iStrategyBlabs

Investigating Browersify: The Development Tool That Lets You Write Modular Code For Use In Browser

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A while back, the engineering team adopted AngularJS as the front end JavaScript framework of choice. Not every project we work on requires a framework like Angular, but when we need one — it’s where we go. This post, however isn’t about Angular itself — or why we chose it — it’s about how we manage the multitude of files associated with using such a framework. Every FED (front end developer) knows that simply using a separate script tag to include all files does not scale very well. Most take to simple concatenation, allowing them to use one js file for their app code. This also works, but can get out of hand and also forces you to either pollute the window namespace or create your own namespace in order to access various components outside of their respective files.

Our development team decided that a more modular approach was appropriate to solving this problem, so we turned to Browserify. Browserify brings node.js style require statements to the browser. We can write code that looks like this:

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// mainCtrl.js
(function(angular){

   module.exports = [‘$scope’, function($scope){
      $scope.theThings = [ ‘thing1’, ‘thing2’, ‘thing3’ ];
   }];

}(window.angular));

// fooCtrl.js
(function(angular){

   module.exports = [‘$scope’, function($scope){
      $scope.foo = ‘bar’;
   }];

}(window.angular));

// controllers.js
(function(angular){

   var controllers = {
      MainCtrl: require( ‘./mainCtrl’),
      FooCtrl: require(‘./fooCtrl’)
   };

   // a utility module to dynamically attach modules
   require( './moduleUtils' )
    .forModule( myApp.controllers' )
    .setType( 'controller' )
    .injectAll( controllers );
}(window.angular));

// finally in app.js
(function(angular){

   angular.module(‘myApp’, [
      ‘myApp.controllers’,
      ‘myApp.services’,
      // …. and so on
   ]);

}(window.angular));

Using a build system, we point Browserify to app.js and that’s it! Another benefit to using browserify is that many node modules are automatically compatible and can be used in the browser. At the end of the day, Browserify is the best tool for allowing us to handle code in different files and keeping it all modular.

AM/PM, Recap of Our First Digital PM Event

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Last week our Strategy team hosted AM/PM, our first ever coffee chat for digital Project Managers to discuss tools, tips, and challenges facing our community. We had a great turnout, with about thirty attendees from top DC agencies such as Viget, AKQA, and RepEquity. It was amazing to be around so many talented individuals, and hear their insights on project management tools, team structure, and project scope.

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With all of the meet-ups for designers and developers, it’s a rare treat for digital PM’s to have their own space to exchange ideas and foster relationships. We’re hoping that AM/PM can serve that purpose!

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Thanks to everyone that participated! With all the positive feedback we’ve received, we’re looking at hosting our second AM/PM chat later this summer. Stay tuned and join the conversation on the AM/PM twitter account!

 

 

iStrategyLabs Plus Ben & Jerry’s Equals Love At First Bite

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I scream, you scream, iStrategyLabs 3D prints a teeny tiny Ben & Jerry’s truck for free ice cream!

We’ve had our eyes on the Ben & Jerry’s Core Tour since we caught word that it was rolling through DC this month. We took the whole “core tour” thing as a personal sign from Ben & Jerry’s that we should invite them to our office, seeing that we’ve referred to the iStrategyLabs staff as the “Core Team” since its inception. We’re a pretty passionate group here in general. Our passion for ice cream is matched only by our passion for design, development, strategy, and creating exceedingly awesome stuff for great brands.

So, what are we going to to do to stand out amongst the hundreds of Twitter invitations begging you to come to this, that, or the other office for a taste of these fine flavors? A stop-motion video starring a 3D-printed miniature Ben & Jerry’s truck, of course:

3dprint

Demetri and Ryan begin the stop motion process.

Between this and our 2013 Ice Cream Social Infographic, I think you could safely refer to the iStrategyLabs Core Team as ice cream enthusiasts. We love visitors as much as we love ice cream (see The One Where Uber Delivered a Christmas Tree), so we cordially invite you to follow in the tiny truck’s tracks, and roll on up to Dupont Circle office (1630 Connecticut Ave. NW)  while we’re still here. We promise we’ll show you a fun time, and if you’re lucky there will even be 1-3 dogs in tow.

P.S. If your life’s priorities are inline with ours, apply to join the Core Team here.

[UPDATE] Well, that was fast (24 minutes to be exact):
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#IntroFriday Will Change Your Life, And Someone Else’s Too

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Perhaps it’s because I can toss a business card across the table with the accuracy of Peyton Manning that I often get asked to speak about the idea of “networking” or how to become a “super-connector.”  That said, the word “networking” often connotes the transactional, disingenuous side of relationship building. At the end of the day, one of the best ways to build & strengthen relationships is to provide selfless value to others. Here’s what you’re doing wrong and what you should be doing instead:

You are Doing it Wrong:  im-late-for-business-roller-blades The business card collecting, name-dropping, sales-driven types might be good at filling out a rolodex, but they’re too quick to ask for value (or simply to try and sell you something) instead of seeking to provide value (an idea, a connection, an opportunity, etc.). Too often are they demanding value in an email exchange (like calendar spamming), rather than simply creating it.

The Right Way: Many have written up great advice on this front, from the likes of Steve Blank on “How To Get Meetings With People Too Busy To See You” , and some even offer actionable recommendations and exercises such as James Altucher — who has a simple list of skills required to become a superconnector. The main message is to  provide real value to build real relationships. Here’s a dead simple way to get started: introduce two people you know to each other via email (two people who you know would both enjoy or find value in connecting with one another). Instead of #FollowFriday, let’s call this approach #IntroFriday.  Here’s an example:

Dan<>Kate

If you’re 100% confident that both parties will indeed be interested in meeting the other, then go ahead and let it rip. If you’re not, send them  individual notes to see if they would in fact be interested in the connection. Through practice, you will sharpen your radar and develop better intuition for future intros.

If you don’t have an intro to make, email someone you know and ask what types of intros would be beneficial to them (an investor? a designer? a plumber?), and remember it for the future. That’s it. I guarantee if you practice this, something positive will come from it… and sooner than you might think.

If it doesn’t, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.  :)

Breaking Down Video Production

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Video is on the rise; 52% of consumers said watching product videos made them more confident in online purchasing, but only 24% of national brands are using online video to market to consumers. Why the discrepancy?

It’s about what you don’t know as much as what you do. Mike Monteiro says that clients don’t know what you do, and it’s your fault. He’s right and this isn’t limited to web design. With the rising prevalence of videos on the Internet, there’s a lot more clients do not know and it simply scares companies off. Here are three things companies need to know about video production before kicking off:

Scope 

“I thought you just needed a camera.”

Companies are simply unaware of all the factors that go into making a video including cast, crew, and equipment. The crew includes a director and/or producer along with a director of photography and/or camera operator. Depending on the scope of the project, a two-man crew may suffice, but if there are actors and lots of equipment to move, a couple of production assistants may be needed. Equipment includes lights, cameras, lenses, tripods, and sound recording equipment, which can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars in assets. On top of everything, a video production team may need to rent more equipment for a specific shot. This is all reflected in the day rate.

Time

It’s generally true that the shorter the duration of a video is, the shorter the production time, but that doesn’t always translate. For one video, we scheduled a full three-day shoot with a video production company, ranging from 8-10 hour days. There were multiple locations and they shot hours of footage. We squeezed out about 20 seconds of video from it. It’s not that the footage was unusable, everything looked great. However, there are unforeseen circumstances such as weather and emergencies that require booking long hours as a precaution. Video isn’t just limited to time on the set, but extends to the editing room. It takes hours of editing to produce minutes of video, which includes color correcting, color grading, syncing audio and music. After the first cut is submitted for review, there’s a back and forth between the client and producer until the final product.

Cost

Video is a tangible product as you’re paying for the cast, the crew, the equipment, the editing, and all the time that goes into it. But it’s so much more. It can invoke an emotional response to a brand, demonstrate a product, or simply entertain. Industry standards price video at $1k- $20k per finish minute of edited video or animation, but no one can predict the response to the final product. That’s a risk we all take in every good endeavor, but it’s one worth taking.

tom shoot

Next Steps

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Companies with video production capabilities are happy to answer any questions you have especially if it’ll help the entire process, plus everyone will sleep better at night. And when you hire the right team for the job, trust them with that job.