Hackney Re-Platforming Weeknotes – week ending: 2019-11-29

Weeknotes are a way for us to keep people informed about progress on the project. Given the technical nature of the re-platforming work we will use them to explain technical choices that we are making, including the benefit and impact of these choices. 

Project goals

  • Enable housing officers to use MaT offline when there are mobile coverage blackspots
  • Enable Hackney to decommission Outsystems, saving £80,000 per year
  • Enable Hackney to support, develop and deploy future improvements to MaT more quickly, at lower cost

Sprint goals:

The goals for Sprint 2 were to:

  1. Finish putting everything in place to deploy code we’re working on. We’ll do this by setting up the cloud infrastructure and updating the pipeline. 
  2. Be able to demo how Tenancy and Household Check will work offline in a browser. We’ll do this by:
  • Rebuilding some of the process steps in React
  • Putting in place a simple API layer to demonstrate that we’re getting data out at the right points

Good things

We released the first few React components we have been working on. We have been focusing on the components we know we’ll need to implement the Tenancy & Household Check, and have made some progress, balancing completeness against delivering what we need. Those components, along with the whole of our new “data driven front end” for will be reusable for other HackIT services in future.

We continue to work well together as a team. Meetings are productive and we are able to make decisions together quickly when needed. When needed people are reviewing and responding to each other’s pull requests quickly. And having code-owners assigned has meant that the back-end work is now more visible than before. 

Extra development support. Bukky has joined the team to help with backend development. The plan is for him to focus on defects work, to help keep this off the plate of Mirela and Liudvikas. And elsewhere there is a new React developer who is supporting Hackney on another project which also uses React. This means that we can share responsibility for React-ifying the Hackney pattern library, which will hopefully help us go faster.  

Learned things

We’ve found a way to speed up the process of react-ifying the Hackney pattern library. This task was more time consuming than we had anticipated, because of the way the original GOV.UK patterns (which we inherit from Hackney’s pattern library) are designed. We have agreed on a way to speed this up and will document and areas where we think related work may need to be done in future. 

Difficulties

This has been a challenging sprint with a few setbacks. This has meant that we haven’t made as much progress as we wanted to. We have reflected on these issues as a team, and we feel that there are some changes we can make which will keep the project on track. This includes streamlining our approach to React-ifying the pattern library (see above), pairing together on code reviews (to minimise the back-and-forth), and making sure we have a solid handover plan in place for when the DXW contract ends and HackIT developers continue to work on Manage a Tenancy.

Making some technical decisions later than we could have. We came to a technical architecture decision about how to implement the React components that we could have done sooner. This has had a knock-on effect on our ability to deliver everything we wanted to this sprint. 

We need to plan carefully about handing over the new front-end work we’ve been building. At the moment it’s not completely clear who in HackIT will be upskilled on this work before DXW leaves but we’re in discussions about it and hope to have some clarity next sprint.

Team handovers got in the way of backend work. Shweta’s departure meant we had to spend time handing things over. This – coupled with scheduled leave – got in the way of setting up the cloud infrastructure and pipeline. This will continue as we onboard Bukky to take over some of the defects work, but hopefully we’ll see a net benefit to feature work.

Writing comprehensive documentation is time consuming, especially when it’s not clear who the audience is. As a result of the uncertainty on who will pick up the front end work after DXW leaves  we are writing very comprehensive documentation to allow anyone to pick up the project. Getting feedback on this documentation will help us understand which parts are most / least useful, so that we can prioritise accordingly. We have asked Emma Lewis (as a proxy for whoever will take over this work) to spend some time at the beginning of the new year using the tools we have built, with enough time for us to iron out the documentation, and make any changes needed.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – Bukky, Chris, David, F, Gill, Liudvikas, Lorraine, Mirela, Richard and Shweta.  

What’s next

Next week we will:

  • Continue adding components to the React component library.
  • Finish setting up cloud infrastructure and pipeline.
  • Continue building Tenancy and Household Check – we’ll be focusing on the ID & Residency and Review & Submit steps, along with the start and end pages for offline syncing.

The following people will be working on the project:

  • Bukky
  • Chris
  • David (except Monday)
  • F (except Monday)
  • Gill
  • Lorraine
  • Mirela 
  • Richard (except Monday and Tuesday)

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