Helix Collab also offers granular configuration of merge request workflows that administrators can create and publish to their teams to closely manage code quality while offering their developers an efficient, light-weight process to follow.
Helix Collab is an enterprise-level SAAS platform for version-controlled file and asset management, project management, and code collaboration. Designed for development teams, Helix Collab supports multiple source code repositories and integrates with the Helix Versioning Engine.
Who uses Helix Collab?
Developers of two kinds:
- Dev teams managing their code in the cloud.
- Dev teams working in a centralized system (read: on-premises servers)
What problem needs to be solved?
Dev teams who keep their code in-house are stuck using products with no GUI or deeply inadequate GUI’s (unintuitive, hard to learn, partial-functioning).
These devs often choose work in the Command Line for editing and versioning code. But the teams struggle to review code with the same as ease and speed as those using the new breed of cloud tools.
What was the real problem?
- Tools that didn’t serve the teams’ workflows
- Arduous on-boarding for new developers
- Unhappy developers who couldn’t use the tools they preferred
- Avoidable mistakes and frustrations
- Eventual retention issues
The project goal: Create a code management and collaboration tool that serves both distributed and on-premises clients and that is so slick and easy to use, cloud devs will choose to use it!
The timeline: to get a MVP up within a year
This tight timeline meant overlapping steps of the process: Researching, dreaming up the ideal functionality, while also defining baseline of requirements and constraints. The team meets daily to hash out the big picture structures—it gets more granular as the product comes to light.
Data analysis and feedback
- Review customer feedback on legacy products
- Survey existing customers on their workflows and pain-points.
- Assess the competition: comparison to other parallel products.
Determine the optimum flows
- What is the ideal process for our users?
- How do developers want to review their code?
Mock-up basic screens
- Iterate quickly with daily feedback from team
- Build-out basic prototype for user testing
- A User Researcher
- A Product Manager
- UX Lead (that’s me)
- Two full-stack Developers
- A QA Developer (to keep us honest)
Roles in the platform
- A System Administrator has already configured a workflow that code reviews must follow.
- A Product Manager has created a Project and a new repo.
- Developers have been added as project team members.
Next steps: Test Demand
Demo and test this new product with developers and existing customers
Pattern and Component development
- Keeping the project scalable: Using Semantic UI as a base, we developed a library of custom patterns and reusable components for use across the application.
- Work broken down into features of stories to plan milestones for development team.
What was the outcome?
Success so far! Helix Collab (launched as Helix Team Hub) was designed, built, and launched on time. Feedback from the app in the wild is positive. Adoption rates are good, but more core features need to be added to move this young product to the top position.
What did we learn?
Process is everything. Discard waterfall methods for more agile approaches. Commitment to planning and documentation early on.
Your team has to be all on the same team. It seems obvious, but the balance between was is ideal and what is doable must stay in balance. OR else feelings…
No cowboys. Effective collaboration can’t happen when even one team member is compelled to be an army of one. Good ideas get silenced when the team space fails to let exploration happen.
Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Iterate fast and iterate often. Get the product into the wild as soon as possible. Find the right users for your beta.
When testing, talk to the right users. IT Admins do not equal developers.