There’s a lot of wonderful things that can be said about the industry I work in, and today I’d like to focus on just one of them; the rapid adoption of new tools (read: toys). A couple of weeks ago I watched a tutorial on Ryan Bates’ Railscasts, in which he demonstrated adding incoming-mail functionality to a rails-application using a ruby gem called ‘Mailman’. At the time, I filed it mentally in my “interesting, but do I have a use for it” category not really expecting to think about it again.
Only a week later, and I found myself working here at NetEngine, home of the excellent Trigger team productivity management application. I noticed an outstanding task “T2463 Allow task creation by email” filed under the Trigger : Development project (yes, we use Trigger internally for everything we do) and got the green light to put this new tool to the test. I’ve been working on the new email features now for around a week, and I can report that they’ve come a long way.
User’s are now presented with new buttons to create tasks (above) and task updates (below).
Nice, but probably the sort of thing that only our heaviest power-users are ever likely to appreciate. Then I built the instructions into the emails themselves. Practical, and helpful, I think. Finally, I added the ability to update a task by replying directly to application-generated notifications, which should make things a lot simpler for mobile users.
And there it is, the thing I love so much about web development. Just one week into a new agency, one week into work on our flagship product and I’ve been able to make my own little stamp on it. It’s the kind of thing that would have been impossible in traditional working environements, using traditional non-agile practices, using the kinds of tools that I hope never to touch again.
Many thanks to Jonathan Rudenberg for creating the Mailman gem. For those who are interested, I’ve also written a much more technically-focussed article on Mailman on my personal blog, DanSowter.com.