Fork me on GitHub

Radiodan v1 Retrospective

08 Jan 2014 by Andrew Nicolaou

After finishing up Radiodan v1, and just in time for Christmas, Dan and I got together to have a retrospective on the first part of the project from a technical perspective. We wanted to get an idea of what went well, what could have been better and what we’d do differently. This will help us plan Radiodan v2.


  • Using Ruby, everyone familiar
  • Get something up quickly
  • No-one worked on the same thing: so we did cold start, buttons, servers, products - very impressive
  • Faye is good being used everywhere
  • Logging is good and it’s easy to add logging


  • Have to understand Event Machine
  • Missing out on UI-type things available for Javascript (e.g. loads of easing functions for LED animation)
  • Using Javascript difficult because callbacks are difficult to test
  • Everything (mostly) runs as a single process
  • No-one worked on the same thing: working on the same thing is fun and the outcomes might be better?
  • Lack of tests mean lack of confidence about if things works
  • Error states and error handling not explicit (e.g. missing file causes uncatchable exception)


  • Perceived performance (updating web UI when you interact with it)
  • Actual performance (running loads of Ruby interpreters)
  • Need to be careful about how we implement internal messaging so it’s obvious

Recommendations for future versions

  • Everything needs to be testable and have running tests
  • Everyone needs to follow common development practices
  • Keep “spikes/bodges” small and focussed and quickly turn into sustainable code
  • Latency/CPU load is going to be a big issue
  • More experimentation on the physical side of things – possibly all working together in focussed groups e.g. created X box prototypes, Y apps
  • Clear, readable documentation from the outset
  • Everything should be automated
  • Loosely coupled, message based
  • Keep working in the open
  • Make it polished
  • Bring in UX expertise to understand users and make it polished