All posts by Jonas Vonlanthen

Gaining confidence through a clear vision

Following our vision – no matter the issues – is what brings us confidence to continue to move forward. In travel as in projects.

As you might have read in my first blogpost on the topic, preparing our departure in sabbatical was already quite a challenge with multiple highs and lows. Yet the adventure was just about to start.

A sweet start

Our first stop – backpacking Sri Lanka for about a month – felt quite similar to a good, well-earned holiday. Nice weather, very friendly Sri Lankans and absolutely tasty (and spicy) food combined with fabulous landscapes and beaches made it very comfortable to kickstart our trip. In fact, it felt very similar to the early phases of a new innovative project, as we enter into the 5S of the design process, brainstorm through new ideas and define the product strategy.

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Learnings from my sabbatical: the need to let go

A year in sabbatical taught me many things, about life, family and culture, and also about work. We went through different steps, just like during an innovation project. For me, remaining a beaming Liiper goes hand in hand with a beaming private and family life. This resulted in following our family dream, leaving everything else behind. For a while.

When I joined Liip in 2010, as one of the first “Romand”, I had the task to expand Liip’s activities to west (french speaking) Switzerland, with the great challenge of opening a new office and creating a new team there. New horizons, new persons, an avidity for advancing towards the unknown… the perfect challenge for the entrepreneur-type-of-me :)

After a challenge, follows another

Fast forward a few years later – mid 2015 – the Lausanne office counts 20 Liipers and runs well – mostly without my help anymore. This is surely due to our efforts to bring the company into self-management, added to the fantastic team of Lausanne Liipers that joined me in our everlasting commitment to build the best products for our clients.

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Coworking in the ThinkSpace: not only about coffee machine sharing, but also real experiences

Yesterday night, Liip Lausanne officially launched its ThinkSpace at 4 Rue Etraz. The party was organised by the Liip Team but intended for the startups hosted in the coworking space. We wanted to offer them all an occasion to celebrate and invite their partners and friends to visit their new workplace.
The opening party was also an opportunity for the Lausanne Liipers and the coworkers to meet outside of the rush of the daily business.

Did you say collaboration?
Collaboration has always been very important for Liipers. At the very beginning already, when we arrived in Lausanne 5 years ago, we shared an office with our friends from :ratio. As we grew bigger, it has been necessary to enjoy extra space. However the desire to share desks with other digital startups remained. As we moved to the Rue Etraz, it was possible to secure 2 floors: the ThinkSpace could be set up!

The ThinkSpace is a collaboration floor, specially dedicated to startups and SMEs active in the digital world. The project started in a blast: in November, the first coworkers moved in as the last renovations were being done! Today, as we officially celebrated its opening, we discover that our space is nearly full! :)

Only about sharing a coffee machine?
The ThinkSpace is not only about saying ‘hello-how are you?’ over the coffee machine (even though we love Tawipay’s delicious capuccinos) it’s also about sharing ideas and experiences. It’s not only the Liipers and the startups who benefit from the exchanges, but also our clients! With synergies we are more efficient and do not hesitate to recommend our coworkers when needed. Who has heard about the love story between one of our client Salines Suisses and Mondays.ch? We developped the Sel des Alpes website for them while Mondays is now in charge of their community management.
Aside from Tawipay and Mondays.ch, you might cross folks from cool companies Skioo, Supertext and Zip.ch who currently cowork in the ThinkSpace as well.

And next, a ThinkSpace in Bern
We are so enthusiastic about our experience in Lausanne, that we wish to pursue it in our new office in Bern, opening in April at Schmiedenplatz 5, very near from the Zytglogge tower. Also be prepared, it will be about sharing knowledge and experiences, and the opening party will be grand as well

Thank you all, Liipers and dear coworkers, for you support! An exciting future lies ahead of us ;-)

Let’s celebrate our new Lausanne office!

After 4 years and a growth from 3 to 20 people, our beloved offices in Rue de Bourg 11 were really getting small. We were lucky to find another awesome place downtown : we moved into a two-level office totalizing 800 square meters at Rue Etraz 4, which should leave us enough space to quietly continue growing without worrying about space for a while.

As you know (and maybe can remember our last party on June 10th 2011 in Lausanne), each move comes with its housewarming party and we would be thrilled to have you with us to celebrate! It will happen on

Thursday 17th September 2015 – starting at 4PM

A nice programme has been put together to entertain you until late in the night. Carlos (UEFA) and Daniel (FREITAG) will share their innovative web visions with us. You’ll enjoy great food (Veganopolis and La Ferme Vaudoise) and drinks (including the famous Liip Mojito) while listening to the music of the band Les Marcheurs as well as DJs Mandrax and SL.

All Liip friends, partners and of course our beloved clients are welcome to join with their family (there will even be a kids corner on the site).

Just a small request : it would be nice to inform us of your presence by filling up the form as it will help our organizing team.

Liip Lausanne Office

Liip with a distinction at “Le Meilleur du Web 2011”

On November 30th, a handful of Liipers attended to “Le Meilleur du Web 2011” award night.

Similar to the “Best of Swiss Web” (BOSW), that takes place in Zurich every year, this award is the first of its kind in Suisse Romande. Born of a joint effort from Victoria Marchand, Thierry Weber and Rodolphe Koller, this first edition had also been prepared in collaboration with the organizers of the BOSW, which probably brought their share of experience. The goal of the event was to give some more visibility to web agencies in Romandie.

The event was well organized and the mood was good, about 200 people joined the ceremony and the Liip team were the only ones to bring with them “virtual team members” (aka Liipers Benoît and Sylvain).

 

 

Basically, the whole Romand web scene was there with all the big agencies, but also small ones never heard of before. They were a bit less than 40 different projects in total. Some of them where submitted in distinct categories, which brought the number of total submissions to about 50 (pretty good for a first edition!).

Here are the awards results :

 

On its side, Liip won a distinction in the “Technology and Innovation” category (only category with a special distinction) with the “Football for All” project (basically http://m.uefa.com & http://ac.uefa.com) for the exceptional tech complexity management.

This is an fantastic result for Liip Lausanne, after 8 months of the office creation. I wanted to thank warmly all the Lausanne staff, but also the UEFA and of course :ratio, our UX partner in this project, who all made this distinction possible!

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Symfony2 hackday for non-devs

On July 10th, we had a not-common hackday organized a Liip in Fribourg. The theme was “Symfony 2 for non- (or old-) developers”. The goal of this workshop was to build a better understanding of what our developers at Liip are struggling with in their every day life, on most of our projects. This workshop was intended to business people, product owners, sys admins or anyone to whom coding is not the main task and who wanted to get his hands “dirty” for a while. Here is how it went for us.

Getting started

The goals that we fixed for this adventure where the following :

  • Install a local LAMP environment so that we can install SF2 on it
  • Follow tutorials
  • Create a small SF2 application

Understanding MVC architecture

Before getting our hands into command and code lines, we noticed that our programming knowledge where quite out of date and we had to refresh our mind on some basic software development concepts. Among others we needed to build an understanding of the Model View Controller architecture. We tried to explain it ourselves and searched quickly through the SF2 documentation website. What’s funny is that we finally went through a very concise MVC overview video from the Ruby community :)

Install a local LAMP environment

After this first discussion on modern best practices in development and some comparison with what were our habits 8 to 10 years ago (I remember my MVC’s being basically one big file ;) , we moved on to installing a local LAMP stack on our machines. Of course, some of us took advantage of the binary script of the PHP OSX project (born after a previous Liip hackday btw) and fought a bit with MySQL configuration. Others used MAMP (which is fine for local installations and has the advantage of installing MySQL as well).

Tutorials

Our local install running, we could finally start installing Symfony2. For this we followed carefully the instructions available on the Symfony2 Quicktour. While doing so, we were reminded that Symfony2, and also the documentation, is still a Release Candidate :). Most of the commands worked, however to our opinion, the instructions missed clarity and precision in some cases. Fortunately, while helping one another, we made it through the end of the tutorial. It was actually quite helpful for us to understand how routing, controllers and templating work. We also discovered and understood how Symfony2 applications are organized in bundles.

Create a small SF2 application

Now that we went through the basic tutorial, we had experienced how to create a controller and a view for a basic application. Now we decided to create a real application with also a “model” (see as our MVC refresher was helpful ;) component and some logic behind it. Two types of applications were created : some created an address book and others a wishlist. And this is where we noticed the power of the framework.
Basically, we were able to create these applications by going through a minimum of commandlines :
1) generate:bundle creates a new bundle
2) doctrine:generate:entity to create a new entity (the datamodel, here an “address” or a “wish” entity)
3) doctrine:database:create to create the new database
4) doctrine:schema:create allowed us to create automatically the tables and fields related to our entity previously defined
and finally
5) doctrine:generate:crud created automatically the CRUD commands used to manage our addresses and wishes.

That’s it, in 5 steps, my Wishlist application just works (no look at the styling, we didn’t do any) :


We were amazed how the Symfony2 prepares us most of the work, and how fast it is. Moreover, the routes allows to have nice paths automatically from the start. However, we also noticed that code “magic” has downturns : one of us didn’t manage to finish its application on time for a reason that we were not able to identify. Here, the help of one of our Symfony2 specialists would have been helpful.

Conclusion

We noticed that we are not developers, and thanks for our clients and colleagues, we do not get the chance to write lines of codes ;)
Symfony2 seems to have a bright future ahead and by largely adopting it within Liip, we are getting better and better at building customized web apps from scratch. That’s good and that’s what we do best, anyway.
For “first timers” like us, it’s not that easy to get going with Symfony2 at the moment. The tutorial still has bugs in it and it took us some time to work them around. But it will probably get better as the framework evolves (it’s RC4 at the moment).
Anyway, we now will be better prepared when selling our solutions and speaking about them. And thanks to this hackday we also will be a bit closer to our great developers. Thanks Liip for these awesome hackdays.

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Invitation to Liip Lausanne housewarming party – June 10th at 17h

Hey there Liip friends, fans and followers. We would like to invite you all to the opening party of our latest office.

It will take place at the Rue de Bourg 11-13 in Lausanne on June 10th @ 17h.

Everyone is welcome, just send a mail to contact@liip.ch to subscribe.

Insight into a LIFT Workshop

I long awaited last week’s Lift10 event. Draining a more important number of participants every year, this conference is probably the best of its kind in Switzerland. I was pleased to have the chance to meet lots of cool people interested by new technologies and trends, and appreciate speeches of quality from specialists coming from around the world.

I particularly liked the contrast between workshops and on stage sessions. Though most of the presentations where really interesting, the real value of such an event comes from the workshop sessions. This is in fact where the attendees are put to work (in contrast of being put to sleep ;-) and also where the networking works at its best. For me, one of the highlights of the three days I spent there was the workshop “Travel 2.0” held by Matthias Luefkens. In small groups, we where to brainstorm on some questions as “How to improve trip planning?”, “What do you expect from your smartphone?” or “How do you share your travel experience?”. Some of us addressed those questions to their twitter followers as well. It was interesting how diverse and innovative the answers were.

We all noticed that traditional guidebooks are not to be the rising stars of the next decades. Often outdated, even in the most recent version of it, they also bring you to places where most of other readers are already going to. Travelers are asking for a more “social” way of planning their trips, and they like adventure, i.e. to decide at the last moment. They want real, up to date recommendations from neutral people, travelers or locals. Most of us thought that using the nowadays tools still makes us spend way too much time planning our trips (trying to find the cheapest, nicest, best-located backpackers place, etc.) and also looking for good and neutral recommendations. Travelers, like others, want tools that bring them the right information wherever their trip drives them. Most of us came up with requests for more user generated guidebooks like Serious Guide, mobile applications using geolocation to bring them interesting stuff recommended by others in the area. Foursquare was often mentioned, as it is already becoming a useful application for getting hints while you are on the road (btw is foursquare not becoming a reliabel source of information while we are on the road?).

Finally, most of us agreed that what is actually missing today is affordable internet access abroad. And yes, without this, the travelers might miss the mobile-geolocalized boom for a couple of years…

Next Webmardi in Fribourg

The next Webmardi will be held on Tuesday, March 9, at the Liip Fribourg office.

We will have the chance to discover the promising New Zealand made Silverstripe CMS, presented by Manfred Pürro. Please feel free to join us, everyone is welcome!

An active week for Liip in Suisse-Romande!

Last week featured a couple of interesting events in Suisse Romande.

First of all, we attended a very cool Lift Presentations @ Lift Office event in Geneva. Following the Lift@Homeconcept, sidelines of the Lift10  conference, this evening’s theme focused on Innovation and featured four speakers; Christian Miccio from Google and Samuel Mueller from WDHB Consulting explained their point of view on innovation, or how can innovation be created in an organization. Their speech was followed by the very interesting presentation of Giorgio Pauletto and Patrick Genoud from Etat de Genève, sharing how can innovation be implemented and driven in a public organization.

This event was also the occasion to test a very “innovative” system to create interaction between the audience and the speakers: the participants where given different ways to ask their questions or share their thoughts as the presentations went along: twitter, skype, sms, email, paper, etc. All the feedbacks were collected and summarized on the fly by a team of courageous “Lift-ers”. It was interesting to see that this way of doing seemed to create much more – indirect of course – interaction than the standard “please ask your questions” at the end of a presentation.

The second event we Liipers took part to last week was a “mash up” of three active web-related communities in Suisse Romande: Swiss Web 2  – a community of Web 2.0 professionals, Tweetzerland – a group of Romands Twitterers and the Bloggers of Blog o Bar. The event was hosted by Sandrine Szabo in Lausanne (thank you Sandrine). It was really nice to meet cool web addicts from all over Suisse Romande to share a glass of wine, news from the online world and thoughts on new apps / tweaks for our smartphones (thanks to Nico & Phil from Tweetzerland for the pictures).