Readers of this article are going to get a look at how a global company with many developers working on multiple code bases actually works. We’ll talk about which tools we use, the processes and services we have under the hood and what’s next for us. Those with a technical background will be able to compare your own tech stack, and those without will get a window in to how things are created at Fern Software. Let’s jump in!
At the center of everything we do is GitHub. We’ve been a customer for many years and since Microsoft acquired GitHub in 2018 our experience there has only improved. Our developers and product managers are in constant communication with each other using GitHub Issues and Projects to plan work and review code changes through pull requests.
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We build many applications and addons which we encourage you to explore. Almost all of our applications are based on Microsoft .NET with the only exception being our latest product, Baytree, being built on Salesforce. Way back in 2001, our company founder was at a technology conference where someone handed him a CD that contained the .NET 1.0 beta framework on it. At that point we were using Microsoft FoxPro to create our products; since our developers got hold of .NET there was no looking back.
Internally a lot of different aspects of the Microsoft stack are currently in production. We’re proud of the products we’ve delivered to satisfied customers using Microsoft frameworks, here’s a quick list of the specific products we use:
- Visual Studio 2019
- Visual Studio Code
- Visual Studio for Mac
- .NET Core 3.1
- ASP.NET Core
- Entity Framework Core
- WPF (FaaSBank)
- Xamarin (Mobile Apps)
We have many web applications as well. For example our latest addon, the FaaSBank Portal combines server-side technology as described above combined of course with our favorite client side libraries. If you look hard enough, you’ll notice that all Fern Software web applications share a underlying design language and the secret to that success is a web design framework called Semantic-UI. It’s a competitor to Bootstrap that offers a different and arguably more descriptive naming scheme. I wish more web developers knew about it!
Remote work solutions
Just a few years ago everyone at Fern Software was using a mixture of collaboration tools: Skype, email and GotoMeeting. We left Skype because it didn’t feel right for us. We tend to do a lot of impromptu voice chats, recently have been upgraded to video because everyone is working remotely. Skype wasn’t a tool for developers and we needed something more tailored to our problems.
After attending Microsoft Build 2019 it was hard to ignore Microsoft Teams. In fact, Microsoft was so focused on solutions for developers working remotely it was the clear choice. Using Microsoft Teams enables us to have historical text conversations which easily transition in to video conferences with many people and enables developers to share their screen to get help from others or just show off an elegant solution to a problem 😍.
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As we look forward, there’s a few things coming from Microsoft that represent a major change in how we operate. In my opinion on the biggest changes in the future will be the computers we use on a daily basis. Already, many of you have move on from desktop computers. Personally the next time I’m shopping for a computer (currently using a Lenovo Yoga) I’ll be looking at something lightweight and even a tablet (with a keyboard) is the front runner. With tools from Microsoft and GitHub, specifically GitHub Codespaces, we’ll be able to turn any device capable of running a modern web browser in to a developer machine.
We’re patiently waiting for .NET 5 as that represents the merging and re-working of .NET Core. We’ll be powering all our web services using this framework and we’re excited to see it mature. Finally, since we’re building Baytree on Salesforce, we’re also evolving with their Lightning Platform for development, writing Apex code and HTML components using Visual Studio Code.
I hope you enjoyed hearing what powered Fern Software… software. If you’re ever interested in what a website was built with, try the Chrome extension builtwith to uncover their secrets!