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Shipstation and Shipwire Integration Upgrades

Posted on November 11, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce Upgrades Shipstation and Shipwire Integrations for Wombat

Spree Commerce has upgraded its integrations for major third-party fulfillment and inventory connections Shipstation and Shipwire. Now, connecting with these integrations is just a matter of a few minutes.

Wombat connects storefronts with all of their mission-critical, ecommerce services. By making the connection to leading shipping and fulfillment providers like Shipwire and Shipstation, Wombat users can send shipment data to, and receive shipment data from, these third-party integrations.

“Having a shipping provider that you can trust is one of the staples of any successful ecommerce brand,” said Spree Commerce COO Josh Resnik. “The Wombat team firmly believes that connecting with industry leaders like Shipstation and Shipwire should be a matter of just a few clicks; no developing code, no custom development necessary.”

Get accurate and reliable access to these integrations by signing up for a two-week integration platform trial of Wombat. For technical documentation on integrating Square with Wombat, visit the Wombat knowledge base.

To view this press release in its original format, visit PRWeb.

RailsGirls Summer of Code: Team BrowserSpree PT. 2

Posted on October 03, 2014 by Jam Black and Britney Wright

About Team BrowserSpree

Team BrowserSpree was one of the 10 sponsored teams selected in this summer’s Rails Girls Summer of Code, and had a pretty busy summer. Based in Washington, DC, teammates Jam Black and Britney Wright, along with their coaches, Patrick Peak and Tanya Bodanya, set a goal of integrating BrowserCMS, a Rails content management system, and Spree into a gem–- BrowserSpree. If you missed part one of this story, feel free to check it out now.

On September 30th, Team BrowserSpree welcomed its “bundle” of joy—our own gem—bcms_spree. It’s been a busy summer, all while both holding (new) full-time jobs, we managed to accomplish our goals for Rails Girls Summer of Code, including:

· Updating BrowserCMS, v 4.0 Beta documentation
· Giving talks at Steel City Ruby & Ruby for Good
· Building stores in BrowserCMS and Spree, separately
· Releasing our first gem—bcms_spree
· Creating our demo store

Bcms_spree

The bcms_spree gem is the glue that binds BrowserCMS and Spree in a single application. The installation process is slightly different from other BrowserCMS modules, as it involves installing BrowserCMS, Spree, and the module itself. As we built our module, we found that BrowserCMS 4.0 Beta was most compatible with Spree 2.2.4 due to gem dependency issues with newer versions of Paperclip 3.4.1 and Rails 4. Features that we built include:

Spree Storefront:

· Full access to Spree Storefront features and functionality
· Create products, process orders, accept payments

Single user model:

· Spree user attributes are added to existing BrowserCMS user model
· Links to Spree/BCMS frontend and backend in nav bar

Separate admin access:

· BrowserCMS and SpreeAdmin areas are separate
· Grant admin access to both areas, just one, or none

Product Portlets & Shopping Carts:

· Starter portlets included to display products on BrowserCMS project pages and most recent products added/viewed
· Display shopping cart on all pages
· Add shopping cart to BrowserCMS pages for visibility throughout the site

To demo the store, please visit: https://browserspree.herokuapp.com!
Check out our work on github: https://github.com/browserspree/bcms_spree!
And if you want to know more about how we got here, visit our blog: http://browserspree.tumblr.com!

We’d like to sincerely thank our coaches – Patrick Peak & Tanya Bodanya, our supervisor Markus Prinz, nclud for hosting us, and everyone affiliated with Rails Girls Summer of Code, including this summer’s sponsors.

RailsGirls Summer of Code: Team BrowserSpree

Posted on September 26, 2014 by Jam Black and Britney Wright

About Team BrowserSpree

Team BrowserSpree is one of the 10 sponsored teams selected in this summer’s Rails Girls Summer of Code, and has had a pretty busy summer. Based in Washington, DC, teammates Jam Black and Britney Wright, along with their coaches, Patrick Peak and Tanya Bodanya, set a goal of integrating BrowserCMS, a Rails content management system and Spree into a gem–- BrowserSpree.

Summer of Code

Setting a goal of combing two separate Rails engines is by far no easy task–- especially for newbies, so to make things easier we broke our goals into milestones:

1. Orientation into BrowserCMS
2. Build a storefront using only BroswerCMS content types
3. Update “Getting Started” and “Content Blocks” documentation (based on experience)
4. Orientation into Spree Commerce
5. Add store features using Spree
6. Build a Spree Module
7. Build a BrowserSpree site

In July, we dove into BCMS using content blocks and portlets to build our own bookstore for our clients (in this case, our coaches). We knew that eventually, we would just look to Spree to perform many of the features below, but this was a good way to gain familiarity with BCMS. The functions we built included:

• Catalog all of the books that our visitors can browse
• View product pages individually
• Categorize by type of book (authors, fiction/nonfiction, politics, economics, young reader, vampire novels, etc.)
• Give authors their own pages that list their work
• Make authors’ other works visible even if we don’t have those books for sale
• When viewing a book, customers should be able to see all the author’s other books for sale
• When viewing a product, buyers should be able to see other related products

In August we received opportunity scholarships to attend Steel City Ruby where we gave our first lightning talk. We also participated in the first ever Ruby for Good, where we worked on BCMS 4.0 Beta documentation. In August, we also dove into Spree, and soon realized since Spree is an ecommerce platform, a lot of the features we built within BCMS in July were automatically included. So we moved onto the next hurdle— installing both gems in the same Rails app so we could see how these engines play together.

Along the way, we learned some helpful tips:

Google, Google, Google

This can’t be said enough. Not only when it comes to errors, but also when you have a feature you are trying to add, or a “how do I go about doing ‘x’ question.” It was surprising how much we found out just by using others people’s questions. Plus, Googling is a required skill to be a developer–- right under using Git or knowing the command line. And you would be shocked by how much even the most experienced developers rely on Google.

It’s okay to go over the basics

It’s hard to write a novel when you can’t first write a sentence. For one or two weeks, we had to cover some Rails basics— in addition to building our store so we could ensure we learned and applied the fundamentals of Rails and not just BCMS-isms.

Pseudo code

Pseudo code is writing in English what you are trying to accomplish in code. It helps to logically map out the steps to get to your desired outcome.

Break large tasks into smaller ones

Start small. When we added a feature, it seemed daunting and oftentimes felt like we had no idea where to start. Breaking one big action into smaller ones was key because it allowed us to start with what we did know–- and take it step-by-step from there.

Where to From Here?

As the last week of Rails Girls Summer of Code wraps up, we are putting the finishing touches on our gem and drafting documentation. Check back for our follow-up post to see how we crossed the hurdles of resolving gem dependencies, deciding what features to include in our gem and, finally, release the alpha version of BrowserSpree! To view this piece in its original format, visit our blog at Rails Girls Summer of Code.

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Shopify Integration Upgrades for Wombat

Posted on September 24, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has released its upgraded, officially supported Shopify Integration for Wombat. Spree Commerce Certified Partner and ecommerce website design and development agency, NuRelm, built the upgraded connection to Shopify stores for Spree’s automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat.

Wombat gives its users the most diverse and effective arsenal of integrations in the industry. NuRelm has extensive experience building integrations for Shopify stores and delivering exceptional, user-friendly websites for businesses of all sizes. For over 15 years, NuRelm has mastered and delivered web projects for small, as well as large, clients like Heinz and Mylan.

By using Wombat’s newly upgraded integration, Shopify storefront users can now connect to Wombat in just five minutes and have easy access to all of the convenient, out-of-the-box ecommerce integrations that Wombat offers.

“The Shopify platform is a great solution that makes it easy to launch your own online storefront,” said Sam Shaaban, CEO and co-founder of NuRelm. “However, as a business grows, so does the complexity of its operations. Wombat connects store owners to all of their mission-critical services and scales according to their business needs; eliminating complexity and preventing problems.”

For a complete rundown on how to easily connect with Shopify, join us on Wednesday, October 1st at 2PM EST for a co-hosted Shopify integration webinar. The webinar will be led by Shaaban, who will provide a detailed tour of how to quickly and easily integrate your Shopify storefront with Wombat. To view the full press release on ths upgrade, visit PRWeb.

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5 Tricks for Connecting to Quickbooks

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Jennifer Glantz

Spree Webinar: Top 5 Tricks for Connecting Your Store to Quickbooks

Is it too much to ask for a product that easily connects your store to Quickbooks? Users want to get the most out of their Quickbooks investment, but they don’t always know how. One of Wombat’s most popular features is our integration with Quickbooks. No custom code required.

Join us for a live Webinar on Wednesday, August 6th at 2:00 PM EDT to see how easily Wombat handles Quickbooks. Sameer Gulati, Chief Product Officer for Spree Commerce, will tell you the top five tricks you need to know to rid yourself of the headaches of managing your inventory and accounting with Quickbooks.

In this Webinar we’ll discuss:

• How Quickbooks can help you with your inventory and accounting
• How to configure Quickbooks in a way that makes sense for your business
• Why connecting your store to Quickbooks can be so hard
• How to connect your store to Quickbooks so your data can flow easily and accurately
• And much, much more!

Register now! Space is limited!

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The Largest Multi-Tenant Deployment of Spree

Posted on July 02, 2014 by Melissa Pegus

Spree Commerce and GoDaddy: The Largest Multi-Tenant Deployment of Spree

GoDaddy Online Store is taking Spree to altogether new dimensions of scalability and user experience, as one of the largest multi-tenant deployments of Spree. We plan to scale Spree to a huge number of hosted stores (hundreds of thousands) and plan to add thousands of new stores every month. At the same time, it’s very simple to use, and enables small-to-medium businesses the ability to build, manage and operate e-commerce websites easily without the need of any technical know how. The event will be hosted on Thursday, July 24, 2014 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM PDT in Sunnyvale, CA.

We are very thankful to the Spree community and excited about making significant contributions to it. These contributions are, and will continue to be, in the form of new features, extensions, performance and scalability improvements, bug fixes, quality improvements, knowledge sharing, and more. The scale of Online Store poses a unique set of challenges, and many good things will come out of it!

Please come and meet the Online Store team at GoDaddy’s Sunnyvale office and engage in some enriching discussions with fellow Spree users and builders. We will be sharing more information on GoDaddy Online Store, how we made Spree multi-tenant, how we provided a very sleek user experience, and made performance improvements to Spree, including an upgrade from 2.0 to 2.2.

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Spree and Affirm: Consumer Financing

Posted on July 01, 2014 by Melissa Pegus

Spree Commerce and Affirm Meetup in San Francisco

The Meetup

On Wednesday, July 16, 2014, Spree Commerce and Affirm will be linking up in San Francisco to host the featured meetup, "Spree & Affirm Consumer Financing: Increasing revenue, decreasing costs for modern merchants.” The event is for everyone from Spree merchants to expert Spree developers, to those just wanting to learn more about e-commerce or payments.

There will be live demos, discussions on projects that are under way, as well as time for people to share their war stories and collaborate on opportunities. Of course, there will be food. And beer!
The Meetup will be from 6:30 to 9:00 PM PDT.

The Partnership

Spree Commerce believes in bringing the best in customer experience, design, and service to merchants. Affirm shares those values. After a great SpreeConf 2014, Affirm and Spree have partnered to offer Affirm’s simple, elegant consumer financing to its merchants’ customers. The Affirm extension is now available for integration.

About Affirm

Created in 2013 by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and Palantir co-founder Nathan Gettings, Affirm is reimagining financial services – from credit cards to deposit banking. Starting with an amazingly simple, new way to get affordable financing at the online point of sale, Affirm lets shoppers pay for purchases across multiple months with transparent, fairly-priced fees built into every payment, and boosts conversion and basket size for eTailers at less than the cost of credit cards.

With Affirm, there is zero risk for the eTailer. Affirm pays its merchants in full at the time of settlement and their customers enjoy payments stretched out in monthly installments. Unlike point-of-sale credit options, Split Pay is consumer-friendly. By providing clear terms and a fixed set of payments, consumers using Split Pay are never hit with surprises or large fees, as they often are with revolving credit. Online shoppers can make a purchase and pay across multiple months with simple, clear financing fees that are a fraction of credit card interest rates. Read what people are saying about Affirm.

Rails Girls DC Back at Spree Headquarters

Posted on June 18, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Rails Girls Welcomed Back to Spree Headquarters

For the second time in 2014, Spree Commerce co-hosted a Meetup with Rails Girls DC at our DC-area headquarters. Rails Girls was founded on a mission to give tools and a strong community for women to better understand technology, and help make their ideas a reality. They do this by providing a great programming experience, and by making technology more approachable.

Rails Girls are regulars at our annual SpreeConf sessions, and we are proud to have forged a strong bond with them! Founded in Finland, but now a global, non-profit group of volunteers, Rails Girls is very active worldwide in the Ruby on Rails community, hosting and participating in events around the globe. We recently teamed up for the third time in the last calendar year to discuss the Rails Girls guides, Ruby on Rails basics, how to build an application, present lightning talks and binge on pizza.

You can probably tell that we team up on the regular, so keep an eye out for the next Meetup! You can also keep up with the Rails Girls by visiting their events page to find out where in the world they will be next.

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Ruby Nation: The Secrets of Venture Based Startups

Posted on June 11, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“A Game of Startups” by Sean Schofield

RubyNation, the DC-hosted event for the local software community, concluded last weekend to bring the seventh annual conference to a close. Over 270 attendees quickly sold out the venue, and helped make RubyNation 2014 a blast for all who could make it!

Our very own Sean Schofield spoke to the crowd with his presentation, “A Game of Startups.” Sean drew from his experience as CEO and co-founder of Spree to explain why, to paraphrase a certain popular television queen, “in the game of startups, you either win or you die.”

Sean went into great detail on the dirty little secrets of venture-based startups, giving great insight and tips for those who are running, working for, or just curious about, companies that are funded by venture capitalists.

So, who are the players in this particular game? With startups, we trade “Thrones’” kings, lords and knights for founders, investors, and employees, while winning is defined by survival and financial success.

Sean goes into far greater detail in his presentation, including the math behind a successful exit, and a breakdown of the results from some startups that have already won the game. We had a blast at RubyNation 2014 and are already looking forward to next year’s event. Hope to see you there!

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Spree Commerce Represents at MagmaConf 2014

Posted on June 10, 2014 by Melissa Pegus

Magmaconf, Mexico’s premier mobile and modern web development conference, was held in beautiful Manzanillo last week. The annual event, hosted by Spree Commerce Certified Premier Partners Crowd Interactive, was a huge success! Attendees from all over the world, including Github, Rackspace, Engine Yard, and Code Climate, descended upon the beach town for a few days of collaboration, commemoration, and festivities.

Spree Commerce Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Melissa Pegus, was there to represent Spree, and came prepared with her own presentation, “A Modular Approach to E-Commerce.” In her talk, Melissa detailed what Spree believes are the benefits of modularity when it comes to e-commerce, including improved speed to market, empowerment of e-commerce teams to be self-sufficient, and global business scalability.

Everyone from Spree-certified partners, integration partners, developers, and store owners had a blast. MagmaConf’s social events included great food, cold beer, a mechanical bull, and a very lively game of volleyball. A great time was had by all, and we are already counting down the days until next year’s event. Hope to see you there!

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Spree and Red Badger Meetup Huge Success in London

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree and Red Badger Meetup Huge Success in London

We are pleased to announce that Wednesday evening’s Meetup, hosted by Red Badger, was a huge success! The event accomplished its goal of kicking off the London Spree Commerce User Group, and featured four keynote speakers, including Spree COO Josh Resnik and developer Peter Berkenbosch, as well as Red Badger co-founders Cain Ullah and David Wynne.

Josh’s presentation keyed in on two themes: First, who Spree is as a company, and second, an explanation of where Spree Commerce fits into the e-commerce marketplace, and who should choose Spree as its platform. Peter followed up by getting into the specifics of the Spree hub, and the new Spree hub user interface. Peter backed up his presentation with a live demo of the hub, including how to build webhooks, defining events and flows, and a step-by-step guide describing how to debug issues that users may come across.

Red Badger co-founders Cain Ullah and David Wynne talked about the Spree hackathon that introduced them to Spree, and their experience building a Spree store in just two days. The Red Badger duo went into specifics of the hackathon process, and what was needed to build the store before demoing the product.

Overall, the night was a great success, as some 40-odd Spree enthusiasts showed up to discuss their experiences, share war stories, and then took off to the pub together for some pizza and beer. A special thanks goes out to Red Badger, who already has the next London Meetup under way for September 3rd, so it’s not too early to make your arrangements!

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Spree Commerce and Ninefold Meetup Recap

Posted on May 13, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce and Ninefold Meetup Recap

We are proud to announce that the first ever Spree Commerce Meetup was a great success! Hosted by our partners Ninefold in San Francisco, CA, those in attendance were representative of a number of different backgrounds.

Everyone from Spree-certified partners, integration partners, developers and store owners had a blast, as the night was kicked off in true Spree fashion: With burritos and beers. Hosts Ninefold presented their deck on Spree Commerce performance, and Spree representative Melissa Pegus gave those in attendance a true look at the hard work Spree has been putting in behind the scenes, in regard to its integration platform.

Key attendees of the night included representatives from Crowd Interactive, Resolve Digital, BuildRX, Downshift Labs’ lead developer Denis Ivanov, GoDaddy and Affirm. The enthusiasm from the event was already spilling into future partner-hosted meetups, with the next one just around the corner, on May 14th. Talks of future San Francisco events are already in the works, so stay tuned!

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How Smart is Your E-commerce Intelligence?

Posted on May 07, 2014 by Jennifer Glantz

How Smart is Your E-commerce Intelligence?

We’re excited to announce the next in our series of webinars—How Smart is Your E-commerce Intelligence? This must-see webinar will be presented by our partner and leading e-commerce analytics provider, Jirafe, on May 14th, at 2 PM EDT.

One of the biggest challenges e-commerce retailers struggle with on a daily basis is how to view data in a way that enables them to quickly make decisions that help them drive revenue. During this webinar, we will look at real-life examples of how e-commerce retailers can leverage advanced analytics to:

• Optimize on-site merchandising of products to increase conversion rates
• Increase the overall lifetime value of their customers
• Identify at risk customers and prevent churn

Register now and attend to receive an exclusive, special offer!

"Spree Commerce Peformance" by Daniel Sim Lind

Posted on May 06, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“Spree Commerce Peformance” by Daniel Sim Lind

Daniel Sim Lind, former strategic marketing and creative director at Ninefold, spoke at SpreeConf 2014 to discuss the results he and his team found when using Spree Commerce as the subject of extensive research on website performance. What he found was that the Spree Commerce platform is capable of exceptional performance and smooth scalability.

Why does performance matter, you may ask? Because it matters to the users, and the users impact the bottom line. As Daniel explained in further detail in his presentation, Amazon found that every 100ms of average responsiveness improvement boosted revenue by 1%, a statistic that was backed by a failed experiment from Google. Google performed a survey asking users what they could do to increase their performance, and the overwelming response was that web searchers wanted more results on the first page.

Google followed suit, and the extra first-page results caused slower website load time. When the website slowed, Google saw a 20% drop in traffic, and a 20% drop in revenue. AOL, Yahoo and Shopzilla performed similar tests, and all yielded similar results.

So, why again does performance matter? Because time is money. Learn more by watching Daniel’s full presentation.

More presentations from SpreeConf 2014 are coming soon, so be sure to check back with us, and subscribe to our Youtube channel. To learn more about Spree Commerce and Ninefold, be sure to attend our co-hosted meetup, “The Future of E-Commerce,” on Thursday, May 8, in San Francisco. For more information, as well as to register, click here.

"Right Decision, Wrong Outcome" by Jeff Ma

Posted on May 01, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

“Right Decision, Wrong Outcome,” by Jeff Ma

Jeff Ma, CEO of tenXer, and the inspiration for the New York Times’ Best Seller, Bringing Down the House, and its cinematic adaptation, 21, was one of SpreeConf 2014’s key speakers. In his presentation, Jeff discussed the importance of making data-driven business decisions, and not letting adverse biases, such as group think and loss aversion, skew what you know to be right.

Jeff drew from his proficiencies in blackjack, and emphasized the key similarities between running a successful black jack team that translated to his entrepreneurial experiences with Golfspan, ProTrade, Citizen Sports, and now at tenXer.

Highlights from Jeff’s speech include the necessity of recognizing the difference between the right decisions from the right outcomes and the fact that, in spite of our best efforts, the former is not always a precursor to the latter. Jeff not only pointed out the keys in forming a business, such as trust, communication, metrics and transparency, but if you pay attention, you might just get some great blackjack tips!

More presentations from SpreeConf 2014 will be published soon, so be sure to check back in with us, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Perfecting Your E-Commerce Frontend

Posted on April 30, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Perfecting Your E-Commerce Frontend by Denis Ivanov

Denis Ivanov, lead developer at Downshift Labs, returned to SpreeConf 2014 to give an updated version of the most popular talk from SpreeConf 2013: Perfecting Your E-Commerce Frontend. In this year’s speech, Denis shares three years of experience running a growing niche store through high-level direction, as well as the importance of practical code samples.

Denis includes a great deal of ProTips ® on how to please both robots and humans: Search
Engine Optimization, both back end and client-side performance, plus conversion rate management. Denis’ tips ensure you get the most performance, as well as the fastest implementation, from your frontend.

Denis has been working with Rails and Ruby since high school. His passion for the open source framework is largely responsible for his decision to pursue Computer Science professionally, and he continues to work with Rails every day! In his free time, Denis can be found volunteering at various outreach programs in San Francisco, sharing his passion for fulfilling programming employment.

The Naked Truth About Clothing and Sales Tax

Posted on April 30, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

The Naked Truth About Clothing and Sales Tax

AvalaraThank you to our partners at Avalara, who hosted a webinar for us on the challenges, and solutions to, the treacherous landscape of managing state-to-state clothing tax laws. From common misconceptions to the specific quirks in certain states (different taxes for different-sized boots?) Avalara covered everything an e-commerce clothing retailer would need to know. Here are some of the highlights:

Webinar host Jennifer Myers stresses the importance of understanding nexus for those in the clothing industry. “Nexus” is the connection between a state and a business, and allows a state to compel an out-of-state company to register and collect sales tax. The out-of-state company must have a “physical presence,” but that definition is changing, something the webinar goes into more detal about.

The webinar will help clarify:

• Whether you have established nexus in the last year
• The confusion regarding Florida, Texas, and New York’s state tax laws on clothing
• Product taxability
• Product Exemptions

Jennifer also details the risks of determining sales tax rates by zip codes, and the inaccuracy of the practice.

For more on managing the treachery of state-to-state tax laws on clothing, you can review the slides here, or view the full webinar.

Spree and Ninefold to Host San Francisco Meetup

Posted on April 28, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

The Meetup

On Thursday, May 8, 2014, Spree Commerce and Ninefold will be linking up in San Francisco to host the featured meetup, "The Future of E-Commerce.” The event is for everyone from expert Spree developers to those just wanting to learn more about the industry.

There will be live demos, discussions on projects that are under way, as well as time for people to share their war stories and collaborate on opportunities. And of course there will be food. And beer.

The Meetup will be held between 6:30 and 9:30 PM Pacific.

The Partnership

The partnership between Spree Commerce and Ninefold started when Ninefold shared some incredible research they had done on website load time, using Spree as the basis.

After a popular presentation at SpreeConf 2014, Ninefold decided to take the partnership to the next level and journey all the way from both San Francisco and Australia to visit our DC-area headquarters. While here, Ninefold hosted a fantastic webinar, "Lightining fast Page Load Times, which you can access by registering here. We enjoyed our time brainstorming (not to mention binging on Chipotle) together so much that we decided to do it again, this time in San Francisco, and co-host this meetup.

About Ninefold

Ninefold was founded on a principal of shaking up outdated norms and finding a better way to do things. In that vein, everyone in the Ninefold team believes in making dreams a reality—both their own and those in the community they serve.

Dreaming is how we all challenge the old practices. Ninefold’s dream is to dramatically change the Rails hosting landscape, so that developers no longer have to compromise application ingenuity for easy app deployment. The folks at Ninefold believe compromise is a thing of the past, and work hard to make that belief a reality.

Improving the User Experience

Posted on April 23, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Improving the User Experience by Scott Raio

Scott Raio, CTO and co-founder of the popular men’s clothing brand, Combatant Gentlemen, spoke at SpreeConf 2014, detailing the challenges, and solutions to, delivering the best user experience possible in both an online and offline atmosphere.

Having already established itself as an e-commerce power, Combatant Gentlemen wanted to extend the user experience to include the ability to physically try on the clothes before customers made their purchase. The issue that presented itself was that Combatant Gentlemen wanted all of its offline purchases to run through Spree, just like its online sales, in order to deliver the most comfortable offline scenario as possible.

Clearly, having customers lug a laptop through Combatant Gentlemen’s pop-up store was not an option, so it was up to Scott and his team of developers to think outside the box. What they came up with was their “Super Sweet Magic Mirror,” which turned heads at the 2013 Vegas Hack-A-Thon.

The two-way mirror, complete with a TV in the back and an RFID reader in the bottom, takes the RFID-enabled clothing that the customer is wearing and displays information, such as the price and similar items, right in front of the user. The mirror then communicates to Spree and back to the user. When customers are ready to make the purchase, they simply swipe their credit card in Combatant Gentlemen’s point of sale app, which would talk direclty to Spree.

More sessions and videos from SpreeConf 2014 will be uploaded soon, so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see them as they go live.

Best M-Commerce Practices by Bryan Mahoney

Posted on April 15, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Best M-Commerce Practices by Bryan Mahoney from SpreeConf 2014

Though still very much in its infancy, mobile commerce is already an established force in the retail marketplace. As sellers continue to adjust to this medium, there is plenty of room for improvement.

From SpreeConf 2014, Bryan Mahoney, partner and director at Dynamo, discusses keys to best m-commerce practices that will keep your shoppers happy, and most importantly, help grow your business.




With tips that include how to keep your homepage concise, the significance of calls to action, and the importance of limiting content on your website, Bryan’s presentation is a must-watch for retailers who want to stay ahead of this growing trend in the shopping experience.

More sessions and videos from SpreeConf will be uploaded soon, so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Behind the Best Storefronts by Sean Schofield

Posted on April 10, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Behind the Best Storefronts by Sean Schofield

As co-founder and CEO of Spree Commerce, Sean Schofield was able to provide his valuable insight on Spree Commerce’s impact on the future of the e-commerce industry at SpreeConf 2014.

Sean talked about how Spree is continuing to empower the world’s sellers. He discussed the rapid growth of Spree’s open source community and its impact on our storefront platform. Sean also updated the audience on the latest developments with the hub, which developers and store owners can use to add and manage integrations to other services such as fulfillment providers, accounting systems, and more.















In his talk, Sean outlined where Spree Commerce is going, and why now is such an exciting time to join partners and customers like Bonobos and GoDaddy, to become an integral contributor to the e-commerce future.

More sessions and videos from SpreeConf will be uploaded soon so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

15 Best Practices for Mobile

Posted on April 09, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Go Dynamo

Special thanks to our partner, Dynamo, who hosted a webinar for us today on the 15 best practices for mobile commerce taken from the real world. From how to layout the design of your e-commerce site, to marketing best practices to complete the sale, there are a lot of things you should be thinking about when you’re creating your new (or updating your old) mobile e-commerce site. Here are just a few:

15 Best Practices for Mobile Commerce-From the Real World

The amount of purchases made via phones and tablets are climbing quickly! In fact, in industries such as video games, music and books, tablets are now the most popular way to make a purchase. With that being said, there are some valuable tips you should heed to avoid being one of the sites that are contributing to the whopping 88% disapproval rate of mobile shoppers.

1. Keep your homepage concise

Mobile shoppers are 30% more likely to convert to your product with a focused landing page that will keep the shopping experience simple and succinct.

2. Calls to action actually work

25% of shoppers are more likely to click on a call to action link with a verb in it, than without. For example, provide a tab that says “Shop Products” instead of simply, “Products.”

3. Pair your Call to Action And Price

By pairing a call to action that includes “Action + Price” research shows that you will see a 76% increase of mobile users beginning the checkout process.

4. Turn down the noise

Websites that simplify the options and information around their item are seeing an astronomical 497% increase in checkout engagement than those who try to provide too much. For example, if one of your products is a t-shirt, simply have a picture of the shirt, the price, and the add to cart call to action.

5. Less (copy) is more

By providing less copy around your product, you are likely to get 103% more clicks on your item, and 34% more conversions for your brand.

For more on these helpful tips, as well as many others, you can review the slides here. The full webinar will be available soon, so be sure to check in with us!

Announcing Webinar Series

Posted on March 19, 2014 by Jennifer Glantz

Announcing Spree Commerce’s 2014 Webinar Series!

Spree Commerce is excited to announce our 2014 webinar series. These webinars are designed to educate the Spree Commerce community about industry best practices, how-to’s, and customer success stories.

Ninefold

We’ll be kicking off the series on March, 26th at 2PM with our partner, Ninefold, discussing “Lightning Fast Page Load Times” with Spree. Andrew Sharpe will lead the audience through the performance testing journey that his company took with Spree, including:

· A deep dive into the methodology and tools
· The analysis
· Using user happiness as a testing constant
· The results – and what it all means for you
· Hot-off-the-press Spree 2-2 with cacheing test results

Why Should You Attend?

According to KISS metrics, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less and 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again. With that in mind, you can’t afford to miss this webinar!

Click here to register now! And check back often to see our other upcoming webinars.

SpreeConf NYC Re-cap

Posted on March 06, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Last week we hosted our fourth SpreeConf by returning to New York, which was the site of our first SpreeConf. It seemed our old stomping ground brought us good luck as we had our most successful SpreeConf to date! With the largest turnout and inspiring presentations, it was a great opportunity to network and meet with the awesome Spree community. Here’s a recap of what went down at SpreeConf 2014.

The Sessions

SpreeConf 2014 included two days of training and talks. We had 16 speakers, including Andy Dunn, CEO of Bonobos, Jeff Ma, CEO of TenXer and Amit Shah, CEO of Jirafe. They gave valuable insight into e-commerce as a whole and the opportunies and risks in growing a business from an entrepreneurial perspective. Here are some of the highlights.

Day 1

  • Jeff Cassimir – In the “Introduction to Spree”, Jeff used a creative approach to describe all the reasons that you should want to use Spree.
  • Ryan Bigg – In Introducing Spree 2.2 Adjustments, Ryan talked about the guidelines we used for refactoring adjustments, the complexities of sales tax, and all the improvements made in Spree 2.2
  • Brian Quinn – In his session, Backend Integrations with Spree Commerce, Brian discussed the latest changes to the Hub and how it makes things easier for users and is more accessible for everybody. He ran through a variety of common use cases, and how they’re handled within the Hub.
  • Antonio Silviera – Antonio talked about the new face of GoDaddy, why they selected Spree and an Open Source stack, how they’ve built their multi-tenancy system, and other features they’re putting in place for their customers in his session, Spree Multistore.
  • Daniel Sim Lind – In Spree Commerce Performance, Daniel fron Ninefold, told us about how Google and your customers value site performance, how to effectively test your site speed, and how their platform can help you improve.
  • Denis Ivanov – Refreshing his SpreeConf DC talk, Perfecting Your E-Commerce Frontend, Denis shared more simple improvements that will help with site performance and making you look good in search results.
  • Andy Dunn – In his talk, “E-Commerce is a Bear”, Andy discussed the opportunities and challenges in building a profitable, lasting company. He captivated the audience with his insights and stories gleaned from years spent growing one of the world’s most successful e-commerce businesses.

Day 2

  • Sean Schofield – In his session, Behind the Best Storefronts, Sean talked about the Spree Eco-system, the positive momentum, the new Spree Editions being open sourced and the Spree vision.
  • Ryan Bigg – Ryan discussed the expanding ecosystem that is Spree in his session, Whirlwind Tour of Spree Commerce Ecosystem, where he walked (or ran!) the audience through the wide world of capabilities that Spree brings to bear, set against his typical day interacting with the hundreds of Spree contributors around the world who make daily improvements to the Spree platform.
  • Daniel Honig – In Storytelling Through Content with Spree, Daniel talked about how Rails Dog uses the Spree platform to tell a story and create unique experiences online.
  • Jeff Ma – By using a blackjack metaphor, in Right Decision – Wrong Outcome, Jeff spoke about his adventures outwitting Las Vegas casinos armed only with data and a touch of social engineering. He drew a wide range of parallels to the business world, also covering common psychological pitfalls that tend to trip up even the most sophisticated among us.
  • Scott Raio – In “Controlling the User Experience”, Scott confirmed that he knows a thing about applied technology. In his talk, he enthralled the audience with next generation configurations of the Spree platform, including dressing room mirrors he equipped with RFID sensors that pull in live product information in real time from his Spree store.
  • Sebastian Bean, Dmitri Vassilev, Emmett Shine – Solving the Problem Puzzle: A Case Study was an extremely development driven session which focused on the overarching challenges with building a connected storefront on Spree, and gave tips and insight into how to best alleviate these challenges for a truly beautiful, high-end website on Spree configured for every imaginable need.
  • Bryan Mahoney – In Results Driven Responsive E-Commerce Best Practices, Bryan focused on advice for developers who are also building responsive e-commerce sites with tips and techniques that have worked well for the team at GoDynamo. Backed with compelling numbers, Bryan delved deep into 15 actionable UI changes that will drive a significant uptick in sales for your online store.
  • Amit Shah – “This will all be easier when we’ve made it big as a company.” Not so fast says Amit Shah of Jirafe. In his session, The Tyranny of Growth, Amit discussed that problems only amplify with scale. He went into detail about the right areas to focus on in order to scale with as much grace as possible.

Mixin Mingle with Bonobos

Bonobos was gracious enough to host a SpreeConf welcome reception at their headquarters. It was a great time to mingle with other attendees at SpreeConf, as well as get to know the Bonobos team and check out some of the new spring line in their men’s store. Special thanks to the team at Bonobos for helping us greet the SpreeConf attendees!

Whiskey/Happy Hour

SpreeConf 2014 concluded both days with a happy/whiskey hour sponsored by Avalara. It featured local microbrews, a selection of wines and the ever desired SpreeConf Whiskey – imported from Ireland. The whiskey was such a hit that we ran out in record time! Next time, we double the order! And you can buy your very own SpreeConf 2014 whiskey here!

Lightning Talks

At this years Lightning Talks, sponsored by Brightcove, we had such a large number of people sign up, including several first time public speakers, that we had to spill over into Thursday so that all speakers would get time to talk. Thanks to everyone who submitted a topic and for being flexible with such a huge turnout!

After Party at Shakespeare Pub and Snap

The two SpreeConf 2014 after parties were held at the Shakespeare Pub and Snap Bar. The Shakespeare Pub was a nice, warm change to the bitter temperatures in NYC. The setting was cozy and quaint, and lent itself to be the perfect place to get to know all of the SpreeConf attendees, talk shop and wind down from a great first day. Snap was a great location to celebrate the success of SpreeConf NYC and solidify future partnerships over a pint.

SpreeConf Photos

We’ve uploaded all of our photos to our instagram account using #spreeconf and to our facebook account. Please share any photos you snapped at SpreeConf with us!

Sponsors

We’d like to thank all our sponsors for their support of Spree and SpreeConf 2014, including Ninefold who sponsored the great breakfast and lunches we had, Stickermule who created the AWESOME posters at the conference and General Assembly who helped us promote the conference to up and coming developers. And a special shout out to GoDaddy, our premier sponsor, who provided some awesome (and much talked about shirts) and helped us with logistics leading up to the conference.

Thank YOU!

And lastly, thanks to everyone who made the trek to NYC to help make SpreeConf NYC a great place to talk shop, meet and mingle with community leaders and generally just take some time to enjoy the hard work and strides we are all making with Spree. If you have any suggestions or feedback, we’d love to hear it!

Get to Know SpreeConf NYC Speaker: Ryan Bigg

Posted on February 10, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Last week we introduced you to Andrew Hooker who will be talking about putting the order in disorder at SpreeConf NYC February 26th & 27th. Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Bigg. Ryan is the Community Manager, at Spree Commerce and will be speaking at SpreeConf about the general ecosystem and one on the adjustments refactoring.

Andrew Hooker

Ryan Bigg
Community Manager

I go by two names: Ryan and Radar. You’ll see the latter one around on IRC and GitHub a lot. I’m the Community Manager for Spree Commerce and have been now for two years. Anyone who’s interacted with Spree has probably seen me around. I help the people using Spree (affectionately called “Spreeple”) by answering their emails, going through issues and pull requests for Spree and our extensions, and when I’m not doing that I write code for new features in Spree, like the new adjustments and caching work that will be included into Spree 2.2.

When I am not working on Spree, I write. I wrote a book called Rails 3 in Action which is currently being revised into Rails 4 in Action by the brilliant Steve Klabnik. I’ve written another book called Multitenancy with Rails and I’m currently writing my third book, Debugging Ruby.

I also do other things than Spree and writing, but they are not as interesting to this particular audience so I will leave them out.

Getting to Know Ryan

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The range of new programming languages out there is exciting. On the frontend, there’s Angular and Ember. On the backend, languages like Go, Rust and Elixir seem to be gaining traction. Just the sheer amount of smart people working on new programming languages is exciting to me.

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

The adjustments work on the master branch is probably the thing that most people would be interested in. Rather than having adjustments be calculated and then applied to the order as a whole, the adjustments are applied to each item (a line item, a shipment or the order). I have a big write up about all this on my blog.

All in all, it allows for a more flexible adjustments system than was available in previous versions. It may also result in some speed-ups with the cart, but I have not benchmarked that to be sure of that.

I recently did some caching work on the API and Frontend components of Spree. I’ve taken the products listing for the API from doing about 11 requests per second on my test machine, to about 1,500 requests per second. Slightly faster.

In the frontend, I’ve added fragment caching to the main pages and have been experimenting with some whole page caching there too.

I am still working on the finer points of that and putting it all into an extension that should be ready by SpreeConf.

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

Seeing all the people who are within the community. It was really great last year seeing so many people there, and I can’t wait to see how many and who is there this year!

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

I’m giving two talks: one on the general ecosystem and one on the adjustments refactoring.

Regarding the ecosystem one, I hope to give people an idea of some of the useful extensions out there in the community that they can use in their stores. I will also cover how much the Spree ecosystem has grown in the past three years and finally how they can help make Spree better.

Regarding the adjustments talk: Hopefully their nightmares involving the adjustments and promotions systems in Spree go away.

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

I get my blog links from Twitter, so I’m not much help there. Technology though: the Go programming language looks and feels really nice to work with. The Elixir language feels even nicer than that, although that is probably due to its Ruby-like syntax.

As for new companies, it’s not really a company, but have you seen what the Downtown Project in Vegas are doing? They’re revitalizing Downtown Las Vegas and their plans sound really great.

Come meet Ryan and hear his talk about putting the order in disorder SpreeConf NYC, February 26 and 27. Get your tickets now! Less than 4 weeks to go!

Get to Know SpreeConf NYC Speaker: Andrew Hooker

Posted on January 31, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Earlier this week we introduced you to Scott Raio who will be talking about controlling the user experience at SpreeConf NYC February 26th & 27th. Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Hooker. Andrew is the Lead Support Engineer, at Spree Commerce and will be speaking at SpreeConf about putting the order in disorder.

Andrew Hooker

Andrew Hooker
Lead Support Engineer

Andrew joined the Spree Community in early 2010, back when Rails versions started with 2, and Spree versions started with 0. He was leading a re-platforming from a custom perl storefront to Spree 0.11. Even after that was complete, he stayed involved in the community, answering questions on IRC and on the user group, and submitting pull requests wherever he could. Andrew joined the Spree Commerce staff in Spring of 2012, doing development and customer support.

Getting to Know Andrew

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The beautification of e-commerce; stepping beyond a standard product page, and creating a rich user experience.
Technology revolutionizing brick&mortar storefronts; services like Square, Belly and Euclid Analytics

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

I lead the support efforts at Spree, and I’ve been writing a book about my experience about how you can effectively support your own open source code, and how you can benefit from it. I’m also working on getting the SpreeCommerce blog more active, working on both technical and business content that will be coming soon!

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

Seeing old and new friends, and hearing all the stories “from the trenches”.

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

I hope that attendees see the value in keeping their store up to date on Spree. We’re constantly working to improve Spree and make sure that it is providing the best possible solution for modern stores.

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

Go Sphero – I got a sphere for Christmas, and it’s just fun. The simple case is using a mobile app to power it, but it’s easy to pair with your Mac and control from a ruby command line!
We Montage – A local startup who replatformed onto Spree. They’re innovating on technology to compete with much larger potential competitors
Code as Craft – Etsy’s technical blog; not a high volume blog, but always interesting to see what they’re tackling, including things like site performance, chef, and graphing how sleep relates to on-call work and incidents.
Instigator Blog – Like many blogs, it should be treated as one person’s opinion, and not the law, but Ben typically has good insights that are thought provoking at the very least.

What did you like most about SpreeConf last year?

The venues! Both the organized venues, and all the surrounding areas we were able to take advantage of, including all the incredible DC scenery.
The people! SpreeConf never fails to be full of inspirational people, pushing the line of what we thought was possible.

Come meet Andrew and hear his talk about putting the order in disorder SpreeConf NYC, February 26 and 27. Get your tickets now! Less than 4 weeks to go!

Get to Know SpreeConf NYC Speaker: Scott Raio

Posted on January 28, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Last week we introduced you to Ric Lister who will be talking about Spree operations as code at SpreeConf NYC February 26th & 27th. Today we’d like to introduce you to Scott Raio. Scott is the Chief Technology Officer, and Co-Founder, at Combatant Gentleman and will be speaking at SpreeConf about controlling the user experience.

Scott Raio

Scott Raio
Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder

Scott Raio is the co-founder and CTO of Combatant Gentlemen. His background is in databases, infrastructure, and SaaS. He has a love for all things web, data, and [programming] languages.

Getting to Know Scott

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The internet of things. The new hardware renaissance is captivating to say the least. Technology has become so cheap, connecting the physical world has never been easier. With the latest acquisition of Nest, entrepreneurs need to start thinking outside of the box with what’s possible, and I don’t mean “smart toasters”.

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

Currently at Combatent Gentleman, we’ve been working on an ERP for ecomm companies. Our goal is to make supply-chain, especially overseas production, seamless and efficient.

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

I am looking forward to meeting smart, talented hackers who are passionate about their craft.

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

I hope attendees really think about the user’s experience when building out their storefronts. How a little bit can go a long way when it comes to path-to-purchase.

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

Every JS hacker must read “JavaScript the good parts”. Check out WebRTC, it’s much more than video chat.

Come meet Scott and hear his talk about controlling the the user experience at SpreeConf NYC, February 26 and 27. Get your tickets now! Less than 5 weeks to go!

Get to Know SpreeConf NYC Speaker: Ric Lister

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Earlier this week we introduced you to Denis Ivanov who will be talking about perfecting your e-commerce front end at SpreeConf NYC February 26th & 27th. Today we’d like to introduce you to Ric Lister. Ric is the Director of DevOps at Spree Commerce and will be speaking at SpreeConf about Spree operations as code.

Ric Lister

Ric Lister
Director of DevOps

Ric Lister is Director of DevOps at Spree Commerce, where he wrangles servers, evangelizes infrastructure as code, and monitors all the things. Ric loves ruby, chef, and is starting to get pretty fired up about go.

Getting to Know Ric

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The narrowing boundary between development and ops means increasingly I get to work with people who understand and take responsibility for the full technology experience: architecture, code and user experience.

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

I’m working on a rewrite of the dashiki monitoring dashboard, and some of the ideas that spring from this will be making their way into the Spree Hub in the near future.

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

Getting to know some of the talented people working with Spree.

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

That infrastructure should be just another piece of code.

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

The Food Fight Show is a great podcast to follow to keep up with developments in the world of DevOps. I’m also following very closely Paul Dix’s new project Influxdb, which is a very promising time series and metrics database.

Come meet Ric and hear his talk about Spree operations as code at SpreeConf NYC, February 26 and 27. Get your tickets now! Less than 6 weeks to go!

Get to Know SpreeConf NYC Speaker: Denis Ivanov

Posted on January 20, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Last week we introduced you to Emmett Shine who will be talking about solving the platform puzzle at SpreeConf NYC February 26th & 27th. 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

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I was introduced to Rails and Ruby while I was still in high school and it was largely what pushed me to pursue Computer Science formally. I am still working with Rails happily everyday! I always find myself wanting to spread the joy of gainful and fulfilling programming employment, so I will volunteer at miscellaneous outreach programs here in San Francisco.

Getting to Know Denis

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

I am excited about the recent alternatives in computer science education. I wasn’t fond of how formal CS was taught, so seeing the programmer culture take up the problem into their own hands is very inspiring. I am talking about the numerous paid camps/workshops/express training programs such as DevBoot Camp, Hack Reactor, General Assembly and others.

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

Can’t say :)

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

I am excited to hear about heavily customized Spree deployments. I want to see a project and go “Wow, never thought Spree ran the backend for that”.

I would love for SpreeConf to invite more UX/UI specialists to share wisdom on studied user behavior, creating meaningful experiences, design basics for developers. I think this area of the development process does not ever receive enough necessary attention. I firmly believe UX will make or break most modern online companies and that goes for ecommerce as well.

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

I like to make the information I share very consumable. People should be able to improve their code/performance with some copy-pastable code right from my presentation. Everyone should be able to benefit. That is when I feel I have created value for technical atttendees.

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.

Favorite Moment from SpreeConf 2013?

I loved Adil’s presentation about growing and scaling an eCommerce business!

Come meet Denis and hear his talk about perfecting your e-commerce front end at SpreeConf, February 26th & 27th, New York City. Get your tickets now!

Get to Know SpreeConf NYC Speaker: Emmett Shine

Posted on January 16, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Earlier this week we introduced you to SpreeConf founders, Sean Schofield and Brian Quinn who will be talking about the future of Spree Commerce as well as Spree 2.2 Today we’d like to introduce you to Emmett Shine. Emmett is the Co-Founder and President of Gin Lane Media and will be speaking at SpreeConf about solving the platform puzzle.

Emmett Shine

Emmett Shine
Co-Founder and President Gin Lane Media

Emmett Shine, is the co-founder and President of Gin Lane. Gin Lane Media is a New York based firm that has done ecommerce design and development for some of retail’s top brands, including Bonobos, and Kate Spade Saturday. Outside of his position at Gin Lane, he owns a t-shirt line, LOLA New York, and is also an avid photographer and illustrator. He lives and works in New York City.

Getting to Know Emmett

We asked Emmett 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 really excited about more interactive elements and content for the front end experience of digital experiences, from video to interface elements. I’m also excited about more “connected” systems and stacks between different devices or silos of data (like a connected and intelligent user-experience for an at-home ecomm site to a users mobile device in a store speaking with physical devices and the POS).

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

Yes a few with clients – one of which we will be demoing a sneak peak at SpreeConf, and a few other internal proof-of-concepts that are pushing the envelope for interaction and connected systems.

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

Meeting other developers and business admins looking to thoughtfully push the envelope.

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

I want SpreeConf attendees to remember our thoughtful and helpful holistic approach to web – and how Spree empowers that.

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?

This was a nice recent article on what’s changed in design in the past year and what’s next, nothing too deep just a nice topline read. Also, 4D in-browser prototyping is interesting, I just subscribed to Benedict Evan’s nice newsletter, and I have been listening to a ton of Podcasts. Accidental Tech, 99% Invisible, The Talk Show with John Gruber, + Freakonomics, Stuff You Should Know and NPR: Planet Money are amongst my favorites.

Come meet Emmet and hear his team talk about their approach to ecommerce online at SpreeConf NYC, February 26th & 27th in New York City. Get your tickets now.

Join Us for Lightning Talks this SpreeConf

Posted on January 07, 2014 by Shannon Madlin

Last year’s SpreeConf DC Lightning Talks were much discussed after the conference. Between the highly entertaining, and informative, topics such as windows rails development and advancement in development tools, many attendees felt it was a good opportunity to discuss topics that were relevant to their community.

This year’s Lightning Talks, sponsored by Brightcove Zencoder, will include the same format as last time – 5 minutes to talk about anything you want (no topics are off limits) at the end of day 1 of SpreeConf. For those of you nervous about public speaking, this is a great opportunity to practice! And some liquid courage may be served as well!

Call for Speakers

Do you have an interesting project you’d like to share? Do you have a unique solution to a common problem and want everyone to know about it? This is your chance to showcase your work—it can even be unrelated to eCommerce. Submit your idea here. If your idea is selected, we’ll give you a $75 discount off of the SpreeConf registration fee as a thank you.

Register for a Lightning Talk session now.

See You at SpreeConf!

Don’t miss out on your chance to participate in a Lightning Talk at SpreeConf 2014! Tickets are selling fast. Just over 7 weeks to go!

About our Sponsor

Bright Cove

Brightcove Inc. (NASDAQ: BCOV), a leading global provider of cloud services for video, offers a family of products that revolutionize the way organizations deliver video experiences. The company’s products include Video Cloud, the market-leading online video platform and Zencoder, a leading cloud-based media processing service and HTML5 video player technology provider. Brightcove has more than 6,300 customers in over 70 countries that rely on Brightcove cloud content services to build and operate video experiences across PCs, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs.

SpreeConf 2014 Feb. 26-27 in NYC

Posted on December 11, 2013 by Sean Schofield

Today we’re pleased to announce the details of SpreeConf 2014 to be held in New York City on February 26-27, 2014. In keeping with our tradition of holding our events in unique venues, this conference we will be located in the SVA Theatre, which is conveniently located near the conference hotel and Penn Station.’

Learn from the Experts

Everyone knows that we have a world class community. Most of our work is done online but there are a ton of benefits to coming to SpreeConf and experiencing everything in person.

  • Learn About the Upcoming Spree 2.2 Release
  • Stay On Top of E-Commerce Trends
  • Learn About Other Technologies
  • Meet the Team Behind Spree
  • Meet Fellow Spree Developers and Designers
  • Meet Fellow Store Owners and Founders
  • Help Shape the Future Direction of Spree
  • Decide Whether Spree is Right for You
  • Find a New Job or Customer
  • Meet Interesting People and Be Inspired

Great Value

We have another great lineup of excellent speakers from both inside and outside of the Spree Community. There will be talks geared towards both developers and store owners.

The two day event includes:

  • A full day of training on Spree, Rails, and other topics
  • A second day of speakers from the e-commerce and Ruby space
  • Coffee, snacks, and lunch provided both days
  • Conference t-shirt
  • A happy hour and after party with the Spree Commerce team and conference speakers

Special Early Bird Pricing

We’re offering a special discount for folks who book their tickets early. The early bird conference registration rate is only $149. That’s a 50% discount off the regular ticket price of $299. SpreeConf DC sold out quickly so make sure to get your tickets early. The early bird rate expires December 31st, 2013.
Follow us on Twitter so you can be the first to know as additional details are announced.

Awesome Hotel

We’ve negotiated special rates for our guests at the Ace Hotel New York. If you’re planning on traveling to SpreeConf you should consider staying at the conference hotel which will give you the opportunity to have additional interactions with the Spree Commerce team, conference speakers and other guests. Hotel rates start at $199 which is a great value for any time of the year in NYC!

The Best Part of SpreeConf

We asked last year’s attendees to tell us what they liked best about SpreeConf. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “variety of speakers, friendliness of everyone, great atmosphere for sharing, good parties, great location.”
  • “Meeting the core team, hearing tidbits of the roadmap for the future, and sharing business experiences with other store owners/developers.”
  • “The theater setting was really fantastic! Great balance in talks, great lunch. Party locations were great! And organization was perfect!”
  • “I especially liked being able to speak directly to the core team regarding our project to get their advice and opinions on it.”
  • “I was impressed with the broad range of speakers. I gained something from just about every talk given at the conference. The venue seemed like a good fit and the availability of power outlets was a nice touch.”

Developer Spotlight - Dana Jones

Posted on June 17, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We’re kicking off our “Developer Spotlight” series with a feature on Spree open source contributor, Dana Jones. Dana began working with Spree a few months ago by contributing to the Spree Guides. Since then she’s made 45 commits to the Spree Guides and has become a well known member of the Spree community. I had the pleasure of meeting Dana in person at SpreeConf in May. Here’s a picture of the two of us on SpreeConf – Day 1. Dana is on the left.

How did you get started as a programmer?

My first interaction with web programming was a long time ago – around 2000. I was a new mother and a quilter at the time. Some of my quilting friends had trouble finding sites that were selling the particular quilting products they were looking for. So, I made a site that recommended where to find quilting materials. That site was written first in pure HTML, then later refactored into .NET/C#. In 2007, I wrote my first application in Ruby on Rails – a shopping cart for some of the quilt stores who were by then my advertising clients. I freelanced from then until 2011, working on a variety of projects, all in Rails. In 2011, I decided to take a break from programming and focused on trying to launch a new craft business called Hey Betty Studio, which failed spectacularly. I have four kids who generate a lot of expenses so in 2013 I decided to return to programming.

How did you find out about Spree?

Ryan Bigg introduced me to Spree when I came back from my hiatus. I had known him from the #rubyonrails IRC channel from years past. When I came back to the community, I asked him for suggestions of a small project to start making open-source contributions to. He mentioned Spree. Maybe next time, I should define “small” a little better.

Why did you decide to contribute to the Spree Guides?

Spree is an enormous project and it’s a lot to take in. I decided that working on the documentation for Spree was a good way to familiarize myself with the project. Early on in my career I used to work as a technical writer so I felt comfortable working with documentation and I see a lot of value in it. It was also a good way for me to build my resume on GitHub, learn some new tools, and get to know members of the Spree community.

Have you contributed to any Spree extensions?

I contributed to the spree_wishlist translations. The spree_wishlist extension allows store visitors to add a product to a wishlist that they can then review and purchase at a later time. The translation piece of the extension allows you to display the text in different languages. I contributed to the French translation for the wishlist.

This was just the beginning for me. I’m eager to make more non-documentation commits. I’m trying to figure out the best place to fit into the gem to make useful contributions, and have already made a few commits to Spree core.

You gave your first lightning talk at SpreeConf, correct?

Yes, some of the folks in the Spree IRC chat room talked me into it. I discussed the value of documentation and of learning software by documenting it for other people. I was nervous, but I’m really happy that I did it and can check that item off my list. The community was amazingly supportive and encouraging, which has been my experience of Spree users from the beginning.

What do you have planned next to continue improving your programming skills?

I try to spend at least one day a week just doing technical reading. It’s tough in this business of constant changes, but I think it’s important to keep up on trends and developments, plus to get fresh perspectives and ideas on solving coding problems. I’m also planning to continue moving Spree’s user documentation forward, which can only make me a better consumer of the code. There will always be new things to learn and try in software development, so at least I never have to worry about getting bored.

Look for more valuable contributions to the Spree project from Dana in the months to come. Check out her GitHub profile and follow her on Twitter.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Clarke Brunsdon

Posted on May 07, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, John Feminella who will be talking about about better, faster, smarter cloud deployments with Docker at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Clarke Brunsdon. Clarke is a Founding Partner and CTO at FreeRunning Technologies and will be speaking at SpreeConf with his colleague Gregor MacDougall about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree.

Clarke Brunsdon

Clarke Brunsdon

Founding Partner and CTO at FreeRunning Technologies
Clarke is a programmer with over 13 years experience with the last 5 primarily focused on working in Ruby and Rails. He founded FreeRunning Technologies in 2008 and focuses on how to provide the most value to his clients and making sure the technology fits their real-world business priorities. Clarke’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 Clarke

We asked Clarke 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?

The same things that excite me today are the same things that excited me about programming ten years ago, but we now do them so much better. For me, programming and technology have always been about putting awesome people with great ideas together, and seeing what we can build. Now we’ve got amazing tools like git/github, gerrit, rspec, bundler and Google+ hangouts that let us build and share ideas, collaborating with fantastic ease and efficiency.

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

We always joke at FreeRunning technologies about how much we “hate code.” Before we start any projects ourselves, we look to see if there are any other open source projects we can extend and improve upon, rather than starting a project ourselves. While we have created some Spree extensions that people might be interested in (spree-pre-order, spree-flexible-weight-rate, spree-license-key, spree-custom-store-email), there isn’t much for public repos I’d show people.

As far as ‘private’ projects go, we’re currently migrating a private company that currently manages the e-commerce of dozens of high-profile sites onto Spree. They’ve been an e-commerce provider for the last 6 years and have an incredible technological debt as well as entrenched business practices that is making the rollout very tricky, but so far very successful.

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

Face to face communication! We’re incredibly enthusiastic about the state of Spree and where its going, but that doesn’t always communicate well over IRC. I want to let all the Spree developers know now much we appreciate the project and that we want to do everything we can to help it grow and mature.

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

Our talk centers around doing a large scale store migration to Spree. I think the most important thing to remember is that tasks like this are never quick, and never easy. It’s very easy to convince yourself that it’s going to be easier and quicker than it is, and that’s a mistake you learn to stop making.

I want everyone to leave our talk looking at Spree is a living, breathing project. I want them to understand that the incredible features and platform it provides should not be taken lightly.

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

I’m personally a huge fan of the collected works of Tim Pope. He writes so many useful vim plugins and ruby gems, I’m unsure if he’s just one man or a front man for a group of programmers. The book that has changed the most about how I worked was Rapid Development by Steve McConnell, a book not about programming but about the ecosystem and environment of software development.

It’s hard to believe – there are less than two weeks until SpreeConf! Hurry and get your tickets now!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: John Feminella

Posted on May 02, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Denis Ivanov who will be talking about how to perfect your e-commerce front end at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to John Feminella. John is the Co-founder at UpHex and will be speaking at SpreeConf about better, faster, smarter cloud deployments with Docker.

John Feminella

John Feminella

Co-founder at UpHex
John is an avid technologist, occasional public speaker, and frequent instigator of assorted shenanigans. John recently co-founded UpHex, a startup providing predictive analytics and automated insights for e-commerce businesses. When he’s not knee-deep in solving challenging technology problems, he stays active in the local community, guest-lectures at the University of Virginia, and mentors budding entrepreneurs at HackCville.

Better, Faster, Smarter Cloud Deployments with Docker

When you deploy a modern web application to a cloud environment, you usually provide some kind of manifest that indicates what its application dependencies are — for example, in a Ruby on Rails app, you’d provide a Gemfile. But what if you have environment or configuration dependencies, like needing an SSL certificate or a reverse DNS entry? Then you need another manifest for a configuration management system, such as Chef or Puppet.

Pretty soon, it starts getting cumbersome to put all that together. What if there was a better way to wrap those two things into one neat package that made deployment easier? Enter Docker; although it’s still very much in beta, it’s worth taking a look now, because it’s one of the most interesting recent developments in cloud computing.

In his SpreeConf talk, John will discuss how Docker works, the vast array of potential applications it has, and walk through some example deployments. By the end, you’ll know enough to decide if Docker has a place in your own workflow, and hopefully be excited enough to start trying it out.

Getting to Know John

We asked John 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?

There are so many interesting trends that it’s hard to pick, so I hope you’ll forgive me for picking two.

First, the rise of “bring your own cloud” is fascinating because it brings things full circle relative to ten years ago, when the only “cloud” offering that was widely available was virtual private servers. Then virtual machines became more popular, as computing resources got denser. AWS promised automatic redundancy and easy scalability. But people didn’t like the devops work required to maintain their AWS instances, so Heroku came along.

Now, people have realized that Heroku and friends are just specialized cases of a larger, more interesting problem: the ability to completely isolate your web application and its dependencies from your operating system. What if you could essentially package up all your cloud instances like that, so that you could run them anywhere, on almost any cloud provider?

That’s part of what Docker lets us do, which is why I’m excited to talk about it at SpreeConf. It brings us back full circle to the flexibility and commoditization of the VPS days, where you’re just paying for bits, bandwidth, and CPU. But it gives us all the power and flexibility of the modern configuration management toolset. My prediction is that most web development will look like Docker instances by 2015 or so.

Second, I’m excited that the prediction I made two years ago, betting that Facebook would tumble from its top spot as part of a broader trend away from spending time on social networks and a growing awareness of privacy concerns, seems to be coming true. But with SOPA defeated and CISPA not quite dead as of this writing, there’s still a lot to worry about in the online world, and we owe it to ourselves to pay attention more closely than ever before.

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

I quit my job to work on UpHex, which I co-founded with a really smart colleague. We’re building an analytics health-monitoring service, akin to a New Relic for your data streams. Most analytics services do a poor job on two fronts, and we want to fix both of them.

First, they often don’t tell you when something interesting is happening. You have to go visit them to find out what’s happening. If they do provide alerts, you have to set up clumsy, coarse thresholds that don’t reflect the dynamic nature of an online business, so you get lots of false positives (or even worse, false negatives!). This is 2013; why are people settling for such antiquated ways of watching their business?

Second, if they have a dashboard, it’s usually a morass of confusing chartjunk that’s hard to interpret, even for experts. Is a downward blip in some metric alarming? Should you care about it? Is there anything you can do about it, and if so, what? Is this related to similar blips on your other metrics? All in all, it’s hard to get a good picture of where things stand by looking at a collection of graphs, so why aren’t we trying to make this easier to understand for everyone?

UpHex is going to solve these problems. We’re just starting out, but our research so far (we’ve talked to over 100 companies!) has yielded enough excited customers to convince us that this is a good idea. If you’re interested, you can sign up to stay abreast of things by going to the UpHex website. If you’re a business that sells things online, and if you can spare 15 minutes, we’d love to talk to you; drop us a line at hello@uphex.com.

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

I’m most excited to see how people use established technologies like Spree in new and interesting ways to help make e-commerce a better, smoother experience for everyone.

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

I hope the first thing they do after my talk is download Docker and start playing with it. However interesting my talk might be to people, it would never hold a candle to the experience of using Docker yourself.

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

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick

Tumblr: Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes

Everything is Amazing, and No One Is Happy by Louis CK

Come meet John and hear his talk about about better, faster, smarter cloud deployments with Docker at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. get your ticket now. Less than 3 weeks to go!

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!

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.

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 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.

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.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Eric Koester

Posted on March 28, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

On Tuesday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Chris Mar who will be discussing the new split shipments functionality that’s coming in Spree 2.0 at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Koester. Eric is the Founder of Zaarly and will be speaking at SpreeConf about capitalizing on the micro-prenuer revolution.

Eric Koester

Eric Koester

Founder at Zaarly
Eric Koester is a serial entrepreneur and most recently the founder of Zaarly, a leading online marketplace to discover and work with talented local service providers. Eric also serves on the board of directors of Startup Weekend and volunteers his time working with Steve Blank and others to teach and grow the NEXT entrepreneurial curriculum in more than 100 communities around the world in 2013. Eric is a well known writer and author, including the books Green Entrepreneur Handbook and What Every Engineer Should Know About Starting a High-Tech Business Venture, and was named one of the 40 Under 40 for Washington, DC in 2011 and the Tech Hire of the Year in 2010.

Capitalizing on the Micro-preneur Revolution

Entrepreneurship is hot. Perhaps it is the down economy, the popularization of the rich and famous rags to riches entrepreneurs, or maybe just a sense of wanting to “do your own thing”, but estimates predict that there are over 40 million members of the “freelance economy” – independent workers, contractors, small business owners or part-time workers. And an amazing opportunity has arisen as new companies rush to serve this new entrepreneurial class – from helping with website creation to accounting to billing to marketing – a new set of customers is coming online in need of help.

The team behind Zaarly spent months speaking with local entrepreneurs and small business owners to build a product to serve them better. The result was Storefronts, which were released in September 2012 as a tool for individuals, freelancers and small business owners to sell their services online. This exercise of speaking to this new class of entrepreneurs and hearing their thoughts about their lives, their businesses and the services they are using in their lives offered some fascinating insights into today’s new entrepreneurs. Eric will be speaking at SpreeConf about his learnings on what today’s entrepreneurs want and need as we build new tools to power this growing ecosystem.

Getting to Know Eric

We asked Eric to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the small business and entrepreneur communities and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The “Entrepreneur Next Door” trend is a really interesting one. What the 2008 financial crisis did was kick start many more individuals to go out and start their own thing – an Amazon or Etsy shop, a decorating company, a lawn care business, a catering company or any one of numerous “skill-based” businesses out there. And the result is that you’re seeing companies like Square, Zaarly, Etsy, Uber and dozens more emerge to support them. I anticipate seeing a real surge in local businesses with more and more consumers shunning the big-box stores to support local entrepreneurs.

The “Information Democratization” movement is something else I see really causing disruption. Any industry that runs on information asymmetry (with someone having information and someone else not), are ripe to be disrupted. That may mean pricing transparency in collectibles (eBay), busy-times for taxi rides (Uber), financial advising (Wealthfront) or dozens and dozens of more examples. I even love the Data.gov/Open Data initiative spearheaded by Todd Park – helping unlock all this valuable information for the general public. That may help create some really powerful tools for the general public. The term Big Data is overplayed, but the reality is that if done well we can start to put data to work for us to lead more efficient lives – which comes as we democratize information.

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

I’ve become really interested in what has happened to small business owners since the 2008 financial crisis. What many people aren’t talking about are the lingering effects of that crisis and the resulting regulations on small business banking and lending. Today, there is $100B less in loans being given out by banks to small business owners – a drop in nearly 20%. So as a result, I’ve teamed up with some people in the SBA’s Office of Advocacy to get out and start talking to hundreds of business owners to learn how they are dealing with this and what they need to succeed. If people know of small business owners (not startups, but businesses that are more traditional – not a fit for VC or angel funding), then I’d love to talk to them.

I testified twice before Congress about the JOBS Act – and was incredibly excited to see it pass. But now the rules are tied up at the Securities and Exchange Commission. This means that new rules around Crowdfunding and permitting advertising of fundraising are still on hold. It’s something we can’t forget and I’m continuing to find ways to put pressure on the SEC to move ahead.

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

Haha…to be totally honest, I’m most looking forward to people letting their hair down afterwards at the after-party at Lost Society.

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

It’s never been easier to “support your local economy”. If we would support our local small businesses and entrepreneurs the way that we support our NFL, MLB and NBA teams, we’d really be able to make a huge difference in our hometowns.

80% plus percent of people say they’d love to buy local, but less than a third actually do. This new micro-preneur revolution changes that – letting you support a business owner on a platform like Uber, a craftswoman on Etsy, a craftsman on CustomMade, a developer on Elance or a baker on Zaarly.

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

My wife picked up the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and “strongly encouraged” me to read it. I’m glad she did as it’s something everyone that cares about your industry should read – she nails it and offers some learnings that apply to a diverse thinking that men and women alike should read.

Come meet Eric and hear his talk about Capitalizing on the Micro-prenuer Revolution at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. The $199 early bird rate ends March 31st so register now and save!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Chris Mar

Posted on March 26, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last week we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Nick Gauthier who will be discussing how to put Rails 4 into Action at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. This week we’d like to introduce you to Chris Mar. Chris is one of the core team members at Spree and will be speaking at SpreeConf about the new split shipments functionality that’s coming in Spree 2.0.

Chris Mar

Chris Mar

Senior Software Engineer at Spree Commerce
Chris joined Spree Commerce as employee #1 and is a member of the Spree Core team. He joined Spree Commerce to be part of the vibrant Spree community and to contribute to making e-commerce fun and easy. He enjoys developing with Ruby and Objective-C. A startup guy at heart, he supports the Washington DC tech scene. He spends his free time playing with legos, snowboarding out west, shooting photos around the world and home brewing beer.

Fun with Shipments

One of the exciting new features that will be introduced in Spree 2.0 is split shipments. The Spree team has been hard at work the last couple of months developing sophisticated shipping and warehouse logic that will enable multiple shipment functionality for e-commerce store owners. Chris Mar has been leading the charge and will talk at SpreeConf about the details of the split shipments design and will discuss how you can customize the new split_shipments functionality to meet your store’s needs.

Getting to Know Chris

We asked Chris 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?

There is an object oriented renaissance in the Ruby on Rails community. People are moving away from the skinny controller/fat model pattern and extracting logic into objects. I love the testability of these objects and the clarity they can provide.

I hope this trend continues. On new features for Spree 2.0, I’ve been trying to extract logic into smaller objects and reduce the size of the God objects. Some of them are more than 600 lines!

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

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the way Spree builds shipments. Many stores have more than one warehouse or shipping rules based on size and weight. We are trying to create a customizable system to support small home based businesses all the way up to worldwide enterprises.

I’ll be covering the shipping changes in my talk at SpreeConf DC. I’ll be diving deep so developers will understand how to customize for their needs. Expect lots of great object diagrams and real world examples.

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

Spree was born in Washington, DC. It has a vibrant tech community. The city is wonderful to visit that time of year. There will be a lot of energy at the conference.

I’m really happy Adil Wali is coming back to SpreeConf. His talk was the highlight of last year’s SpreeConf in Dublin. His deep e-commerce experience is unmatched. Everyone will learn something new at his talk.

I expect this to be the largest SpreeConf yet. We are expecting developers from all over the world. It will be a great time to meet other members of the community and discuss the future of our favorite e-commerce project.

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

Spree is an important project and depends on community support. Thousands of stores are taking orders and making money every day. We are working hard to improve Spree while maintaining our tradition of flexibility. We can all work on this together.

We have almost 400 contributors on the project. This is a group effort. I hope everyone leaves energized and ready to roll up their sleeves and ready to dive into the project.

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

My favorite book from the past year is Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby by Sandi Metz. It distinguishes itself from most Ruby books which focus on Rails. We’ve relied on the MVC pattern for so long; we’ve forgotten our object oriented roots. You may know the concepts but she makes you see Ruby from an enlightened perspective.

Bonus! Sandi will be at SpreeConf DC. I recommend you read her book before the conference. Her talks are meticulous and packed full of great information.

Come meet Chris and hear his talk about Fun with Shipments at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. The $199 early bird rate ends March 31st so register now and save!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Nick Gauthier

Posted on March 21, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We are excited about our awesome lineup of speakers for SpreeConf DC taking place May 20th – 21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. To spread our enthusiasm, we are starting a new series called “Get To Know Our Speakers.” We’re kicking off the series today with SpreeConf speaker Nick Gauthier.

Nick Gauthier

Nick Gauthier

Co-Founder at Exobrain & B’More Awesome
Nick Gauthier is a web freelancer, consultant, and trainer specializing in Ruby on Rails and JavaScript. His experience spans from SQL to Sass and he always tests, all the time. He wrote Recipes with Backbone with Chris Strom and recently released his eBook Mobile Web Patterns with Backbone.js. Aside from freelancing Nick runs B’More Awesome, a Baltimore-based web training organization, and he also co-founded Exobrain, an online mind-mapping tool.

Rails 4 in Action

Nick will be speaking at SpreeConf DC about some of the ways he’s used the new features in Rails 4 to build applications efficiently with the latest web technology. Nick explains that Rails 4 introduces a bunch of really cool, new features: 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.

Getting to Know Nick

We asked Nick 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.

1) What trends are most exciting to you right now?
This may come as a surprise, but I’m currently very excited about design. It’s great to see so many new products being released with a focus on user interaction and not just a barrage of features. It’s really added a new challenge for web developers to meet the design goals of an application, because it’s generally a hybrid of front and back-end coding, and it’s always unique and interesting.

I’m glad Rails is doing such a great job supporting this new style with a two pronged attack of increased performance (caching and turbolinks/pjax) and excellent functionality as an api for client-side code. Front-end libraries like Backbone.js and Ember.js pick up where Rails leaves off when really custom interactions need to take place.

2) Any interesting projects you’re working on that others may be interested in?

Always! I’m currently working on Exobrain, which as mentioned earlier is a simple and focused mind-mapping application. I’m also working on a new web-based presentation application, but it doesn’t even have a name or url yet so I can’t share it :-(.

As part of working on client projects, I’m working on an easier and faster way of wireframing UX and transitioning to an implemented application with a gem called throwup (still in its early stages). As a support for the presentation application, I’ve been working in a lot of real-time systems, and part of that is a gem called tubesock (also in its early stages). Tubesock makes it easy to use websockets in Rails, and I wrote about it recently.

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

First and foremost, I’m looking forward to all the familiar faces from last year’s SpreeConf (and of course all the new faces!). I’m also always excited to see people in the Ruby on Rails community doing Real Stuff™, serving real users with real products, so I like to hear from people using Rails and Spree to support their business.

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

I hope they remember to always push the boundaries of current technology and to try to accomplish what has yet to be done, even if there isn’t a gem for it!

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

I’m currently reading The Design of Design by Frederick P. Brooks Jr., which is a book about the process of designing complex systems. Frederick Brooks has been designing complex architecture (computers, buildings, helicopters, and more) about 12 times longer than I have, so I’m learning a lot.

Come meet Nick and hear his talk on Rails 4 in Action at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. The $199 early bird rate ends March 31st so register now and save!

Ten Reasons You Can't Miss SpreeConf

Posted on March 19, 2013 by Sean Schofield

We’re really excited about SpreeConf DC and hope you are too. The two-day event takes 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 community. This will be our third conference and if you haven’t come to one yet, we’ve put together ten great reasons why you can’t afford to miss SpreeConf DC.

#1 Learn About Spree 2.0

SpreeConf is a chance to learn more about the new and exciting features that have been added to Spree. This year’s conference includes several talks focused on the new functionality included in Spree 2.0. The Spree team has been hard at work improving split shipments and adding new international features. Come and talk to the Spree team in person to find out how you can take advantage of the latest and greatest advancements in Spree.

#2 Stay On Top of E-Commerce Trends

E-commerce is one of the fastest growing industries in the global economy right now. Many e-commerce companies fail because they can’t execute quickly enough to beat their competition. SpreeConf speaker, Adil Wali, will share the lessons he learned about scaling multiple e-commerce businesses, including ModCloth, one of the fastest growing companies in the fashion industry. We’ll also hear from Eric Koester, founder at Zaarly, about how to capitalize on the micro-prenuer revolution by serving this class of “freelance entreprenuers” who are taking advantage of platforms such as Airbnb, Etsy, Kickstarter, and of course Zaarly.

#3 Learn About Other Technologies

SpreeConf obviously has a strong empahsis on e-commerce but it is also a chance to learn about the other important technologies that enable Spree (and the rest of the Web). For instance, this year we have a great talk from Nick Gauthier about how to put Rails 4 into action for your e-commerce application and an awesome session from Sandi Metz covering practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it.

#4 Meet the Team Behind Spree

This is an opportunity to meet the creator of Spree as well as the core team that maintains the project. If you are either currently using or contemplating using Spree for a project, you can’t afford to miss out on the chance to talk to the people that power the technology! Are you having difficulties with something in Spree? Do you have a feature request? Now’s your chance to tell us in person.

#5 Meet Fellow Spree Developers

In addtion to meeting the core team, the conference is a great opportunity to meet fellow developers in the community. You’ll be networking with other developers around the world who are also working on Spree projects and have the chance to compare notes. Previous SpreeConf attendees have included developers from Gucci, Chipotle and Blue Nile as well as various startups and developer shops.

#6 Meet Fellow Store Owners and Founders

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. Previous founders and owners who’ve attended SpreeConf include Makerbot, Birchbox, Sticker Mule and Github.

#7 Help Shape the Future Direction of Spree

SpreeConf is also a chance to discuss and debate the future direction of Spree. We use the conference as a chance to communicate our latest thinking about where the project is headed but it’s also an opportunity for you to lend your voice to the discussion.

#8 Decide Whether Spree is Right for You

If you’re a developer or store owner considering Spree, this is the perfect opportunity to evaluate the technology and our community up close. We have plenty of developers and owners who come to our conference that are currently using Magento or other e-commerce solutions. If you’re considering learning a new technology or making a big investment in a new e-commerce platform, you owe it to yourself to check Spree out up close and personal.

#9 Find a New Job or Customer

One of the main reasons to go to any technical conference is to look for a new job or to get new customers. SpreeConf is a great opportunity to hire someone onto your technical team or to find customers looking for professional services.

#10 Meet Interesting People and Be Inspired

Finally, conferences are all about the people. Whether your motivation is to learn or to conduct business, SpreeConf is the perfect opportunity to shake things up and travel somewhere new to meet some really cool and interesting people. We have a great online community but sometimes there is no substitute for meeting in person. When you get a large number of smart people together in one place it usually results in suprising and interesting benefits and amazing creativity. We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the schedule including lightning talks, a happy hour, and a SpreeConf after party.

SpreeConf DC Speaker Lineup Announced

Posted on March 06, 2013 by Sean Schofield

We are proud to announce the speaker lineup for SpreeConf DC taking place May 20th -21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. The two-day event, sponsored by Contegix, features training on Spree as well as presentations from e-commerce and Ruby on Rails thought leaders. Some of our speakers include:

Adil Wali

Adil Wali
Lessons from the Field: Scaling an eCommerce Business
Adil is a passionate entrepreneur and product visionary who loves the startup and high growth environment. He is a founder at Crowd Interactive and ModCloth and is currently the CEO at Kemists. Adil cares tremendously about user experience, product vision, and building ridiculously good teams.

Sandi Metz

Sandi Metz
Magic Tricks of Testing
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.

Eric Koester

Eric Koester
Capitalizing on the Micro-preneur Revolution
Eric is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Zaarly, a leading online marketplace to discover and work with talented local service providers. Eric is also the author of several books including the Green Entrepreneur Handbook and What Every Engineer Should Know About Starting a High-Tech Business Venture.

Nick Gauthier

Nick Gauthier
Rails 4 In Action
Nick is a web freelancer focusing on Ruby on Rails and JavaScript. He co-authored Recipes with Backbone with Chris Strom and also wrote Mobile Web Patterns with Backbone.js. Nick runs B’More Awesome, a Baltimore-based web training organization, and Exobrain, an online mind-mapping tool.

Sean Schofield

Sean Schofield
Spree 2.0 and Beyond
Sean is the creator 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 a member of the Apache Software Foundation as well as a committer on several popular Apache projects including Struts.

Brian Quinn

Brian Quinn
Introducing the Spree Integrator
Brian is an early contributor to Spree and was one of the first core team members. He’s been happily hacking on Spree for fun and profit since 2008 and is fanatical about all things open source. Brian officially came on board as the Spree CTO in May 2011.

See the full list of speakers and session topics at spreeconf.com.

Early Bird Promotion

We’re offering a special $199 early bird rate through March 31st. After March 31st the conference registration fee increases to $299. Our last U.S. SpreeConf in New York sold out quickly so act now and secure your spot at this amazing conference!

Register for SpreeConf 2013

Posted on February 20, 2013 by Sean Schofield

SpreeConf DC Registration Opens Today – Special Early Bird Rate

We’re excited to announce that registration for SpreeConf DC starts today. The conference will be held May 20th to 21st in Washington, DC. Keeping with tradition we’ve selected a unique venue for the conference, the Studio Theatre, Washington, DC’s premier location for contemporary theater. The conference hotel is located just a few blocks from the Studio Theatre and provides easy access to the National Mall and the White House.

The two day event includes:

  • A full day of training on Spree, Rails, and other topics
  • A second day of speakers from the e-commerce and Ruby space
  • Coffee, snacks, and lunch provided both days
  • Conference t-shirt
  • A board game night to welcome you to DC and meet fellow attendees
  • A happy hour and after party with the Spree team and conference speakers

Special Early Bird Price

We’re offering a special discount for folks who book their tickets early. The early bird conference registration rate is only $199. That’s a 30% discount off the regular ticket price of $299. SpreeConf NYC sold out quickly so make sure to get your tickets early. The early bird rate expires March 31st.

Full Speaker List and Talks to be Announced Shortly

We’re going to have another great lineup of excellent speakers from both inside and outside of the Spree Community. There will be talks geared towards both developers and store owners. Follow us on Twitter so you can be the first to know when the full line-up of speakers has been announced.

Customer Spotlight - Combat Gent

Posted on January 24, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

We’d like to introduce you to Combat Gent, a Los Angeles based startup in the fashion tech industry who uses Spree for their e-commerce site. Combat Gent is an online menswear brand that offers affordable suits, shirts, pants, shorts, ties, and accessories. They skip the wholesale middleman and deliver products directly to consumers. This direct access approach allows them to offer high quality products at very low prices. We sat down with Daniel James, a developer at Combat Gent, to learn more about their business model and how they leverage Spree to target their customers’ needs.

Where did the idea for Combat Gent come from?

Combat Gent was started by Vishaal Melwani, Mohit Melwani, and Tracy Kuroye. Vishaal’s family ran Versace franchises in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for 25 years. Vishaal also worked at a clothing production company for a small streetwear brand after graduating college. These experiences provided him a behind the scenes look at the clothing manufacturing process. He witnessed the large markups that occurred between products being manufactured in China and then eventually being sold in boutiques in L.A. This inspired Vishaal to start Combat Gent. He saw an opportunity to leverage his connections and knowledge of the fashion industry to create an affordable, high quality menswear fashion line. Vishaal pulled his cousin Mohit into the business to lead the marketing strategy and his friend Tracy to handle all of the backend logistics related to inventory and budgeting.

What does the name “Combat Gent” stand for?

“Combat Gent” stands for Combatant Gentleman. We wanted to express how the modern guy views himself in today’s ultra competitive workplace — ready for battle each day to fight their way to the top. We get really great feedback from our customers about the name. They say it’s exactly how they feel going into work each day.

What sets Combat Gent apart from your competitors?

It really comes down to our production approach, our previous experience in the fashion industry, and the quality of the product we deliver. Because of our existing relationships with the clothing factories we don’t have to work through a third party manufacturer to get our clothing produced. This helps eliminate a layer of markups. We also do a lot of the work in-house. We create our own patterns and cut and sew our own original samples. Having the factory create a prototype can be very expensive, so it saves us a lot of money by doing things in-house.

We also understand our demographic really well. We target guys who are just starting their careers or have been working for a few years and are looking for an affordable clothing option to appear professional and fashionable. These guys are struggling to get ahead and need clothes that are multi-purpose that they can get multiple wears out of. This means our clothing needs to be almost indestructible so we pre-shrink all of our clothing prior to cutting each piece so that if the item is thrown into the laundry instead of taken to the dry-cleaners that it will come out looking ok.

How do you market your products?

We’re a startup so we don’t have a lot of money for advertising. We’ve focused on utilizing social media and our blog to promote the Combat Gent brand and it’s going really well. We ran a really successful campaign on Facebook last fall. We offered the chance to win a free suit to anyone who “Liked” our Facebook page. We got over 10,000 new likes in less than three months.

What do you like most about the Spree platform?

It was really easy to get our Spree store up and running. The GitHub readme was straightforward which made things very simple to get started. I had a prototype version of our store running in only three to four hours. Besides all of the core features needed to create an e-commerce site, Spree also enables you to quickly incorporate additional features through the use of extensions. For example, I recently installed a gift card feature and had it working on our site in less than two hours.

I also love how Spree keeps up to date with the latest Rails patches. Whenever there is a security update I am notified immediately in my Spree app and the Spree team already has a fix for it. I’ll I have to do is update my Gemfile, run “bundle install”, then run the test to make sure nothing breaks and thats it! I am amazed at how easy it is to stay up to date with the latest patches.

And last but not least I love the Spree community. They are an active, knowledgeable, responsive, and so so so helpful group. Whether I receive a response from someone on the core team or just another helpful community member I know there is always someone there to help me.

How did you customize Spree for Combat Gent’s online store?

We created a matching feature for Combat Gent merchandise. If you find a shirt that you like on our site you can click “match” and we’ll show you ties and pants that go with it. You can then save these items together as an outfit in your account so if you only buy one of them now you can go back later and purchase the whole look. We also created a “wish list” feature that allows you to put items in your virtual Combat Gent closet and see what they look like together.

What’s next for Combat Gent?

We are planning to expand our target market and marketing efforts to business schools and colleges. We also want to expand to a premium denim line similar to 7 For All Mankind or Lucky Brand that would sell for under $50 per pair. The jeans would be designed and manufactured in Los Angeles and display a “Made in U.S.A.” tag.

Shop the Combat Gent website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Customer Spotlight - Jerky.com

Posted on January 10, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Today’s customer spotlight is Doug Iske, owner of Jerky.com. Jerky.com is an e-commerce site built on the Spree platform that you guessed it, sells jerky products online. Read below for Doug’s story, his tips for how to grow your business and how to make the most of the Spree platform.

Tell us about Jerky.com and why you started the company?

I have a long background working on niche focused ecommerce projects. I enjoy figuring out how to develop a successful business model for selling very targeted products online. Four years ago, my team and I were looking for a new project to work on. After looking closely at a handful of categories to go into, it was decided that Jerky seemed to be a no-brainer. We like jerky, it looks to be a fun category…so why not? Plus, we already had the domain Jerky.com, and it would make the perfect brand for the business. We then started our market research including what the competitive landscape looked like to determine who the players are in the space and what we thought they were doing well and what we could improve upon. Ultimately, we determined that we could really add value to people shopping online for Jerky and Meat Snacks and not just be another me-too site. We could make improvements in several areas including product selection and user experience. From that point on…we dove in head first.

What have you learned about how to successfully sell niche products online?

My experience has taught me that it is very important to be customer focused and analytics driven. We reviewed the Jerky.com sales data over a period of time and identified which products sold the most and were most profitable. This information helped us to determine how to expand into specific areas and where we needed improvements. We think its important to “keep a pulse” on these sorts of things and adapt appropriately. One important result from the first year led to us developing our own brand of jerky in the best selling and most profitable product categories. Now those products are our best selling products.

What marketing techniques have you found to be most effective?

We use a lot of the traditional marketing techniques such as PPC and SEO to find traffic. Identifying which keywords perform the best has helped us learn a lot about our customers and how to customize our marketing efforts. Another interesting source for generating new customers has been our beef jerky recipe blog. We turned the beef jerky recipes into a free eBook which we make available at four different jerky recipe sites. We send follow up emails to our eBook readers with information about how to make jerky. While most of these people are primarily interested in making their own jerky, we’ve found that over time they end up buying jerky products from us to supplement their supply. We’ve been using this technique for about a year and have found that it has been an effective way to build our customer base.

What is your most popular jerky product?

We try to continually add products to our selection that you won’t find at all of the usual places that sell Jerky. Our customers are looking for high quality products with unique flavors and jerky types. Specifically, Turkey jerky and all of the exotics are really popular. Where else can you get alligator, ostrich even kangaroo and bacon jerky?! Gift giving holidays are always very busy. We actually hand build all of our gift baskets from scratch and they present very well. We understand that gift givers really want to make an impression to their recipients and a hand built gift box conveys to our customers that “we spared no effort in making this gift for you.” We are pretty proud of that.

How did you find out about Spree?

In one of my previous business ventures we built our own e-commerce platform. We learned a lot about what worked, what didn’t, and what we would do different the next time. When it came time to put Jerky.com on a new platform, I didn’t want to spend a ton of time and money re-inventing the wheel. I wanted an e-commerce platform that had a very solid core that could be easily customized for my needs. Spree is exactly that. The basic functions of the cart are done very well without being unnecessarily complex while also allowing customization to be easy and clean. I have also become partial towards the Ruby on Rails framework, so it really ended up being a good fit. In my experience, the Ruby on Rails community is filled with some of the sharpest minds in the industry and they are very willing to help and share each other. Having the support of that community is a very valuable asset that can not be understated. All of this together made Spree an obvious choice.

What do you like most about the Spree platform?

The core shopping cart is really solid. My engineering team didn’t have to do a lot of customization work on the Jerky.com site to get it up and running. This allowed me to start making sales and profits fairly quickly. There are a lot of existing extensions and resources available to us which really helped streamline our development process.

What’s next on your Spree development road map?

We want to keep expanding our ecommerce business. One of our biggest projects is a multi-store platform. Our goal is to develop a platform where we can run unlimited storefronts from one backend. We’re leveraging our e-commerce experience and the flexibility of Spree to make sure we do this right. We’re also working on personalizing the merchandising experience for Jerky.com in order to customize the content to each of our customers interests. I hope to have more to share with you soon.

Shop the Jerky.com website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

SpreeConf Dublin Recap

Posted on September 05, 2012 by Sean Schofield

Now that we’re back and the jet lag is wearing off it’s time to do a proper wrap up of SpreeConf Dublin 2012. At our first conference in NYC we were suprised to see so many people from Europe show up and decided to host another one a little closer to home for our European users. Since Brian Quinn already lives in Ireland we decided to turn the tables and bring the conference to his native land!

What Went Right

  • Country – There is a pretty cool Ruby scene going on in Ireland and thanks to their incredible hospitality, I suspect there will be more events like this happening in Ireland in the future.
  • City – Great city that was really easy to get around in. Many people brought their spouses, children, etc. and they all had a good time while we were at the conference.
  • Venue – It was much easier having our second conference in a venue that is used to hosting conferences on a regular basis. Everyone seemed to enjoy the unique venue as well.
  • Speakers – We had another strong group of speakers at this conference. I thought the talks were even stronger than our last conference.
  • Pacing – The frequency and duration of breaks was optimized after our first conference. The schedule for this second conference was much better.
  • Variety of Talks – Just like our first conference, we included a variety of talks and included some highly engaging non-technical talks that everyone really enjoyed.
  • Food – The food was served on time and was actually pretty tasty. I’ve never had soup at a conference before and I was surprised we were able to get decent vegetarian options in Ireland.
  • Hotel – The hotel location was super convenient to sight seeing and restaurant options in Dublin. While it was not close to the conference facility it was possible to walk to the conference or take the free Klarna bus.
  • Lightning Talks – The lightning talks turned out to be much better than the hackathon we attempted at the last conference.
  • People – Like any good conference, the highlight was the awesome people who turned out for it. So many great people doing really interesting things with either Spree specifically or Ruby/JS in general.

What Went Wrong

Honestly, the conference went off pretty much without a hitch. I suppose if we tried really hard to come up with a list of “problems” we could name a few.

  • Screen Height – The screen in the front of the room was way too low and the bottom portion of the slides were hard to see for those sitting in the back. This was, however, somewhat mitigated by the screens on the sides of the room.
  • Ambient Noise – The chairs were super squeaky (but comfortable) and the door in the back of the room was extremely loud when opening and closing. On the first day there was also the occasional banging noise coming from the brewery complex. It was noticeable whenever the speaker was taking a long pause and only seemed to effect a few of the training sessions.
  • No Recording – We knew going into the conference that there would be no recording of the talks so this didn’t really come as a surprise. There is quite a bit of logistics (and money) involved in getting this done properly. We are likely to record all of the talks for the next conference if there is sufficient interest (now that we have a little more experience hosting a successful conference for our in-person guests.)

The Next Conference

There will definitely be more SpreeConfs! The second conference really built on the first one and we got a lot of great feedback from our guests. The next conference will most likely be back in the USA. We haven’t decided on a date or location but we’re strongly considering the Bay Area (since we haven’t been to the West Coast yet) as well as Washington DC (since that is where our company is located.) Suggestions and feedback are welcome!

The Slides

The speakers have made their slides available online and they’re available to everyone. Enjoy!

Day 1

Chris Mar – Build, Customize, Sell

Gregg Pollack – A Sip of CoffeeScript

M Scott Ford – Testing Spree Stores and Extensions

Nick Gauthier – Intro to Backbone.js

Day 2

Sean Schofield – The Spree Vision

Brian Quinn – Using Backbone JS with Spree

Erik Michaels-Ober – Cover your Code!

Ryan Bigg – How to be a Good Open Source Citizen

Daniel Honig – Enterprise Spree – Using Spree to build solutions for one of America’s largest brands

Adil Wali: Lessons from the Field: Scaling an eCommerce Business

Paul Campbell: Not available

Yehuda Katz: Eradicating Cruft

Best SpreeConf Ever

Posted on February 22, 2012 by Sean Schofield

Last week we held our first ever SpreeConf over a two day period in NYC. This was an important step for our project since conferences provide great feedback and energy for any open source movement. The conference gave us a chance to interact with other Spree developers and store owners. We also had a fair number of people attending who were there to evaluate Spree for their next project.

What Went Right

We were extremely pleased with the how the conference turned out. Here are some of the highlights as we saw them:

  • Turnout – Lots of people showed up (complete sell out)
  • Duration – Two days for the conference was justified
  • Great location – Guests stayed extra days and brought their significant others
  • Dedication – People traveled from far away countries to attend
  • Engagement – Attendees seemed engaged throughout the two days of talks
  • Training – Lots of 1.0 stuff that went beyond the README
  • Speakers – Awesome lineup of speakers so not a huge surprise
  • Keynote – Nerds love MakerBot!
  • Hotel – Great rooms and nice bars. Close to the venue.
  • Hackathon – Cool location. Great turnout. SpreeConf whiskey!
  • SWAG – Cool t-shirts from You Design It and free copy of Rails 3 in Action!
  • Positivity – No haters. Everyone was really positive even when there were snags.

What Went Wrong

There were a few small problems. Most of the issues were related to our choice of venue which is not typically used for hosting conferences. While the venue had significant advantages (such as zero cost) for the next conference will be going with a location that has professional conference facilities.

  • Temperature – The second day in particular was way too hot
  • Lunch – The caterer messed up the timing and portions
  • Party – Due to issues with the landlord the party was cut short and there was a problem accessing the elevator

The Slides

We promised to make the slides available after the conference. We have invited all of speakers to put their slides online and now we have a nearly complete list of those presentations below.

Day 1

Jeff Squires – Introducing Spree 1.0

Josh Kalderimis – (coming soon)

Brian Quinn – Spree Themes with Deface

Chris Mar – The 3 P’s Preferences, Payments and Promotions

Day 2

Sean Schofield – The Spree Road Map

Ryan Bigg – Rails Engines Lessons Learned

Jeff Casimir – Metrics Driven Rails Performance

Brian Quinn – Spree’s Hidden Gems

Wynn Netherland – A Spree Themer’s Toolkit

Neil Capel – The Recommendation Conundrum

Ryan McGeary – Just In Time Inventory with Spree

Scott Chacon – The Open Source Business

Bre Pettis – (coming soon)

Announcing Our First SpreeConf

Posted on November 01, 2011 by Sean Schofield

Today we’re pleased to announce our first ever SpreeConf to be held in New York City on February 15-16, 2012. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Spree and the other technologies that power it. We have a great lineup of speakers and a really incredible keynote speaker. There will also be a full day of training on Rails, jQuery, Coffee Script and Spree.

Conferences are the life blood of any open source project. They represent an invaluable opportunity for the developers and users of software to connect and help shape the future of the project. The conference will not be exclusively focused on Spree. Our goal was to do something that would be interesting for Spree users but also helpful to Rails developers in general. So there will be some general talks that may touch on Spree when applicable and there will be some Spree talks that will also introduce concepts that are applicable outside of Spree.

The price of the conference is only $99 and it includes a full day of training and a second day of talks. The space for training is limited so we encourage you to sign up now since we expect to fill up the training slots quickly. We’ve also made arrangements to get a special hotel rate with the Cooper Square Hotel which is located near the conference. For those traveling on a budget, you may be able to find something more affordable through our friends at Airbnb

RailsConf Discount for Spree Users

Posted on March 02, 2011 by Sean Schofield

Registration for RailsConf 2011 has already begun and if you’re a Rails developer (or a consumer of Rails technology) you should make plans to be there. This year’s conference is once again being held in Baltimore, MD which is one of my favorite U.S. cities and also quite easy to get to in terms of direct flights.

Rails Dog is a proud sponsor of the event and we’re pleased to announce a special promotional code to our community (20% off the regular price!) To qualify for this discount be sure to use the discount code rc11raild when registering.

The entire Rails Dog team will be there including several members of the Spree core team (myself included.) There will be a talk on the Spree Road Map for 2011 and a chance to meet us face to face and talk about e-commerce or whatever else is on your mind. Last year’s Spree talk was well attended and we compared notes with developers from other companies doing Spree work including: End Point, Dynamo and Pivotal Labs.

I still stand by my blog post two years ago which said there are many great reasons to go to RailsConf. I would add to this list that if you are someone who is considering using Spree, you might want to make the trip down and learn more about Spree and the larger Rails Community to which we belong.

We hope to see you all there in May!

Spree Birds of a Feather (BOF) at RailsConf

Posted on April 22, 2009 by Sean Schofield

The Spree BOF has now received an official time slot at RailsConf. This will be an informal “birds of a feather” talk about open source commerce using Spree. I will be leading a discussion in which I hope to learn more about how people are using Spree “in the wild.” We’ll also be soliciting your ideas and feedback on how we can make Spree better. Rumor has it that Sonny Cook from End Point will also be there. This will be an excellent opportunity for you to meet your fellow Spree users and developers. If you are planning on attending the conference please come by and meet some of the other community members.

2009 = The Year of Spree

Posted on January 02, 2009 by Sean Schofield

Well 2008 has come and gone and its been a good year for the Spree project. The project really started in March 2008. Prior to that it was known as Railscart and was just a rough starting point for something that I was experimenting with. In less then a year Spree has become a legitimate ecommerce platform used by hundreds of Rails developers around the world.

I expect great things from the Spree project in 2009. Several of last year’s major contributors remain active in the project and End Point (my employer) continues to bring in new Spree business. More paying Spree work means more great features for the rest of the community. Spree also continues to be adopted by developers outside of End Point which will lead to many more awesome contributions.

Currently there are two major efforts going on. The first is the order_refactor branch which represents some major changes to how orders are dealt with in the admin interface. The order screen is broken up into multiple tabs and we’re working towards supporting multiple payments and shipments for a single order. Eventually we be adding explicit support for multiple forms of payment (check, money order, coupons, etc.)

The second major refactoring going on is being led by Brian Quinn. Brian is doing a ton of work getting the i18n stuff working with Rails 2.2 (currently this support is being provided by the gloablite plugin.) This work is coming along nicely and Brian is in the final stages of getting all of our tests working again. I should also mention that Edmundo has been quite active as well with lots of patches and some interesting plugins for the Brazilian community.

In 2009 we will continue to emphasize compatibility with the latest Rails releases. That’s easier said then done, however, as Rails moves at a very rapid pace and makes many non trivial changes between releases. The Rails + Merb merger announcement came as a big shock to all of us but I think its a welcome development. We’ll obviously be supporting Rails 3 and beyond.

My open source roots trace back to Apache where inclusiveness and collaboration are the key to running a successful project. Its nice to see the Rails team be more open to alternate view points. This has been my philosophy for running the Spree project all along. If you compare the Spree project to other Rails commerce projects written by one or two people, I think the results speak for themselves.

We will also continue to put a high priority on supporting our localization features. Spree has a very large set of users outside of the U.S. and by accommodating these users we can spread the adoption of Spree and receive some great contributions in return. After the initial Rails 2.2 support is provided, I plan to add many rake tasks for making it easier to keep all of the translations up to date. It should soon be possible to issue simple rake tasks to identify missing content for translation or to jump start a new translation file.

There are also some exciting new features to look forward to in 2009. Full text search is one major feature that I think should be incorporated into the core. Edmundo already has an interesting extension and I look to expand upon this work. We’re also going to slick up the admin interface to make it look more polished. I’m also looking to create a fancy looking demo store to show off what Spree can do. This wouldn’t be part of the core, it would be a separate GitHub project that would also serve as a working example of how Spree can be customized for a specific set of needs. Please contact me if you’re handy with graphics and want to contribute some time and ideas.

Last year was a great start for Spree but this year will be the year the project comes into its own. We’ve got a great community in place and more people discovering the project each day. As the real world deployment base expands we will be getting exciting new features. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the project so far. Thank you for your ideas, feedback, support, bug reports and (most importantly) your code. I look forward to working together with you this year to make Spree a truly awesome commerce platform. Best of luck to everyone this year in your professional and personal endeavors.