The One Week Product Build: Made Possible by Microsoft Tech

8 March 2018 | Stephen Paterson | About a 5 minute read
Tags: Azure Cloud, C#, dev, DevOps, Entity Frameworks, machine learning, microsoft, net, react, SQLServer, Visual Studio

Here at AND, we provide our clients with three main services – Guide, Build, and Teach. Our Build offering gives our clients the ability to get new products off the ground rapidly by allowing them to quickly ramp up their development capacity and capability, as well as provide a flexible augmentation to any existing development capability.

The real challenge is supporting a wide variety of technologies – not everything is built on Java, JavaScript, React, Vue and Angular! We’re seeing more and more companies benefit from the simplicity and scalability of Microsoft tech – everything from .NET and C# to Azure Cloud. So we decided to challenge ourselves. With Microsoft .NET/C# capability spread across our Clubs, we wanted to see what we could build in one week. We wanted to build something extraordinary. So we did.


Week 0 – the vision

MS Falcon – Product vision from AND Digital on Vimeo.


It all started with the product – we needed this to be something challenging, yet of demonstrable value. This couldn’t be an abstract product.

We settled on fast food delivery – something we all have experience of, something we can all relate to.

Using AND Digital’s tried testing product management techniques, we put ourselves in the shoes of a fast food delivery company, and worked up a product vision board to make sure our idea created real value – both business and customer value. Here’s what we came up with:

“The fastest and easiest way to discover new food”

With the product vision decided, a seed team of three developers set to work spending a couple of days creating the environments and pipeline within Github, and our own Azure Cloud. So far, so good, so simple.

Week 1 – the build

To really make things hard for ourselves, we decided to incorporate the build into our current crop of new recruits’ Bootcamp. This meant two of our experienced Product Developers (who helped craft the product vision) taking a hands-on Product Owner role and leading a team of 7 others – a lead developer, two product analysts, two front-end devs and two back-end devs.

Don’t just take my word for it though. Ina and Joe, our developers explain their experience with the Microsoft Stack:

“Coming from a full-stack .NET/C# dev role, I also have experienced technologies ranging from Java and Javascript to PHP with KnockoutJS and AngularJS. So when I had to setup a project from scratch in .NET/C# for this, once again, .NET/C# proved to be the quickest and easiest tech stack to get up and running, particularly on utilising Azure Cloud.

“Having done the environment setup for the project beforehand and later on being a Product Owner for the project, gave me a different aspect – no time was wasted solving environment issues. It was a latest tech project that had to be delivered in 1 week by a new team, so having the right technologies from .NET/C# and Azure at hand meant we could focus on coding and innovation.

Integrating best practices like CI/CD pipeline, test coverage and fully working separate environments were not an issue. Azure and Visual Studio Services offered all of this in literally a few clicks, while also allowing us to configure to the level of detail we needed.

One thing that really impressed us was the .NET/C# and Azure products’ reliability and scalability. Whenever we needed a service running or stopping, handling authorisation, or even DNS, these actions were very easy to manage via the Azure portal.

This meant that, on top of our MVP, we had the time and ability to introduce the initial steps towards machine learning. Now that we’ve got the base setup for our behaviour-driven app, whenever we start spotting the need for more resources, we wouldn’t need to worry about scaling SQL or introducing more web apps hosting our code – all of this is handled again via Azure Portal.

We can even do it from the shell as and when we need to. And the fact that React and NodeJS apps can be hosted just as well on Azure, we had more room to expand and go as wild on the front-end as we wanted to.

Without using the .NET/C# stack and Azure, we wouldn’t have been as successful in delivering a latest tech app, all running, and hosted, with the solid groundwork done within a week.”

The result?

  1. A fully functional application built as a fully containerised microservice
  2. Back-end built entirely on a .NET Core/C# code base on MS SQL Server
  3. Coupled React and NodeJS front-end with fully Microsoft server-side technology
  4. Use of Entity Frameworks Core
  5. Hosted on the Azure Cloud
  6. Fully automated continuous integration and deployment
  7. With almost 100% test coverage
  8. Laid the foundations of a machine learning personalisation algorithm
  9. 3 tier CI environment  – local dev, test and prod
  10. All of this in a week!

Week 2 – …well…nothing

The product is built. We had highs and lows along the way, and we’re working to take all of those learnings into our development, both as a company and in our expertise with the Microsoft technology stack. We have built a training pack to help our engineers that may have less experience with Microsoft technology to really get up to speed quickly.

But what about you? Hopefully this has piqued your interest in what you can achieve with the right technology behind you. If you want to take a look at our product and understand how we did it and how the AND Digital approach can help your organisation, please do get in touch: Contact Us.

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