zuLIVE

zuLive is home to musings from the zuCrew, photos, and generally anything that interests us. Don’t expect anything too polished, this is where we let it all out.

Reflections on Prairie Dev Con 2015

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Prairie Dev Con logoBack at the beginning of June, three of zu’s web developers and I had the opportunity to attend this year’s edition of Prairie Dev Con in Regina. Prairie Dev Con is one of the few tech conferences that makes a regular stop in Saskatchewan, drawing attendees and speakers from across the prairie provinces and beyond. In fact, our own Cory Jacobsen gave a session on “Simplicity: The Power of Boring Technologies”, which he’ll be addressing soon in an upcoming blog post. Like many conferences, Prairie Dev Con sessions range from very focused technical talks to presentations on the “soft” aspects of software development, such as professional growth, company culture, and team building. With four of us attending, we were able to cover a good range of topics over the two days of the conference.

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Why Conferences Matter: Lessons Learned at JSConf US 2015

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As an outsider looking in, it can be hard to understand why someone would want to attend a conference - hanging out with 599 nerds for three days for $XXX (or $X,XXX)? Maybe not appealing upfront, but drawing from my recent experience at JSConf, I’d like to provide reasons for why I think conferences matter, and why you and the people close to you should be attending them.​

JSConf 2015 banner

The highlights:

  • Conferences build community
  • They are rejuvenating
  • They are a great place to learn
  • Most importantly, they are a great place to get excited about your craft

They build community

Talking to your peers about common issues and triumphs is cathartic. I had a moment on the final day of the conference, while sitting with a table full of web developers, where I had to say out loud: “It feels so

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What to Expect at MoSo 2015

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zu’s Design Director, Zach Perkins, on CTV Morning today to discuss the speaker lineup at MoSo2015.

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zurgermania is Back!

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MoSo is celebrating its fifth year, and zu is back to host the zurgermania MoSo BBQ Party on Thursday, June 18, 5pm. Between a day of conference sessions and a night of shows on Broadway, make a pit stop at Cosmo Senior’s Centre (beside the Hose & Hydrant). We’ll have a burger bar with an array of wacky toppings and ice cold refreshments FREE for the first 125 MoSo passholders through the door. But it gets better: games, door prizes, networking -  and nothing is complete without an accompanying outdoor beer gardens featuring DJ Albert and DJ Larrington. See you there!

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MoSo 2015: Business on Top, Party in the Back

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MoSo Conference and Festival is just around the corner (June 18/19) and we hope everyone is ready for it, or at least fully understands the process. It’s quite the tale of two parties, and it can be difficult for people to get their heads around the concept. MoSo (it stands for MObile & SOcial, but really encompasses so much more) is a digital conference during the day and an indie music festival at night. You can either purchase a conference pass that automatically gets you into both the conference and the music festival, or buy a pass for the music portion only. There is some crossover during the event, and you will see some bands playing in venues scattered throughout the day, as well as some speaking events going into the early evening.

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Here’s a quick breakdown of 2015 must-sees:...

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Set Your Front-End Free with Headless Drupal

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A couple of weeks ago, I was able to jet down to Los Angeles with a few of my esteemed colleagues to soak up some sun, and more importantly, some beautiful Drupal knowledge. We went down with empty brains and high spirits, excited to take in everything Drupal that we could. One of the big topics this year was the concept of a ‘headless’ CMS, more specifically and obviously in this case, “Headless Drupal*”.

* Note: this idea of a headless system can apply to any CMS with the capability of making content accessible through a web-services API. I’ll be talking specifically about Drupal in this case.

So What Is It?

Drupal is a highly functional, customizable, modular, and community-driven CMS. It’s safe, secure, and has the ability to manage large volumes of content. Its

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DrupalCon 2015: A Drupal Beginner’s Perspective

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I recently had the opportunity to attend DrupalCon 2015 in Los Angeles along with two other web developers from zu. DrupalCon is a conference that brings together thousands of people from across the globe who use, develop, design, and support Drupal. Drupal is open source software developed and maintained by a community of over 1,000,000 users and developers. The main purpose of the conference is to unite in celebration to gain new skills, new friends, and advance the Drupal project.

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Highlights

The first day of the conference was dedicated to all-day workshops on specific topics. The one I chose to attend was “Behavior-Driven Development with Behat,” a workshop aimed to help web developers get started with the process of behavior-driven development (BDD) in PHP, using the Behat

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Top Takeaways From UX Intensive: Brooklyn

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We laughed, we cried, we wireframed. What a week it was in downtown Brooklyn, at Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive workshop, working through four jam packed days with 70 UX practitioners from around the world.

The days were split into 4 streams: Design Strategy, Research, Service Design and finally, Interaction Design. Each course was led by a different member of the Adaptive Path team, while the others helped teams along the way. We have quite a few key takeaways from these workshops. Some are being implemented into our overall process at zu, while others are on the horizon. Here are our Top 8 Takeaways:

1. New practical approaches to user research

You are not your user. This theme was repeated often, and thus we were taught several methods of collecting feedback from users. While most

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Some inspiration from UX Week 2014

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This year I was lucky enough to attend UX Week 2014 in San Francisco. So what does two full days of listening to inspirational speakers combined with two days of great workshops equal? An extremely tired but motivated designer. In a quick summary I will take you through my journey at a user experience conference.

Designing for people

The main event began on Tuesday with a flurry of amazing speakers.

Amanda Dameron from Dwell started things off by reminding us that good design, no matter the discipline, needs to be applied to all humankind. “Designs must think about users based on strengths not weaknesses”. Amanda went on to introduce Michael Graves, a well-known architect. After becoming paralyzed, it not only changed Michael’s life but also changed his design approach and practice,

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CIRI 2014: Three Takeaways for Digital Investor Relations

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DrupalCon Austin: Conference Roundup

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As part of zu’s strategic plan, Ryan and Tony believe in supporting the professional development of our employees, so a large investment is being made in training in our technologies of focus. I recently had the good fortune of attending DrupalCon 2014 in Austin, Texas, along with two other web developers from our team, as we continue to broaden our use of the Drupal framework. The Conference was a great opportunity for zu keep our ear to the ground with Drupal 8, learn more about what other organizations and agencies are doing with Drupal, and experience the Drupal community up close and personal. Here’s a summary of our conference experience and some takeaways web developers using Drupal, or evaluating Drupal as a framework for web development.

Symfony for Drupal 8

Taking advantage

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PotashCorp Talks Integrated Reporting at CIRI 2014

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The CIRI 2014 Conference wrapped up on Tuesday with a couple of panel discussions on technology and integrated reporting. zu took in both sessions and we were especially proud to see Denita Stann, Vice President, Investor and Public Relations at PotashCorp, share the company’s experience on adopting integrated reporting. We caught up with Denita after her session to discuss how technology and the launch of the Integrated Reporting Center has aligned with PotashCorp’s vision for stakeholder inclusiveness.

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Zurgermania: June 12 at MoSo Conference & Festival, Saskatoon, SK

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Come by for a burger and some beats!
Put some beats on that burger!

After a long day of sessions and before a longer night of music, stop by Kinsmen Hall in Saskatoon. Not only will you be able to unwind for a bit, but there will be plenty of “refreshments” on hand and an amazing BBQ Burger Bar.

These burgers aren’t for the feint of heart. If you want choice, you got it. How about a burger bar with more toppings than you can shake your etch a sketch at? In addition to the regular toppings, try real bacon bits, banana pepper, funky sauces, maple syrup, pickled carrots, asparagus, avocado slices, red pepper slides, sprouts, hummus, sun dried tomatoes, buffalo sauce, aoli, marshmallows or potato chips. There will even be a few more surprise toppings. And what would a BBQ without some other action? We’ve got Corn Hole, Ping

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Ladies Learning Code in yxe

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​Web development can be an intimidating prospect. When Marli Bells, Web Developer at zu, and Brittany Melnyk, UofS Computer Sciences, first attended university, they had no interest in computer sciences. After taking an introductory class they fell in love with it and started down a path to becoming computer programmers. Now, Marli and Brittany are heading up efforts to bring that same experience to women throughout the Saskatoon community through their third Ladies Learning Code event.

Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit that works to empower everyone to feel comfortable learning beginner-level technical skills in a social, collaborative way. So far, Marli and Brittany have hosted events on HTML/CSS basics as well as mobile and responsive website design, and now the third event

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Improving Experience Through Stories

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A few weeks ago, Derek Leverington (MPATH Engagement) and I gave a talk at Innovation Place in Saskatoon about User Experience. The audience of over 60 people was broad so we kept the session high-level. Our goal was to use this talk as a catalyst to get companies to start thinking about their overall customer experiences, both offline and online. We touched upon the ‘power of stories’ as part of your brand experience, but we weren’t able to expand on this due to the limited time that we had. So here’s a bit more:

“The power of stories” is the concept that having deep knowledge surrounding about an experience, a company or an item makes everything about it a little bit better. It’s about sharing that thing that makes something unique. Think of a pair of hockey pucks. They look the same,

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