Can PAIN be FUN?
Uh, that sounded bad. But yes, it can.
It is a beautiful Saturday in February, the sun is shining and there is already a hint in the air that spring is coming. Still, we are sitting in Tieto’s head office in Keilalahti developing a mobile app for TUSKA festival and enjoying ourselves. It’s obvious that enjoyment is the fun part, but where is the pain coming from? Well, Tuska is a Finnish word and it means “pain”. And what is TUSKA? It is the Finnish Metal Music festival which takes place between the end of June and beginning of July in Suvilahti, Helsinki.
Our customer, Eeka Mäkynen, CEO of Finnish Metal Events has given us rather free hands with this project. This year the desire was to emphasize not only the 20th anniversary of Tuska but also Finland’s centennial celebration. For these reasons you will see even more Finnish bands than usual in Tuska this year.
Tieto has been doing the Tuska app for quite many years with different team members each year, which is good as this gives many people a chance to feel and experience the TUSKA Camp. You could say that having the camp is nothing new, definitely it is not, but it is still fun. We get together for a weekend with plenty of food and drinks, listen to good music and most of all, we enjoy creating this app together.
In the past, the app was made as a native app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, as well as Sailfish, which most of us probably don’t even remember anymore. Last year we decided to jump into hybrid technology, and the app was created with Ionic (Cordova & Angular), instead. Naturally, the amount of work needed last year was rather significant as the entire codebase needed to be re-written. This year, we are continuing to work with Ionic, updating the look and feel, doing some improvements as well as some new functionality.
During the few years I have been a part of this app implementation, my role has been mainly to keep the team satisfied by making sure that food and drinks do not run out. This is a natural role for me as the Head of the Digital Services unit from which the team hails. Is it natural for me to play “soccer mom” for the team? No. I only mean that I am so far away from the technical implementation that the team wouldn’t want me anywhere near the code itself. Although, to be fair, I did create band descriptions two years ago!
But this year, this weekend… things changed. This has been even more fun this time around, but also a bit scary. Our dearest designer Jari decided to come down with the flu and was bedridden with hot drinks and painkillers. So, we were lacking a designer. There was no other option than for me to jump into those big boots (maybe size 44?).
This was the point when I actually realized the importance of good design and customer experience when implementing an app. Of course I understood that earlier, but now it was my baby under analysis. Every person has his or her own opinion on what is good design. It is easy to say that this would look better or this would be easier to use according to one’s own ideas. Poor designers! Now I know how you must feel! Developers, your code is definitely important, don’t get me wrong. But it is something that end users can‘t see or feel, maybe in the future also smell and taste. No matter how lousy your code is, it’s the design that will get the complaints.
But I had so much fun! I was giggling and enjoying myself in a way I never thought I could! And the feeling when I got an SMS from Jari saying that in principle the layout is good- What? Did this just happen? It almost brought tears to my eyes. Luckily Jari is well enough today to finalize the design so I can write this blog and order some Nepalese food instead.
Meanwhile, the magic is happening next to me. These four developers — the fantastic four, heh — are bringing this to life. It’s not Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben with the ability to become invisible or to set one’s self on fire. It is Liisa, Toni, Jaakko and Ahmed making the magic using their Angular abilities and those tricks are definitely within their control.
We did not yet finalize the app during this camp, but that only means that we can have another one! The app will be available at the end of May or in the beginning of June, so there is still plenty of time for me to learn new things, as well. And this is the holy grail at heart of my team — to learn something new every day and have fun while doing it!
TUSKA Victims 2017:
Toni Lehtinen Lead Developer
Jari Kalliomäki Design
Liisa Duerig-Laitinen Developer
Jaakko Hämäläinen Developer
Ahmed Mansour Developer
Nina Kähönen Catering