Off The Chain Grid
The countdown is on for the seventh (!) incarnation of our internal hackathon, Off The Grid (OTG) at NantHealth’s NaviNet offices in Belfast and Boston. This is when we get three days to go off the grid, be creative, and explore something other than our day-to-day work.
Off The Grid: The DetailsHere’s a quick rundown of overall process (as summed up by grown-ups):
"Everything changes and nothing remains still." Although he lived over 2500 years ago, the Ephesian philosopher Heraclitus could have been talking about today’s computing universe when he said this. Change can be hard to handle, especially with the relentless pace and the immense volume at which software is changing today. Working in software can be an exhilarating ride but being able to keep up with the waves of change is both a required skill and a seemingly intractable problem.
This is part one of a series of blog posts on the Core Principles of NaviNet Open.
Unlike the rigid forms and functions that are the fruits of other engineering disciplines, software is highly malleable. Agile, on-the-fly development methodologies, design patterns, implementation frameworks, and massive computational power allow software engineers to render ideas in ways that would be unthinkable in the non-virtual arts. But the points at which software connects to the real non-virtual world are far less fungible and forgiving.
The data model is one such point. Most software projects begin with a data model. Here, business meets software architecture. Software engineers must first assert that a business runs in a particular way, with well understood entities working together in specific ways. Then, they can create a robust information map of those entities and relationships. This map is the information over which the software logic computes and processes. If the map changes, the software loses its way and must be revised.
Less than two weeks into the New Year, a group of us from the NaviNet Open Product Research team had the opportunity to attend the HL7 FHIR Connectathon in Orlando, FL. The Connectathon was a prelude to the HL7 Working Group Meeting and Payer Summit, and it brought together developers and integrators from many different organizations with a goal to get connected using FHIR. As part of NantHealth, our NaviNet Open team sees FHIR as an important advancement to help stitch together clinical and administrative workflows, and the HL7 Connectathon was a great chance for our team to create something useful using FHIR. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to roll up my sleeves and write code, which is something I don’t get to do often in my role as a Solutions Architect. Here’s a few of my key observations from the experience.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post on Web Components, specifically the technologies that make them up. In this post, I’ll focus on Polymer and I recommend you read my previous post first if you aren't familiar with some of the concepts Web Components tries to introduce. This will help give you a sense of what Polymer can provide over standard Web Components. Now, back to Polymer, which I was recently able to get my hands dirty with when I was asked to develop the user interface (UI) for a Task Management System we were developing for NaviNet’s 2015 Customer Forum. This event is a great opportunity for our engineering team to show customers and prospects where we want to take NaviNet Open. It was also a great chance for me to test the water with the latest and greatest technologies like Polymer.
After completing two years of school towards a computer Science and math degree at Northeastern University, I needed to find a co-op position. So last July, I began working at NaviNet, now part of NantHealth, hired as one of five Engineering co-ops. I was excited to begin working at a company with a strong presence in healthcare technology, but more than a little nervous to start my first software engineering position. My overall hope was to gain knowledge and insight about the industry and career possibilities over the next six months. At NaviNet, I became a member of the Product Research team, where I researched and tried out many new and different technologies, discussed results of data analysis, helped implement some amazing ideas, and became a part of a group that wanted to make a difference in NaviNet.
There has been a lot of brouhaha in the software development community about Web Components and the huge potential applications with the modern web. At NaviNet, we have kept a very close eye on Web Components as we continuously evolve our user interface (UI). Both our UI and Research team have had hands on experience with Web Components and in particular the Polymer library , so we would like to share some of our experiences. In this first post of our two-part series on Web Components, we’ll cover:
This is part zero of a series of blog posts on the Core Principles of NaviNet Open.
The essential function of enterprise architecture is to serve as a bridge between the business and technology domains. This may sound like a lofty pursuit and the truth is enterprise architecture requires a deep and nuanced appreciation for the technologies, patterns, and trajectory of software development and IT infrastructure. It requires a broad, multidisciplinary perspective on the activities and analyses of the industry as well as its people. And it requires a well-developed intuitive capacity along with the brute force of logic and reason. Good enterprise architecture is a synthesis of both art and science.
Back in September I was fortunate to attend “The Lead Developer” conference in London alongside my fellow Patrick “The Engineering Manager” Walker. It was a same day trip, but it was well worth an early rise and slightly sleep deprived night. Billed as targeting technical people that lead and motivating teams, it seemed to fit perfectly with my role as Principal Software Engineer leading a small team of four (three Developers and a Senior QA Engineer). There were several main talks, each around 25-30 minutes, that included the captivating Dan North, as well as a number of 10-minute ‘lightening talks’ that provided a snapshot into an emerging technology. Beyond the talks, The Lead Developer even scheduled time for networking and lunch too! My personal goal for the day was to learn how other tech lead folks cope with the additional responsibilities bestowed upon them as they move from the developer role into team management. I was also keen to see what new technologies where being picked up by other companies and how others did their job whilst retaining an understanding of technical changes. Fortunately, the conference did provide me with three takeaways.