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The VOD we built for the Scorsese exhibition back in 2016

Today is my last day at ACMI, after 11 years with the organisation, the last 4 in a web & software development role, with visitor services and ticketing experience beforehand.

I wanted to take the time to talk a little bit about working as a solo developer in a museum or cultural institution, some of the challenges, and techniques to make it work.

You probably shouldn’t hire a solo developer

My main observation over the past four years (the last nine months or so with an expanded team of now 4 developers), is that you probably shouldn’t have a solo developer in an organisation. As a solo developer, typically the role is to be part coder, part digital producer / project manager, and fill a wide range of informal technical roles to help make digital things happen. As a developer who knows the organisation, you can represent the organisation’s interests when dealing with digital agencies or contractors, and when there isn’t budget to hire other people to make bigger projects, you get to come up with inventive solutions to build it yourself, with no budget. …

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ACMI DevOps architecture diagram, drawn up by our CTO, Greg Turner, visualising the hosting and automation design built collaboratively with staff from ACMI’s renewal and ICT teams, and consultants from Cevo and Thoughtworks.

One of the big projects we’ve been working on this year has been to set up our hosting infrastructure and deployment pipeline for a suite of services we’re building for the museum renewal.

Historically, at ACMI, we’ve generally known our hosting requirements for most projects well in advance, so we’ve been able to get by with a fairly traditional relationship between web development and IT operations, whereby we clearly define what sort of production servers we’re going to need, what we’re going to be deploying onto those servers, and aside from upgrades, little changes to the running system.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the work getting us to simple, automated deployments from version control to on-premises servers using TeamCity and Octopus. Then, with our current website, we made our first efforts in exploring cloud hosting. …

About a month ago now, I attended Web Directions Code at Arts Centre Melbourne, which is described as a conference for JavaScript Developers and Front End Engineers, but I think anyone working across web technology stacks would get a lot out of it.


Andrew Serong

Code, games, museums, and cats.

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