Mango Solutions

The Challenge

The challenges on this project were many. The requirement included rich reporting, a flexible project structure combined with advanced data management, simple UI with good UX and advanced data analytics. The application needed to provide a clean rapid workflow for clinical scientists to accurately gather, import, map to significant vectors, manage and then report on the data.

Being able to share projects files between colleagues and teams vastly speeds up their work when testing new compounds. The reports also have to follow strict guidelines provided by organisations like the FDA which required a validation process for the application producing the reports.

At the core of the application is a Non-Compartmental-Analysis process that is used to analyse plasma concentration levels over time during clinical drug trials. Being able to accurately produce and manage these kinds of reports is key to a scientists work.

The decision to use .NET and WPF had already been made by the client, then based on our experience and recommendation they tasked us with helping on the project.

Our Solution

Some of the key higher level decisions had already been made which lead to our engagement. The requirement was a modern .NET application using then very new WPF UI framework. Since we had prior experience building and releasing these kinds of applications we were able to provide a lot of guidance.

The solution involved building a modular composited application using the Prism framework. All data management and presentation elements were implemented using .NET. Whereas all the analysis would be handled by integrating R with .NET in order to take advantage of a great tool and their own in-house R experts.

The Prism framework allows for great opportunities for abstracting logic into discreet modules both speeding up development and providing a great programming model. It also improves testability as well as maintainability of the code base and logically separates units of functionality into a service based eco-system.

Whilst we provided guidance on the architecture and technology decisions we also provided mentoring to their own internal developers to aid them in delivering the final solution. We also authored all the build configurations and the final WiX deployment system for installation.

Solution Specifics

.NET, WPF, Infragistics, R, WiX, VS2010, Jenkins, NUnit, Moq, MSBuild, PRISM, SVN

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Greens Models Limited

The Challenge

Greens Models was an entirely new business selling high quality model radio controlled kits, spares and associated products and services. Since this was all a very new experience for them they required a lot of help and guidance from us.

What they did know is that they needed an e-commerce solution to perform as their digital shop front on the web. It had to be clear and concise, easy to navigate and easy to manage. It also had to make the products centre stage whilst also promoting their USP. Ease and speed of management for the products was a very important factor. For this particular project it is conceivable there will be thousands of products and product variations. That isn’t a trivial business function for e-commerce.

Over the last few years the model market has become an almost exclusively price competitive market to the point where web retailers make little effort to differentiate themselves from the competition based on anything else. The market has changed massively in the last 30 years and it seems many have relied on long term reputations but are now suffering decline. Since the products are generic across retailers there is ample room for a good retailer that will also support customers, just like your high street model shop once did.

Our Solution

Once we had gathered all the information, ideas and requirements from the client we started to evaluate the various options that are available. There are two over-arching decisions to make here, you can decide to go self-hosted or you can opt for a hosted service. The two differ a lot in terms of management overhead from a technical perspective and depending on the business model involved can make a huge difference in financial costs and costs in terms of effort to manage.

Given the criteria on this particular shop we recommended that the client go with a fully hosted solution. This was based on a number of reasons. The business model suited this, the ease of use for the client and the much shallower learning curve and the increased simplicity of the solution.

Another factor we considered was performance. Solutions like Magento can handle vast catalogues of products (as can many platforms to be fair) but for an inexperienced and new small business Magento would also be too complex. Wordpress and associated products also work very well but you have to have the hosting horsepower to really keep on top of the UX. By opting for a hosted solution you also benefit from a vast infrastructure powering your site along with CDN (Content Delivery Network) features.

The solution we opted for in this instance was Shopify. The package made sense, included everything that we required and was in-line with their business model. Shopify also includes complete SSL coverage of the site for secure transactions. Not only to secure the site and customer data but to aid in gaining another bit of good SEO as well. Shopify is also backed by a huge CDN which has many benefits.

The Shopify templating engine means that HTML is rendered on the server rather than the client but also benefits from having a lot of processing power in the back-end database. This is a very important factor when you are dealing with vast numbers of products in a database.

Once we had completed all the design work we also fully documented our solution with an easy to follow guide on how to access all accounts and instructions on how to use the system.

Whilst we cannot document every feature in detail, it is designed to get a complete novice up-to-speed with their solution in the shortest possible time. We don't deploy and desist!

The client is extremely happy with the final results which is always a pleasure to hear and we wish them all the luck in their new venture.

We have followed up with them a number of times now and the business is thriving with quarterly turnovers in year 1 that are remarkable given the sector. Anyone experienced in e-commerce will appreciate that to be turning a profit within year 1 is a huge achievement to be proud of. We were very happy to be an important cog in their wheels.

Solution Specifics

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Photoshop, Shopify

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Japan Tobacco International

The Challenge

We were asked to provide the technical solution to power the newly designed Hamlet Cigars web site. We were working alongside their digital design studio One Darnley Road based in London. They provided all the assets and we provided everything else.

The site was designed to showcase the brand by including all their famous historical television and radio advertisements.

Our Solution

The client required a back end solution comprised of all necessary components and integration. The key components included:

Since they operated their own hosting environment using Microsoft technologies we built all the components making use of the latest Microsoft technologies.

The web portion of the solution made use of Microsofts MVC 5 framework built on top of .NET 4.5. That was hooked up to a Microsoft SQL Server database for data and customer identity persistence. The web framework used the Entity Framework as an ORM to access the database using a Code First approach.

The solution had to also fall in-line with very strict tobacco advertising legislation which exercises controls over how tobacco products are advertised in the UK. In order to comply with these regulations access to the site is restricted by age. In order to perform these checks we integrated the site with ID3 Global lookup services using XML based web services. These services allow consumers to check the provided name and date of birth information in order to perform electoral role checks to confirm the viewer meets the regulations.

We also provided all the support to the end client IT system administrators to perform security audits on the solution prior to deployment. We also then provided all post deployment support until the solution was pushed through into production.

Solution Specifics

Microsoft MVC 5, Entity Framework, SQL Server, ID3 Global, jQuery, JavaScript, Git

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