As we’ve been getting started with development at our new company I have taken the opportunity to re-evaluate developer tools and workflow. At Hyperpublic I had the chance to try a lot of the tools that emerged as part of “make everything a cloud service” trend that was sweeping the late 2008-2010 era. I have stuck with many of the old stalwarts – Github (source code hosting), Pivotal Tracker (feature and bug tracking), Dropbox (files haring) – however one welcome new addition to the workflow is HipChat.

HipChat is a private group chat client developed by Atlassian, the company who brought us Jira (ticket tracking) and Confluence (information collaboration). It runs natively as an Adobe Air application, and there’s a browser based UI for search and history should you need to access a piece of information on the go. It supports multiple rooms for group chat, one on one private chat, file and link sharing, and has a useful API for integrating with other services in the workflow.

A nice benefit of integrating our other services with HipChat is the activity stream that is produced which helps everybody observe progress. When code is pushed to Github, a new pull request is issued, new comments are left, new stories are created, Chef finishes running, integration tests fail….everybody is kept up to date on progress in a way that isn’t obtrusive and doesn’t clog the inbox. I’ve noticed an increase in engagement with code reviews and an increased commitment to our intended workflow – both huge benefits. If you’re looking for a team alternative to Campfire, IRC, or even iChat I’d recommend checking out HipChat.

* Hat tip to our team member Jamie for bringing HipChat to the team.

Intuit + Mint made my life surprisingly easier


When Intuit purchased Mint I was pretty worried that one of the most useful web apps was going to stop evolving and gradually get absorbed into the Quicken/TurboTax behemoth. So far, to my surprise, the opposite has happened. Mint has continued to evolve, has rolled out new and useful features, and has continued to make tracking my finances enjoyable instead of burdensome.

Last night I sat down to file my ’09 taxes, and used TurboTax’s online edition. It was impossible not to feel the Mint influence. First of all, the process was interspersed with Mint ads that didn’t exactly feel like ads. Instead they felt like favors. In typical Mint fashion everything was posed as money-saving offers, ranging from tax deductions to IRA contribution offers. Not once did this seem annoying, and instead, it opened my eyes to money saving opportunities. Well done.

The second way that I felt the Mint influence was with regard to the automatic importing of tax documents and tax information. I’m not sure whether the Mint team influenced this (functionally or design wise) within TurboTax, however the process was very Mint like. Instead of entering my W2 and 1099 information tediously by hand like I’ve had to do in the past with other online tax tools, I could simply enter my online bank credentials and TurboTax magically pulled in all the data within seconds. Major time saver.

Big ups to Intuit for taking the ball and running with it. Hopefully the Mint team stays in tact and Intuit looks to it for product guidance going forward on TurboTax, Quicken, and its other products.