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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!

Splitting the Spree Core

Posted on March 27, 2013 by Ryan Bigg

Coming in Spree 2.0 – Rearchitecting the Spree Core!

In my last post, I covered one of the features that will be going into Spree 2.0 – improved support for internationalization.

In this post, I’m going to cover a major rearchitecting of Spree, similar in size to the changes for Spree 1.0 (namespacing + cleanup), and Spree 1.2 when the auth component was removed and turned into spree_auth_devise.

In Spree 2.0, we’re splitting up the core component into three different pieces: Core, Frontend and Backend. This is due to a large number of requests from our users asking if they could just use the bare-essentials for Spree in one component.

Core

Core will contain the very basics of Spree; just enough to get going. This is what you would use if, for example, you only wanted the database structure of Spree and then to build your own frontend and backend on that. Core will also contain the Promo engine, which was used to manage promotions. This has been used by a lot of stores, and it makes sense to bake it right into Core, rather than having it out in its own separate module and then having it “hack” into Core.

Frontend

Frontend will contain the frontend of Spree; things like viewing products and the checkout process are contained within this module.

Backend

Backend will contain the admin functionality from Spree; things such as product data editing functions, taxons and promotion management.

The backend and frontend components also make use of the API component in order to perform some of their actions. You could also use the API to build a completely custom frontend for Spree, using a JavaScript framework such as
AngularJS or Ember, if you wanted. With the ability to pick just the Core and API components with Spree, this has never been easier.

We’ll be offering a lot more detail about splitting the Spree core and other new features included in Spree 2.0 at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Check out the full conference schedule. Register below to get the $199 early bird rate before it ends March 31st.

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!