An amazing year as part of Montréal's software community

As 2011 wraps up I look back in awe at all that has changed. A year ago I moved my business from Vancouver to Montréal and things have been steadily changing since I arrived. Really good things. When I arrived last year I knew only a few people in Montréal. One thing Montréal is great for is meetups. There are tons of software meetups, every night of the week! So I put my hiking shoes on and started going to a lot of events.

I took to the streets

For awhile I got involved with DevLab and for a few weeks I did Blitzweekend events. The former was great French practice for me, I learned all about git, and then I took that knowledge to Blitzweekend where I coded my first code release Drupal projects. Then I became an approved maintainer on Drupal.org. Progress!

I also connected with Montréal's Drupal association. The association has grown over the years and 2011 marks the start of the group as a registered society under Québec's non-profit system. We also planned out a Drupal Camp (and I learned a lot - not having done this sort of thing before). Some of us are discussing running an "actual camping" event in the summer. Would you like to help? Let me know.

A new company was born

This was also the year that I channeled all of this good energy into rebranding my company. From 2008-2010 I had run under the name "Granola Systems" which was registered in British Columbia. It is a suitably apt name for a company out west, but doesn't carry the same meaning in eastern North America. For much of 2011 I reverted back to billing as Ryan Weal until our incorporation documents were complete.

In the fourth quarter of 2011 I officially relaunched as Kafei Interactive Inc. / Kafei Interactif Inc. We're registered nationally, so as long as we're based in Canada we will always have the same name. In case you're wondering, kāfēi is how you say the word "coffee" ( 咖啡 ) in Chinese. We drink a lot of coffee at our studio.

We scaled up a bit

As I launched Kafei Interactive, the new business opened up to include many more people in our production process. It was really a huge step up that has been needing to happen for awhile.

This year we brought in many more people to our nimble shop. We had one person loading content on a couple projects, a translator, at least three types of designers, a database guru, a support guy. The list goes on. In total, there are probably about ten different people we work with now.

New invoicing system

To handle the increased capacity this year we opted for a new banking and invoicing arrangement. We now invoice with our time tracking system and clients can pay online. For clients who pay by credit card, you can now collect travel points with your card. We also started accepting Interac e-Transfers.

These changes reduced the number of trips to the bank and also has the advantage of taking the post man out of the equation for collecting payments. Canada Post was on strike for a few months this year. It was a frustrating experience.

We also began a new effort to quote more accurately on our projects. This one is tough, and it has certainly taken a bite from our paycheques in the past. Estimating software is hard to do is a pretty accurate statement. In the new year we will be linking our work orders with our invoices so clients will have a complete overview of all account activities.

Lastly on the infrastructure front, we maintained a brick and mortar office for most of the year. Though looking back it seems counter to all of the "virtualization" of our business practices. At the end of the year we decided to consolidate our shared apartment situation and our office into one private studio in the heart of Montréal. We're now located in central Villeray!

Our business has changed

This one was planned but it is always interesting to see how it plays out in real life. We took on a lot more coding this year. In fact, most of what we do now is strictly programming.

We also do brochure websites, theming, and internationalization of websites.

That is a pretty wide variety of stuff, which is why we use a narrow set of tools to get things done. The coding stuff is really enjoyable and we hope to be doing more and more of it in the future.

The great give

While taking on additional coding projects we started to release our work on drupal.org. This week I finally published a variety of modules which have been in development at different points in the year.

Unfortunately our module work has been focused on Drupal 6 because that is the API we were really "steeped" in and it had the body of supporting modules we needed for our clients. We plan on releasing D7 versions of anything we post on drupal.org, but much of it will come in the new year.

What's next for Kafei Interactive

The new year is all about Drupal 7 for us. We're full time coders, so if there is anything lacking in D7 we're equipped to take on those little bits and pieces. While we're at it we're going to push ourselves closer to the current development of Drupal... that is to say, we're also going to be chasing Drupal 8 but we will be using Drupal 7 for all projects until it is declared stable and meets our needs.