looking forward to at SpreeConf this year?

Learning from others’ experience running large stores and keeping an acute ear for clever solutions to universal e-commerce problems. But in general, it is always a good time with the Spree team.

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

I want SpreeConf attendees to remember that as an industry we’re very focused on the back end performance because that is what is easy to instrument correctly, however, by far the slowest part of any webapp is the front end. I want to give them a high level understanding of the problems leading to this as well as a practical boilerplate/best practices approach to begin battling these effects in their projects.

I want my talk to be very actionable. First, I will convince people they should spend time on this. Second, I will tell them how to begin.

Do you have any interesting picks – blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

Check out AngularJS. Very exciting stuff!

Come meet Denis and hear his talk about perfecting your e-commerce front end at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. get your ticket now. Less than one month to go!

Introducing Split Shipments

Posted on April 24, 2013 by John Dyer

We’ve been grappling with the issue of complex Spree stores that require sophisticated shipping and warehouse logic for several years now. While it has always been manageable to get this to work on individual store basis, a more general solution that would be useful for all stores has always eluded us (until now). We are proud to introduce the new split shipments functionality to Spree! This feature is available to try out on the master branch of Spree and will be included in the upcoming Spree 2.0 release. Sean Schofield, the creator of Spree, will go into depth about the new features included in Spree 2.0 including split shipments, the re-architecture of the Spree core and internationalization improvements at SpreeConf May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC.

This post will give you a brief overview of split shipments and what features it provides. For more detailed information, please view the developer documentation.

The Components of Split Shipments

There are 3 main components that make up split shipments described in this post: Stock Locations, Stock Items, and Stock Movements.

Stock Locations

Stock locations are the locations where your inventory is shipped from. Each stock location can have many stock items. When creating a new stock location, stock items for that location are automatically created for each variant in your store.

Having multiple stock locations allows for more robust shipping options. For example, if an item in an order is out of stock at the location of the other items in a order, a new shipment may be created if that item is found to be in stock at another location.

You are also able to create and manage orders that have items from multiple locations by using the improved admin interface.

Stock Items

Stock Items represent the inventory at a stock location for a specific variant. Stock item count on hand can be increased or decreased by creating stock movements. Because these are created automatically for each location you create, there is no need to manually manage these.

Stock Movements

Stock movements allow you to manage the inventory of a stock item for a stock location. Stock movements are created in the admin interface by first navigating to the product you want to manage. Then, follow the Stock Management link in the sidebar.

As shown in the image above, you can increase or decrease the count on hand available for a variant at a stock location. To increase the count on hand, make a stock movement with a positive quantity. To decrease the count on hand, make a stock movement with a negative quantity. Note that it is also possible to transfer stock directly between two stock locations. This can be done from the stock locations admin page. (Configuration → Stock Locations)

Give It A Try

To try the new Split Shipments features before we officially release Spree 2.0, add the following line to your Gemfile and “bundle install”:

Gemfile

  gem 'spree', :github => 'spree/spree', :branch => 'master'

Summary

If you own a store that has multiple locations, advanced inventory tracking needs or just like trying out new features, you should definitely check out the recent changes to Spree. As always, pull request are more than welcome! We’re always looking to improve Spree, so if you have feedback for us on these new feature, please try to get it to us quickly so we can make sure it’s included before the official release.

To learn more about our shipping improvements, what’s included in Spree 2.0 and how you can implement these features on your store be sure to attend SpreeConf. SpreeConf is a great opportunity to meet the Spree core team and to compare notes with other Spree Developers about projects you are working on. And, SpreeConf isn’t just for developers. Plenty of founders and store owners come to our conferences as well. Whether you’re a startup or an established online business, there will be other business owners for you to network with and learn from.

Networking Opportunities at SpreeConf DC

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the SpreeConf schedule to allow you to connect with the Spree community and build lasting relationships to improve and grow your business. You’ll have a chance to meet face-to-face with the creators of Spree, Sean Schofield and Brian Quinn, to learn more about Spree 2.0 and discuss and debate the future direction of the Spree platform. SpreeConf is also a great opportunity to compare notes with other Spree Developers about projects you are working on and implementation techniques. And of course, SpreeConf isn’t just for developers. We have plenty of founders and store owners that come to our conferences as well. Whether you’re a startup or an established online business, there will be other business owners for you to network with and learn from. There’s something for everyone at SpreeConf.

Check out our full lineup of social events.

Inaugural Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala – Sunday, May 19th

We’d like to welcome those of you arriving Sunday evening to our Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala. Brian Quinn and Chris Mar are your Game Night hosts and are committed to delivering an evening of unforgettable fun and intense competition. They’re turning in their consoles and are returning to their gaming roots with some old school board games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. The evening will include lots of board gaming fun with plenty of beverages and snacks and an opportunity to meet your fellow conference attendees and the Spree team before the serious tech talking starts on Monday.

Lightning Talks – Monday, May 20th

At the end of our first day of presentations all SpreeConf attendees are invited to join us for a few cocktails and a series of five minute lightning talks on the subject of your choice. This is an opportunity to publicly share interesting projects you are working on as well as to suggest your ideas for the future direction of the Spree project. We’ll begin taking lightning talk registrations two weeks before SpreeConf starts.

Happy Hour – Monday, May 20th

Enjoy a few happy hour drinks with your fellow attendees courtesy of Braintree. Share what you learned during the training day and find out what interesting projects your colleagues are working on. Get a chance to check out Policy, one of DC’s hottest restaurant and lounges located in the vibrant U Street neighborhood. Join the SpreeConf Turntable.fm room and help us DJ the evening with some of your favorite tunes.

After Party – Tuesday, May 21st

Join us after the conference for a few hours of drinking and lively debate courtesy of Rails Dog. The Spree team will be in attendance along with most of our speakers. The after party will take place on the rooftop of Lost Society, a boutique restaurant and lounge located in the U Street corridor. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Lost Society has a great view of the Washington, DC skyline.

There’s less than a month until SpreeConf and tickets are selling fast. Get your ticket now before we sell out. See you there!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Ryan Bigg

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Adil Wali who will be talking about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our own, Ryan Bigg. Ryan is the Community Manager at Spree Commerce and will be speaking at SpreeConf about open source war stories.

Ryan Bigg

Ryan Bigg

Community Manager at Spree Commerce
Ryan is a Ruby and Rails technical writer based in Australia. He co-authored the book Rails 3 in Action with Yehuda Katz. He was granted the Ruby Hero award recognizing his documentation for Rails. Ryan joined the Spree team in 2011 as Community Manager. His job is to make your life with Spree an amazing experience by triaging issues, replying to user questions, and contributing to the Spree project. He enjoys writing (text + code) more than most people would deem normal.

Open Source War Stories

At the end of 2011, Ryan switched from being a Ruby consultant to being one of the lead maintainers of the Spree Commerce open source project. During that time, he learned an awful lot about what it means to be responsible for something as massive as the Spree project. Refactoring the code without causing tears for loyal users has been an extremely challenging problem to have.

He has some rather interesting stories to tell, like the time he renamed most of the files deliberately on purpose, or that time he ripped out a component that people depended on, and everyone was still happy. There have even been instances where code has been moved out of the models and into new classes, which seems to be the cool thing to do.

Getting to Know Ryan

We asked Ryan to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the Ruby on Rails space and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The most exciting trends to me right now are more JavaScript heavy apps that use frameworks like Backbone, Angular and Ember. There’s still quite a lot of change going on in this area. It’s in a constant state of improvement. I think having a JavaScript-based frontend on Spree would be a step in the right direction, showing off what Spree’s API can do.

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

There’s this e-commerce platform I’m working on right now called Spree ;) …

Besides that, I’m working on my Multitenancy with Rails book and keeping Sharon (my girlfriend) happy. Oh, and sleep. Sleep is highly recommended.

What are you most looking forward to at SpreeConf this year?

It’s SpreeConf. What isn’t there to look forward to? Amazing talks by amazing people at an amazing location. DC will be nice during the Spring, too.

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

Maintaining a project as large as Spree and having it be open source is a huge undertaking. We deal with the incoming posts and issues for Spree in very smart ways, and I’ll go through some of those in my talk.

Do you have any interesting picks – blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

I don’t read blogs as Twitter is my main source of information. If there’s a good blog post out there, it’ll be on Twitter.

Regarding books: While I haven’t read it yet, I hear good things about Sandi Metz’s Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby book. Like, really good things about that book. She’s speaking at SpreeConf, so while I’m semi-obligated to cross-promote her, I honestly think that this book is good.

Another one that’s been doing the rounds is Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler, which covers some great patterns (Data repository, Active Record, Data Mapper).

Technology + company wise: Tesla, Deep Space Industries and SpaceX. These guys are the future. Look at all the cool stuff they’re doing.

Come meet Ryan and hear his talk about open source war stories at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. get your ticket now. Less than one month to go!

Rails Dog Announced as SpreeConf Sponsor

Posted on April 22, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We’re delighted to announce that RailsDog, which specializes in Ruby on Rails web development, Spree e-commerce development, and UI/UX design, will be sponsoring the SpreeConf after party. SpreeConf is a two-day event taking place May 20th – 21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC and features training on Spree as well as presentations from thought leaders in the e-commerce and Ruby communities including Sandi Metz, Adil Wali, and Eric Koester. The Rails Dog sponsored after party takes place the second evening of the conference on May 21st on the rooftop bar of Lost Society. The Spree and Rails Dog teams will be in attendance as well as most of our speakers.

Get To Know Your Fellow SpreeConf Attendees

SpreeConf is a great opportunity to get to know the Spree core team and to meet your fellow Spree community members. This year’s SpreeConf attendee list includes folks from all areas of our community – developers, marketing managers, design agencies, store owners, founders, and investors. We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the schedule so you’ll have a chance to meet each other, have some fun, and chat further about your Spree projects.

Conference tickets are selling fast so make sure to secure your spot at SpreeConf DC before we’re sold out.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Adil Wali

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Gregor MacDougall who will be talking about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to our keynote speaker, Adil Wali. Adil is the CEO at Kemists and will be speaking at SpreeConf about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses.

Adil Wali

Adil Wali

CEO at Kemists
Adil is a passionate entrepreneur and product visionary who loves the startup and high growth environment. He first connected with Spree through Crowd Interactive, a web 2.0 development company he founded that specializes in Ruby on Rails. Adil gets bored easily and likes to have fun, so he starts companies. He’s never had a ‘real job.’ He’s been a founder or investor in a bunch of stuff that’s failed. The stuff that hasn’t: ClearGears, ModCloth, Crowd Interactive, and Kemists where he is currently CEO. Some of you might remember Adil from SpreeConf Dublin. Adil was one of our most popular speakers and we are really excited to have him back at SpreeConf this year in DC.

Lessons from the Field: Scaling an eCommerce Business

eCommerce is one of the hottest and highest-growth spaces driving the world economy right now and while most companies attempting this space have quality products and a solid target customer, many of them will fail because they cannot execute quickly enough to beat their competition.

At SpreeConf, Adil will discuss lessons he learned scaling multiple e-commerce business, including ModCloth, one of the fastest growing companies in the world of fashion. The topics covered will be driven significantly by the audience, with the goal of providing tangible-lessons-learned with real ideas that you can try tomorrow whether you are on the technical side or business side of things.

Some of the topics Adil will cover include:

  • Data: why it’s important and how it breaks
  • Building and scaling a brand
  • Community, authenticity, and how to scale without losing your voice
  • Curation, product-mix, and how to not bore your customers
  • Premature scaling and how to avoid it
  • Scaling teams: ensuring structure and decision-making still work
  • Process: how to keep it minimalistic, but functional
  • Content strategy: taking SEO, SEM, and content seriously
  • Capital strategy: when and why money is important (and when it’s not)
  • Fulfillment and customer service: does it REALLY matter?

Getting to Know Adil

We asked Adil to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the e-commerce space and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

Marketplaces of all shapes and sizes have come a long way since the early days of eBay. I think the future of e-commerce is being defined by some of the innovators in marketplace experiences. In particular, the use of location-based commerce and latent-inventory models is super interesting.

I think ‘the way we work’ is changing. The distribution of teams is no longer a setback, and for some pioneers, it is a distinct advantage. Furthermore, collaboration technology and global bandwidth have come a long way. This is changing the landscape of company creation and growth, not to mention fighting worldwide poverty in a serious way.

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

Yes! We’ve been thinking a lot about ‘the future of work’ and have been heads-down working on a way for worldwide freelancing to be merit-based and frictionless. That project is called Hiiro (pronounced ‘Hero’). It’s currently in private alpha, but we hope to release it just as soon as we feel like we’ve nailed the user experience.

What are you most looking forward to at SpreeConf this year?

I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and I’ve found the overall level of talent and scrappiness to be the highest among the SpreeConf crowd. That’s not to mention that the Spree platform has come a very long way in the last 24 months, and there are still a lot of new things for me to learn from the great tech talks.

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

I hope that folks will remember at least one interesting ‘company-building’ pattern that they can go home and USE within 60 days.

Do you have any interesting picks – blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

I know it’s a classic and that most people have read it, but Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the kind of book you need read once every couple years. I also think that Free Agent Nation by Daniel Pink deserves a lot more attention, even though it was one of his earlier works.

There are tons of new companies that are worth looking at: TaskRabbit and SilverCar are some of the folks that are really innovating with marketplace technology. Blank-Label is probably my favorite supply chain innovator right now.

Come meet Adil and hear his talk about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st.

Top Five Reasons to Come Back to SpreeConf

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

If you’ve attended SpreeConf before you know what a great experience it is. We want to make sure that you don’t miss out on the great lineup of speakers and events we have planned for the conference this year. As a thanks for your ongoing support, we’re offering past attendees a special discount off the regular SpreeConf ticket price. Email lynne at spreecommerce.com for the discount code.

#1 Learn About Spree 2.0

The Spree 2.0 release is just a few weeks away. SpreeConf offers the opportunity to talk with the Spree core team in person about how you can take advantage of the new Spree 2.0 features including: split shipments, the re-architecture of the Spree core, and internationalization improvements.

#2 Get Testing Advice from Sandi Metz

Tests are supposed to save us money. How is it, then, that many times they become millstones around our necks, gradually morphing into fragile, breakable things that raise the cost of change? Many times we write too many tests and we test the wrong kind of things. Sandi Metz’s SpreeConf talk will offer simple, practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it.

#3 Put Rails 4 into Action

Rails 4 brings a bunch of really cool, new features including: Multithreading and ActionController::Live combine to provide clients with Server-Sent Events for real-time activity feeds. Turbolinks has blasted application performance way beyond what we’re used to seeing. And, changes to how rails applications cache information has made caching simpler and easier to use.Nick Gauthier will show some of the ways he’s used the new Rails 4 features to build applications efficiently with the latest web technology.

#4 Get Lessons from the Field

eCommerce is one of the hottest and highest-growth spaces driving the world economy right now and while most companies attempting this space have quality products and a solid target customer, many of them will fail because they cannot execute quickly enough to beat their competition. Adil Wali will cover lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce business, including ModCloth, one of the fastest growing companies in the world of fashion. Denis Ivanov will also offer advice about how to perfect your e-commerce frontend through SEO techniques and conversion rate management.

#5 Find New Clients and Developers

SpreeConf is a great place to meet store owners looking for help with their Spree stores. It’s also a great place to find developers to join your team. We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the SpreeConf schedule so you can discuss future Spree projects together.

There are less than five weeks until SpreeConf and tickets are selling fast. Make sure to secure your spot at SpreeConf DC before we’re sold out.

Get to Know the Creators of Spree

Posted on April 17, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

It’s a really exciting time for Spree. We are now one of the top open source projects in the world. We have 3,835 Github watchers and 372 GitHub contributors who have made more than 9,000 contributions. SpreeConf is your chance to meet the creators of Spree, Sean Schofield and Brian Quinn, and to hear their plans for the future direction of the project first hand. Sean and Brian will share in depth details about the Spree roadmap and the new features included in Spree 2.0. Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Sean, Brian, and the rest of the Spree team in person at SpreeConf, May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC.

How it all Began

Most of you probably know that Sean Schofield and Brian Quinn are the co-founders of Spree. But what you might not know is how the Spree open source project started and how Sean and Brian met. Sean created the Spree open source project in July 2007 after trying several open source alternatives and finding they lacked the flexibility to build exactly what store owners wanted. Brian discovered Spree when he was searching for an open source, Rails based e-commerce solution for one of his client projects. Brian contributed several internationalization features to Spree and in the process got to know Sean. They began working on client projects together and agreed to start an e-commerce consultancy company which eventually turned into Spree Commerce Inc. Since then Sean and Brian have worked diligently to improve the Spree platform and grow the Spree community.

Sean Schofield

Sean Schofield
Sean is the co-founder and CEO of Spree Commerce. He is an experienced programmer and entrepreneur and has over a decade of experience working with open source in both Ruby and Java. Sean is also a member of the Apache Software Foundation as well as a committer on several popular Apache projects including Struts. Sean dedicates his time to the Spree open source project and ensuring that it lives up to his vision of being the most flexible, open source e-commerce platform in the world. At SpreeConf, Sean will share details about the new features included in Spree 2.0 including split shipments, the re-architecture of the Spree core and internationalization improvements.

Brian Quinn

Brian QuinnBrian is the co-founder and CTO of Spree Commerce. He has been using Ruby for fun and profit for several years now (before Rails 1.0.) He is also the author of the innovative Deface project. He enjoys tackling hard problems, learning new things, and building awesome software. At SpreeConf, Brian will introduce the Spree Integrator, a project our team has been quietly working on the last six months which enables stores to integrate with all the internal “stuff” that companies need to run their stores like drop shipping, accounting, analytics, warehousing, etc. Brian’s Spree talk will include a live programming exercise that everyone can join in on.

See You at SpreeConf!

Here are a few closing words from Sean about why he is excited for Spree Conf…“Conferences are all about connecting with people. We have a great online community but sometimes there is no substitute for meeting in person. There are people I’ve been working with from all over the world for several years now. It’s always fun to see them in person. Each year there are also new people in the online community that show up for the in-person conference. It’s great to meet the people behind the code.”

Don’t miss out on your chance to meet the creators of Spree and to connect with the Spree community. Tickets are selling fast. Less than 5 weeks to go!

New Documentation Site

Posted on April 15, 2013 by Andrew Hooker

Why new guides?

A while back, we put a lot of work into creating documentation for our API independent of the developer guides. Our designer Alexey (aka devilcoders) did a great job on the API guides, and we wanted to bring that great work into the developer guides as well. We also used this as an opportunity to go through the guides and clean out things that were confusing or out of date. To top it off, John Dyer ( LBRapid ) put together a few new tutorials, going step by step through getting started with Spree and using and creating extensions and deface overrides.

Starting with Edge

Currently, the new guides are available on Edge. Edge is our repository for documentation about Spree features that haven’t been released yet. Once the next major Spree version is released, the guides in the Edge repository will replace the current guides. We will continue to make the old guides available as we have in the past with our legacy guides. The Edge guides include documentation on the new Split Shipments functionality included in Spree 2.0. Make sure to give this section a read and let us know what you think about the new feature.

Preview the Spree Integrator

You’ll notice we included a section in the Guides called The Spree Integrator. The Spree Integrator is a project our team has been quietly working on the last six months and is the pillar of our new Spree Professional packages. The Spree Integrator is a new platform for extending the reach of your Spree store into a myriad of crucial business applications and services like drop shipping providers, accounting systems, transactional email services, custom applications and much more. Brian Quinn will explain more about the Spree Integrator at SpreeConf and will show how easily you can get started using the off-the-shelf services that we’ve built into the Spree Integrator and how you can create custom endpoints to process all the events as they happen in your store.

A Community Effort

While the Spree core team and staff did a lot of the work getting the guides converted, there were a number of community members who also contributed. We had 229 commits by 29 authors, including 14 commits by first time open source contributor Dana Jones. You can see all the contributions in a github compare

Contributions Welcome

We couldn’t do it without you! Especially if you’re new to Spree, or new to contributing to open source, the guides are a great place to get started. There’s constantly cleanup and improvement to be done. To contribute, simply follow the instructions here.

Watch for More

There’s more coming! We’re going to be looking at improving the developer guides in the future, as well as adding a guide section for users, covering things like how to use the admin interface. If you’ve got ideas for how we can continue to improve the guides, submit a pull request, leave a comment on this post, or open an issue on the repo.

Come Meet us at SpreeConf

The next SpreeConf is taking place May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. SpreeConf is a great opportunity to learn more about what’s coming in Spree 2.0 and how to apply it to your store. We also have a great lineup of speakers from both the e-commerce and Ruby communities. Don’t miss your chance to meet the Spree core team in person and to connect with the rest of the Spree Community. Get $75 off with code “GUIDES” when registering at the link below.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Sandi Metz

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Tuesday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Gregor MacDougall who will be speaking about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to the Spree platform at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandi Metz. Sandi is a software architect, programmer, and author and will be speaking at SpreeConf about practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it.

Sandi Metz

Sandi Metz

Software Architect, Programmer, and Author
Sandi was a long-time software architect at Duke University, for whom she still consults. She has been solving real problems in large, long-lived object-oriented applications for more than twenty years. She is also the author of the book Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby: An Agile Primer.

Practical Guidelines for Testing

Tests are supposed to save us money. How is it, then, that many times they become millstones around our necks, gradually morphing into fragile, breakable things that raise the cost of change? We write too many tests and we test the wrong kinds of things. Sandi’s SpreeConf talk will strip away the veil and offer simple, practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it. Finding the right testing balance isn’t magic, it’s a magic trick; learn the secret of writing stable tests that protect your application at the lowest possible cost.

Getting to Know Sandi

We asked Sandi to give us her thoughts on the latest happenings in the Ruby space and some of the interesting projects she’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

I’m excited about the increasing interest of the Ruby/Rails community in object-oriented design (OOD). OOD is both a passion and a bias of mine, and I see a lot of applications that have grown to where they can reap its benefits. We’re in the midst of a massive integration where the ideas of the masters of OOD are being stirred in a pot with the needs of programmers to get real product out the door; we’ll all benefit from what comes from this mix.

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

I’ve agreed to create a video series for Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby. I’m currently at the ‘watching video creation tutorials’ stage so it will be a few months before they appear, but I’m learning something new and pondering object-oriented design. This is a treat for me and with luck, will be useful for others.

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

I hope that SpreeConf attendees walk away with an understanding that testing is easy. And, experts are no different than you—they just know a few more tricks.

Do you have any interesting picks – blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

I’m intrigued by the Go language but haven’t found time to more than be interested. I’m reading Thinking Fast and Slow, which outlines how we think and is, well, thought provoking. I’ve also been enjoying Implementing Domain Driving Design, an informative and approachable exposition of DDD.

Come meet Sandi and hear her talk about practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st.

Free Stickers Courtesy of Sticker Mule!

Posted on April 10, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We are really excited to announce FREE custom stickers courtesy of Sticker Mule for all SpreeConf registrants who sign up and submit their artwork by April 26th. Sticker Mule is a long time Spree user and big supporter of the design community. They help thousands of people, startups, bloggers, artists and companies order awesome custom stickers that are printed beautifully and ship fast. Check out some of their amazing designs in their online gallery.

As part of the free custom sticker giveaway Spree is also offering a $75 discount to attend SpreeConf. Just enter promo code “STICKERMULE” when registering at spreeconf.com. The two-day conference takes place May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC and includes a full day of training on Spree and Ruby on Rails and presentations from e-commerce and Ruby experts including Sandi Metz, Adil Wali, and Eric Koester.

Once you have registered for SpreeConf you can take advantage of the free custom sticker offer by emailing your artwork to lynne@spreecommerce.com. Please provide either vector artwork (.ai / .eps) or the highest resolution bitmapped image (.jpg, .png, .psd) you have available.

SpreeConf DC Speaker: Gregor MacDougall

Posted on April 09, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Peter Berkenbosch who will be discussing how to thoroughly test your Spree store at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Gregor MacDougall. Gregor is a Senior Software Developer at FreeRunnning Technologies and will be speaking at SpreeConf with his colleague Clarke Brundson about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree. Learn more about Clarke in a future blog post.

Gregor MacDougall

Gregor MacDougall

Senior Software Developer
FreeRunning Technologies

Gregor is a software developer with over 15 years of experience. He focuses on a large variety of web applications built on top of open source software using agile methodologies. Gregor’s SpreeConf talk will discuss how he and his colleagues at FreeRunning Technologies took a large, custom built, error prone, unmaintainable PHP ecommerce platform, and made a gradual transition to the Spree cart, checkout process and models. He’ll explain how they avoided a single, large switchover date, opting instead for a series of small incremental improvements leading towards the end goal. You’ll learn how these techniques can be applied to your own e-commerce migration projects in order to help you make a similar smooth transition.

Getting to Know Gregor

We asked Gregor to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the Ruby space and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

I’m excited by the improvements being made in software craftsmanship, specifically, writing less code, better code, and more reliable code. I support the effort being made to continually improve the way that we write code through both changes to our processes and our tools. I’m proud of the fact that I write better code today than I did in the past, and you should be too!

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

I’ve been working on a lot of Spree related projects lately, including some extensions that others might find useful:

  • spree-license-key – Automatically sends out a software license key to a user once their payment is captured, so that they can activate the software.
  • spree-multi-domain – Enables users to run multiple spree sites off of a single instance. I’ve been focused on improvements to currency selection, shipping methods, and the payment methods are available for a specific store
  • spree-custom-store-email – Allows for customized e-mails to be sent for a specific store (from spree-multi-domain). We’ll be working on something similar for product specific e-mails in the near future.
  • spree-pre-order – Provides the ability to create multiple payments for a single shipment. The first is a deposit which is automatically captured on purchase and the second is a payment to complete the order once the item is ready to ship. It’s tied to a specific payment processor right now, but we’re looking to improve that in the future as well.

What are you most looking forward to at SpreeConf this year?

I’m most looking forward to meeting the members of the Spree core team, and talking with them about the future direction of the project. We have a few different projects using Spree, including a very large project which will support 60+ stores moving forward. We have a small wishlist of things which would be helpful to include in the core Spree application for a store this size. We also have ideas for improvements to the extension system. I’m also looking forward to meeting other developers maintaining large stores to talk about styling sites, customizing Spree, and the business side of things. Continual improvement isn’t just something we apply to our code!

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

I want SpreeConf attendees to remember that you can make large changes in large projects by doing things in small steps. It can be difficult to make that choice since initially it may seem easier to bite the bullet and do everything at once. However, an unfortunate situation often arises.

You have the old system (which is technically awful, but responsible for making money), and the new system (which is technically good, but running only for developers). The new system doesn’t support all of the features for the old system, so you can’t roll out the new system to everyone. A money making opportunity arises, that requires features only supported by the old system, and some new custom functionality. The company decides that it needs to make those changes, so they get made to the old system. Now, you’re trying to hit a different target for the new system. Because the old system is responsible for making all the money, it gets priority, and the new system gets pushed back.

If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know how frustrating it can be, and how challenging it can be to launch the new system. I want people to remember to think hard about making the decision to throw out old code, and replace it with better code. Your intentions are always in the right place, but the uncertainty involved with such a drastic change can mean that all of your efforts will be put into a project which will never get finished, never be rolled out to production, and never make money. It’s a situation that you should always pause, think twice about, and consult with your colleagues regarding the risks and rewards. Take some time and see if you can break it down into smaller chunks, so that you, and your team can be productive.

Do you have any interesting picks – blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

We’re big vim users and fans of Tim Pope a man who has improved my productivity greatly. On the technology front, I love RSpec (for Ruby testing) and Gerrit as a code review tool. For books, I enjoyed reading Succeeding with Agile by Mike Cohn, Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael Feathers, Managing Software Debt by Chris Sterling, and Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and David Farley. For companies, I can only follow the self promotion route and talk about my current place of employment FreeRunning Technologies, a bunch of nerds who write solid code, and solve tough problems for a reasonable price. What more could you need!

Come meet Gregor and hear his talk about migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st.

Braintree Sponsors SpreeConf DC

Posted on April 04, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We’re really excited to announce Braintree, the fastest growing payments platform for online and mobile commerce, as the happy hour sponsor for SpreeConf DC. SpreeConf is a two-day event taking place May 20th – 21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC and features training on Spree as well as presentations from thought leaders in the e-commerce and Ruby communities. The Braintree happy hour takes place the first evening of the conference on May 20th at Policy, one of the most popular restaurants and lounges in DC’s vibrant U Street neighborhood.

Meet the Spree Community

In addition to the happy hour, we’ve built several other networking opportunities into the SpreeConf schedule to allow you to meet some of the really cool and interesting people that are part of the Spree community. You’ll have a chance to meet the Spree core team and discuss and debate the future direction of the Spree platform. SpreeConf is also a great opportunity to meet other Spree developers from around the world and compare notes. And of course, Spree isn’t just for developers. We have plenty of founders and store owners that come to our conferences as well. Whether you’re a startup or an established online business, there will be other business owners for you to network with and learn from.

Conference tickets are selling fast so make sure to secure your spot at SpreeConf DC before we’re sold out.

Customer Spotlight - Hucklebury

Posted on April 03, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We’d like to introduce you to Hucklebury, a vertically-integrated online retailer selling better fitting, high quality men’s shirts at reasonable prices. Learn how they are using Spree and what marketing techniques they are using to build their brand. We sat down with Parag, co-founder of Hucklebury, to learn more about their business model and how they leverage Spree to target their customers’ needs.

How did the Hucklebury business get started?

The idea for Hucklebury.com originated during a trip I took to London in 2009. During that week I visited a friend who worked at Savile Row, a place where the best tailors in the industry are located and the craftsmanship of tailoring got started. I was amazed at the details and the time that goes into the construction of a single shirt. It was at my friend’s store that I met my Hucklebury co-founder, Dhawal. Dhawal and I discussed how we were both unable to find tailored shirts of the same quality at home. We felt that the mass produced shirts they sell at the large retailers didn’t do the average man justice. The fabric used to create these shirts was poor quality and the fit was horrible. There was always so much extra fabric in the chest, arm hole, and back. We saw a business opportunity to solve this issue and offer a high quality, tailored shirt at a reasonable price. With this concept in mind we self-funded Hucklebury in 2011 and launched the brand in September 2012.

Do you have a background in fashion?

Yes, my mother operated a 75-person garment factory with 60+ sewing machines when I was growing up. At the factory, they designed, manufactured and exported scarves, chiffon, shorts, and white shirts to brands like Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom. Later on, I pursued a Masters in Engineering and learned how to remove inefficiencies in manufacturing using six-sigma. Now I apply my engineering learnings as well as the creative skills from my mother at Hucklebury.

Dhawal, my co-founder, has a background in technology. He got his first taste of programming at age 8 with QBasic. Since then, he has been playing with computers, robotics and web development. Dhawal fell into entrepreneurship when he was 18 and led his team to create the ‘Push-up Pal’ for a class – a product that was later featured in The New Paper (Singapore). He also worked at Qik in 2008 where he did web development and was their 5th employee. Qik was later acquired by Skype. His passion for programming and entrepreneurship led him to the opportunity to co-found Hucklebury.

What makes your shirts different from those available at large retailers?

Most large retailers sell mass produced shirts that are really boxy. We’ve reduced the fabric around the chest, sides, and back to get a more tailored and fitted look. On top of that we also made subtle improvements in other areas like the collar to improve the fit. Most collars collapse after a few washings. Our collars have a special interlining that helps them remain standing for almost the entire life of the shirt. Even after multiple washes the collar won’t collapse and fall down. Another innovation we’ve made is to the second button. Some men like to keep their second buttons open. But, most shirts on the market have the button too high or too low for this look. We’ve adjusted the location of the second button to make the fit just right if you leave it open.

We are also unique because we’ve eliminated the middleman, work directly with the factory, and bring the product directly to consumers. Most retail stores mark up their prices a lot because of the middlemen involved. As a result things get quite expensive. Skipping the brick and mortar retailers and offering our shirts directly to consumers online allows us to provide high quality products at reasonable prices.

Who is the target audience for Hucklebury?

Our demographic is men between ages 25 – 45 for whom appearance is important as well as a high quality shirt that fits them well. We offer two different fits for this demographic – slim fit for men who are athletic and regular fit for the average man. We are focused on the U.S. market but we do ship internationally. We’ve shipped as far away as Australia, India, and Singapore.

How do you market the Hucklebury brand?

We’re taking the grass roots approach. We did a soft launch of the brand through social media and blogs focused on menswear to see what the response was to our product. We were trying to understand what our target market thought about the shirt design. Did they like it? What could we improve? The result was a very positive response regarding the features and qualities we are focused on. We also run contests every month on our Facebook page and use other media channels like online and offline print media.

How did you find out about Spree?

I have to give the credit for finding Spree to my technical co-founder. Dhawal is highly focused on the technical side. We were looking for an open source platform that was easy to customize, responsive, and the design looks great. As a start-up we didn’t want to spend a lot of money up front not knowing how our business model would work out. We liked that Spree was built on Ruby on Rails because Dhawal was familiar with this technology and really liked it.

What do you like most about the Spree platform?

We love the level of control Spree gives us over our store. Any add-on feature we need is usually available in the Spree extension library and if it isn’t then the Ruby on Rails framework makes it very easy to add. The rapid pace of Spree upgrades gives us peace of mind that the platform is here to stay. On top of that Spree has a growing and extremely helpful community. Whenever we run into a roadblock there’s always someone available to help.

What’s next for Hucklebury?

Technically, we’re going to continue to expand our product line. Now we offer 18 different colors. In the next two to three months you will see twice as many colors and fits and styles. We are also actively collaborating with other media outlets in terms of partnership efforts. We continue to refine our marketing based on our learnings, SEO, content strategy, and retargeting efforts.

Shop the Hucklebury website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Peter Berkenbosch

Posted on April 02, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Eric Koester who will be discussing how to capitalize on the micro-prenuer revolution at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Peter Berkenbosch. Peter is the owner of PeRoICT Solutions and will be speaking at SpreeConf about how to thoroughly test your Spree store.

Peter Berkenbosch

Peter Berkenbosch

Owner of PeRoICT Solutions
Peter is an early Spree adopter. He launched his first Spree Commerce store for a client back in 2008 and since then has written a number of Spree extensions. Static Content is the first and most popular Spree extension that Peter wrote. It is now an official Spree extension. Peter is also the owner of PeRo ICT Solutions, an agile web-development company that focuses on Spree implementation and development. In 2012, Peter launched SpreeCasts, a website where he educates developers about Spree through screencasts.

Peter’s SpreeConf talk will focus on the details of testing your Spree store. He will discuss how to test the store integration and create adjustments using a test driven style. Peter will also provide an in-depth look at how to test a real store with code samples.

Getting to Know Peter

We asked Peter to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the Ruby space and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

I really like the fact that Ruby on Rails is now considered more “Enterprisy” than before. The Rails framework is really starting to gain more attention in the traditional corporate world.

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

I’m currently building a webshop for a home couture store in Amsterdam. It’s really a great shop with a lot of products and a not so average design. I’m hoping to extract a few Spree extensions from it in the near future. It might even show up in my talk.

I’m also planning on recording more SpreeCasts. The episodes will be part of a larger series that focuses on building a webshop from scratch.

What are you most looking forward to at SpreeConf this year?

I’m really looking forward to meeting all the “Spreeple” again. The community around Spree is really wonderful and it’s always a pleasure to see everyone in person.

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

I would love for my talk to provide some understanding about how developers can approach building a webshop using testable modular parts without pressing F5 all the time.

Do you have any interesting picks – blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

I really like NewsBlur as a replacement to Google reader (Google Reader will be shutting down July 1st). Of course, I would like to mention spreecasts.org as well. More content is planned for the site and will be published in the coming weeks.

Come meet Peter and hear his talk about how to thoroughly test your Spree store at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st.