Vox Teneo, today, consists of more than 100 employees and as many skills, in 4 countries.

Our value is not based on machines, neither on products nor on equipment. The core of Vox Teneo, its strengths are the people.

 

The core of Vox Teneo, its strengths are the people.

 

In its core our business is knowledge, creativity and ingenuity. The point is to combine those individual qualities and skills into a coordinated system, where everyone finds his or her place.

This is the real challenge.

To meet this challenge, I believe in “collaborative leadership” and not in “management”.

“Collaborative leadership” is the innovative concept of “horizontal management”. This horizontal structure consists of considering the manager’s role as a facilitator who accompanies the team. The leader listens, supports and does not command.

 

The leader listens, supports and does not command.

 

 
This model is in opposition to the traditional, vertical structure of companies. This traditional hierarchical organization is a source of division and frustration. Especially for new generations, eager for initiatives and flexibility where everyone’s wish is to become an actor of a collective success.

For customers, the horizontal structure offers the advantage of responsiveness and commitment to the result. Two requirements that have become essential today.

However, to promote at each level initiative, creativity, the courage to propose, at every level, one cannot only listen to managers. We have to provide everyone with the chance to take the place that one deserves.

In “meritocracy”, one is recognized for the value that one brings.

It goes without saying that some responsibility sharing must be predefined. The people in charge are less “managers” and more “leaders” who channel and organize. They should be the ones listening to each and employee’s ideas.

 

 

This form of collaboration requires intense and transparent communication, and can sometimes be a source of frustration or a misunderstanding.
This collaborative leadership is based on the permanent exchange of different, geographically distant points of view. Exchanges that, to remain effective, must quickly lead to consensus.

Meritocracy requires investment. One who is not proactive, who wishes to be only “present” without contribution to the project may not find one’s place.
The value of effort and commitment is a prerequisite.

 

One who is not proactive, who wishes to be only present without contribution to the project may not find one’s place.

 

Humanity comes first for the team and our collaborators, but also for our customers, partners and associates.

All our meetings are opportunities to succeed in a new challenge, in a new project.
While many of our collaborations have led to some fabulous successes, some have also been a source of great disappointment … due to disproportionate hopes? lack of discernment? or naive trust?

In 16 years, Vox Teneo has grown from its successes and especially from its failures but we will not change our course of action: we will continue to offer our trust, our potential, without concession because in our opinion, this is the only way, humanely committed, to carry out challenges impossible to achieve alone.

My partners Patrick, Denis and I started Vox Teneo 15 years ago. This is a very long period of time if you are working in the IT industry. I am grateful that during these years I have been able to experience not only the exponential development of technology, but also the growth of our own company along with it. Today we are present in six countries worldwide and working on many exciting cutting-edge technology projects.

…what brought us all here today is trust.

 

This may sound like a cliché, but what brought us all here today is trust. – trust in people, trust in technology, the trust of our clients, who eventually became our long-term partners. To be honest, trust also lead us to some failures along the way too, but if I have to choose again today I would always give the benefit of the doubt to trust.

 

I treat hardware as a cost and intelligence as an investment

 

One of the biggest challenges for us is to continue adopting the new technologies, while maintaining our project execution excellence and the professional level of our products. It is easy to imagine how the first project you work on in a new technology is often related with unexpected challenges and has no best practice standard you can rely on. The key is continuous investment in knowledge and talent. If I must choose where to spend my money, I would always prefer to invest in brilliant minds capable of managing ambiguity and thinking innovatively, than to build a data center.

 

Rigour, Flexibility, Ingenuity

 

As we were starting Vox Teneo, it looked nothing like most of today’s start-ups. We didn’t go to an accelerator and never contacted an angel investor. We started building it block by block with our “bare hands”. Me, Patrick and Denis were all on the field, which gave us a very good understanding of what it takes to be successful in this business. After a few years of 60-hour work weeks and a serious amount of willpower, we looked back and thought it all over. We asked ourselves “What makes us a success story?”. And this is namely how we defined our values: Rigour, Flexibility, Ingenuity. Today these run in the veins of the company, and they are also what we are looking to see in every person who comes to works with us.

I could not imagine that I would be with my colleagues in Indonesia at the same time of my 3rd anniversary in Vox Teneo Macedonia. While waiting at  the airport I have noticed an interesting advertisement:

 

Going the extra mile, why would I do that?

 

“Why would I do that?”  I have asked myself that question so many times especially before making the crucial decisions. I have been working as a teaching assistant of mathematics at the oldest state University in Macedonia, I have been elected three times in a row as a Member of the Macedonian Parliament having huge experience in foreign policy and EU affairs, but at some point I have asked myself is that what I would still like to do? After deep consideration I have decided to leave both…I gave up decades of experience in my university and political career. It was not an easy decision neither easy to endure that though… It took around 3 years to find another job having  so many burdens in my private life at the same time, but it was worth it! I am grateful for every single second and for every lesson learned…those are the kind of lessons that only life can provide…

So, when I decided what I don’t want to do anymore, I should’ve decide what I would like to do. Anything connected with the public administration was immediately out of scope, I cannot imagine myself going to work from 8am till 4pm, occupied with non creative responsibilities and rules that just need to be followed. I was thinking about engagement in International organizations where I could’ve used my competences as a policy maker and push changes in society from a different point but the real challenge for me was the private sector because I have never tried my skills in business and I was very curious if I can manage in that field… And everything started with that single question:

“Why would I do that?”  How many times we have asked ourselves that question? How many times that question has become the obstacle for us, sometimes even unconsciously?! How many opportunities we have missed in our life only because we haven’t been brave enough and pass that extra mile in reaching the final step, making our wishes, our dreams come true…

Maybe we are not aware that the decisions that we are making on a daily basis, nevertheless if they are related with our private or professional life, have almost the same process as a project life cycle:

  • Conceptualization, Observation and Analyze
  • Estimation
  • Planning and risk calculation
  • Decisioning
  • Execution (developing and design)
  • Testing
  • Delivering
  • Termination

 

You don’t believe me? Let’s see!

Case 1) You have finished school, started to work and at some point, you would like to buy your own apartment. You are going to  several banks, asking for the opportunities and conditions, analyzing all possible solutions, making calculations if you can sustain that, making a plan for additional work if needed, wondering what will happen if you cannot pay the rates regularly and you have to make the decision whether you will make a step or not…You have to reconsider everything again and answer the question “Why would I do that? Is it worth it?”

So, you have two possibilities: to give up on the plan and postpone it for “some better times” but always wondering “What if…“or to take the  risk and go forward, buy the apartment and successfully accomplish the plan. l. It is just one step…

Case 2) Last summer, my friends went on a holiday and they were telling us stories from their trip. One of the stories is appropriate example for the subject and  I will share it with you.

So, they were by the swimming pool observing an extremely pretty girl that was alone…analyzing and making a strategy on how to approach her, what to do, how long it will take to start conversation, what if she embarrassed them…and they decided to focus more on other two girls, not so attractive, but they were sure that they will have a success there without major effort or risk, pretty much comfortable…So, they have decided to give up on the beautiful girl…but, what if…? Oooo I am sure that you can imagine what they were willing to describe, all the steps and possible situations… I will spare you from those details…

Case 3) The Elephant Rope story

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not. He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

I wonder how many small ropes “tied” to our legs are breaking our opportunities to achieve great things…

 

 

Case 4) The Obstacle in our Path

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but not one of them did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many of us never understand: “Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.”

The story is a message that we shouldn’t be discouraged by the obstacles, they might lead to something incredible! Just remember how many successful people, even some of the richest people in the world started at the beginning having only an idea, a dream and the will to fulfill it. For most of them, it didn’t come over the night or by inheriting  a fortune, but with hard work, a lot of effort and sacrifices, removing the obstacles, learning how to stand up quickly after falling, how to be patient, determined and persistent in achieving a goal.

Here are couple of examples:

Case 5) The Pierre Omidyar way.

In 1995, a computer programmer Pierre Omidyar started auctioning off stuff on his personal website AuctionWeb. It started as  a personal project, but, when the amount of web traffic made it necessary to upgrade to a business Internet account, Pierre had to start charging people fees. He hired his first employee to handle all the payment checks and built a “monster” that is now known today as eBay.

Case 6) The Matt Maloney and Mike Evans way. Everything started one night back in 2004 in Chicago, when a couple of hungry software developers, who were working late in the  night got fed up of searching for takeout restaurants, raised the question: “Why isn’t there a one-stop shop for food delivery?” That’s when the pair decided to start GrubHub, which has quickly become a popular dinner option for harried workers. Up to 2014, nearly 50%of orders were placed via mobile devices providing the offer from 30,000 Restaurants, 700 U.S. cities, 175,000 orders per day, $1 billion Gross food sales via Grubhub in 2013 and valued at more than $3 billion.

Case 7) Elon Musk case.

It is not easy to succeed in the business world. It is not easy to succeed in our personal life either! But, the most important thing is that there is always a way, it is always possible to overcome anything, from losing the people who were precious to us, fails when we hoped for success, poverty and many many more.

Whatever is the reason, instead of giving up, pick yourself back up!

Just make that step and…move…forward

 

I have always run but not as often and intensely as today. I started to run long distances two years after the birth of my third child in September 2015. With 3 kids born close to each other, intense and tiring days, I felt the need to find back the good balance between private and professional life, to find moments for myself, to decompress. If at the beginning, I ran once a week, today, I run 2 to 3 times a week following the family organization.

 

A bit more than a year ago, I started running trails. Those races are more intense and more challenging.

 

If at the beginning, running allowed me get back in shape after my 3 pregnancies, it brings me today much more than that. Combining work and private life is not easy, sometimes it brings stress and fatigue.  With my current position at Vox Teneo as responsible for the Finance, sport is for me beneficial to the body and the mind, to the good every day balance.

My days are fully occupied, I have to be very concentrated on what I do.

 

By running, I have free spirit, I can think calmly, and think back on what happened during the day. I feel positive and relaxed. I also develop motivation, I set goals. These goals can also help me and move me forward in my family live and in my professional lives.

I see sport and more specifically running as a source of positive energy in life, which allows me to cope with the daily challenges, to relativize and move more serenely in my projects.

With this article I would like to encourage the Vox Teneo team that will participate at the Brussels 20km this weekend. I will not participate this year since I will be for the weekend in the south of the country. I will still have the opportunity to run my first 30km trail.

 

ScrumDay Bandung 2018

 

On April 16th, 2018, three people from the team in Indonesia went to the biggest Scrum event in the world which was held in Bandung, Indonesia. Kharisma, Ayi and Rendy joined more than 500 participants from Indonesia and other countries.

 

 

The title of the event was “Service-Based Leadership for Adaptability in the Face of Global Challenges”. Various topics from 4 major areas were covered:-People & Culture, Product Management, Technical Excellence and Business Development. Every participant could choose the topic that seemed the most interesting for him/her. – We could also jump from one topic to another – whenever we wanted . The speakers were practitioners, that came from France, USA and Indonesia. Also  Scrum Masters were available for us to answer questions about Scrum.

 

 

 

We got many insights during the event especially about servant leadership, efficiency, measuring performance and cultures around the world.

 

DevOpsDays Jakarta 2018 Summary

 

About The Event

The event opened with the “State Of DevOps 2018” topic that explains the current state of DevOps, discusses in detail cultures and tools related to DevOps, as well as opportunities for the DevOps advancement and improvement in the future.

The event was held at the end of April at BTPN Tower Jakarta for 2 days in a row, attended by several large companies from various categories such as e-commerce, FinTech, Travel, SaaS, Big Data, Education and many others that are and will be implementing DevOps. At this event there were practitioners from Indonesia and overseas.

The event was supported by Agile Circle Indonesia which has a mission to transmit the culture of DevOps in the application development.

 

 

In additional to the Keynote speakers, we also got great ignites speakers who provided useful information regarding DevOps and encouraged participants to successfully transform and implement   DevOps in their companies, making it much better in terms of development, product lifecycle, stakeholders communication and delivery.

There were discussion sessions split per topic delivered by every keynote speaker each day. Participants could share experiences, problems and solutions among themselves and discuss directly with the speakers.

Covered Material :

  • How to set up a DevOps team within an organization or company.
  • The success story of the e-commerce company “BliBli” in implementing  Devops for mobile application development
  • .Prudential’s success story as one of the insurance companies, that have changed their organization using agile methodology and implementing DevOps in application development in approximately 2.5 years.
  • How to deliver a feature quickly and with high quality by breaking the feature into small parts.
  • Utilization of Raspberry Pi devices as a server for non-profit organizations with consideration of the limited resources of devices and electricity as well as internet connection

 

 

Benefits gained from the event:

  • Getting acquainted with  some of the DevOps Tools used by such companies like Jenkins, Chef, Ansible and Bamboo.
  • How DevOps can ease IT routine tasks, such as Web deployment and Server Management or Orchestration.
  • Get information on how the big companies decide to implement DevOps in their company.

 

LaravelBDG#2 Event

 

On Monday, April the 30th, 2018, Vox Teneo became  part of a community called LaravelBDG. LaravelBDG is a community for those who have interest in Laravel and live around Bandung. The community is still new. It was created in the previous March and currently has about 50 members. The plan is to have meet-up events once a month.

 

 

This time, Vox Teneo sponsored the event by providing snacks for the coffee break and also the speaker. Haryo Adi, one of our PHP developers talked about “Move on From Your MVC, Part Controller”. The talk was started with a short explanation about MVC, then the difficulties with it, especially in the Controller part. After that, he explained his suggestion and gave an example in Laravel. The talk was quite long (almost an hour), but the summary was quite simple: move the application logic out of controller.

Vox Teneo is willing to join communities where we can share ideas. We believe that the more we give, the more we will get.

We are proud to announce that we recently released the last website of our Belgian client D’Ieteren: MyWay! Certified used cars. It’s a platform where you can find quality second hand cars from the famous car importer brands: Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat.

The website is based on .Net technology (Umbraco CMS), with a responsive web design, working perfectly on desktop, tablet and mobile. It is built using Ajax, allowing dynamic content loading and decoupling the data (the interchanging layer from the presentation layer)

 

 

MyWay features a powerful Car Search Engine with over 18 dynamic search criteria, real-time results counter and it also allows Quick and Advanced Search.

The Car Details page features a financing plan calculator and a car comparator in Ajax.

 

 

The Dealer Locator on MyWay has a search engine integrated with Google Maps. It allows multi criteria search based on the address, dealer name and more.

Users can also create personal accounts on the website where they can save their search criteria making it easier for them to find their perfect vehicle.

 

We are always on the lookout for new talents that can join our team in Indonesia, even though we don’t have an ongoing internship program. At the end of 2017, we recruited 2 new PHP developers that are today an important part of our team. The success of those recruitments though is to big extend grace to our thorough recruitments process.

In Indonesia we do not have any difficulty finding candidates. The hardest part is finding the eligible ones. Usually, when we publish our open positions, we receive hundreds of applications, and the most time consuming part is the selection process that goes in three stages.

 

Stage one: preselection

In the first stage, we screen the resumes. Usually it takes at least a few days, because we receive hundreds of resumes.

 

Stage two: selection process

In the second stage, we send the qualified candidates 3 tests. Technical self assessment, psychological test and an English test.

  • Self Assessment Test. The technical self assessment is intended to evaluate the candidates’ skills, but it also gives valuable information about how the candidate sees himself.
  • Psychological test. The psychological test is intended to find out if the candidate fits the company culture and the team.
  • English test. We need an English test as we are a global company and the official working language is English.

This second stage is convenient because the candidates can do the three tests remotely.

 

Stage three: final evaluation

The third stage consists of a technical test and an interview session.

  • Technical test. The technical test takes at least 4 hours to complete a practical exercise.
  • Interview session. During the interview session we check the test to find out if we have a match with the candidate. For us, it is important. We want the candidates to be our best fit and us to be the best fit for them.

 

 

Kusumahari and Haryo

Back to our 2 new PHP guys. They are Kusumahari Hadison and Haryo Adi Nugroho. They passed all the stages and were welcomed to our team. Kusumahari is sociable, he easily adapted to our culture and manners. Since he joined, we’ve been playing futsal together, laughed together, and coded together. Besides his social side, his technical skills are awesome too.  On the other side, Haryo is a technical person and his technical skills and his potential are well appreciated. In the short period he has been here, he has already started giving technical trainings to the other members of the team. He loves technology, discovering new tools and methods. It is awesome to have them both in house, because they are the missing pieces that complete our team.

This year, both of them became permanent employees. We are grateful for their work and contribution. According to Kusumhari, one of the biggest advantages at Vox Teneo are the comfortable working conditions.. He feels that the teamwork and the communication between the team members are exceptionally good. At Vox Teneo we share knowledge and help each other. According to, Kusumahari his team leader is very helpful and coordinates every tasks in a good way, he sees also that his team leader leads responsibly. To Haryo, our biggest plus is the organization in  the company. His targets are clear, the tools he uses fit him very well and he can see every step of his tasks clearly. “The workflow is more comfortable than in any other place I have ever worked”, he says.

We hope the happiness will not stop there, but we can help them to grow both technically and personally. That is our mission.

I have inadvertently been using humor as a tool for my entire career.  It is only within the last few years through feedback and reviews by peers that I have come to understand the value of this inadvertent tool.

 

Humor has helped me to build relationships with my colleagues and team members, to reduce tension in difficult situations, to project an image of approachability, and to increase motivation.

 

Humor is not a tool for all situations and it is important to find the right balance for the professional context.  Every joke isn’t a hit and because of this, I have found that I often have a second chance to made a joke about how bad I make jokes.

As a tool, in my experience, humor should only be used occasionally, maybe once or twice in a meeting.  It is too easy to fall into making too many jokes and disrupting productivity.

It is important to keep aware of the context of your audience.  Always shoot more conservative than you expect them to be.  For me, politically charged jokes are never appropriate because you never know someone’s personal political views.

Keep in mind the hierarchy of your audience as you do not want to be seen as unprofessionally punching above your weight or become too comfortable with others who you may need to take a strong professional stance with late.

If people feel too close, they may feel betrayed when frank professional conversations are necessary.

Gifs and Memes are always a hit with the technical crowd.  Sarcasm in moderation is always healthy as long as you are sure your audience will know its sarcasm.

Humor is a tool I have inadvertently relied upon and now that I recognize its utility, I intend to rely on it as a strategic asset for the rest of my career.

 

Benjamin Reinhardt – Chief Process Officer

We are proud to announce the release of another amazing project done by Vox Teneo – the public website of Calderys. This is a Drupal 8 website with custom design.

One of the most interesting  features on this website is the 3D objects with image mapBeing a Drupal based the website is easy to administrate.

Another useful feature on the website is the find an office” option on the “contact us” page. We implemented Google maps with the content from the website database, making it easier for the users to find the offices closest to them. You can see the demo for this website here

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Ivona and I am 21 years old. Currently my fields of interest are software development and programming. I like finding solutions to problems and creating things. I am also attracted to game development and 3D modeling. Lately I have also been looking into embedded programming, machine learning and deep learning as they are very progressive fields and they are areas where you can be very creative and let your imagination lead you in creating various interesting applications.

Currently I am working as a PHP developer and I am also a student at the Faculty of electrical engineering and information technologies.

How did you join Vox Teneo?

I first joined Vox Teneo as an intern. I was ready to work on anything as my primary purpose was to see what it was like to work in a software development company and gain experience in this area.I noticed that the knowledge I had gained in university and learned on my own initiative were lacking the professional aspect. We agreed that I would start learning PHP with a possibility of joining one of the PHP teams afterwards.

Was this your first “real work” experience”? How was it?

This was my first “real work” experience. Before I had only worked on small projects on my own initiative and on some university projects. This was a very new experience for me, I started learning new things really quickly and got introduced to new topics and terms I haven’t heard of. I was pretty nervous on the beginning but everybody was really friendly and welcoming so I felt at ease really quickly.

Right from the start you got in on one of our biggest projects. What was your biggest challenge?

After I finished my internship I started working on one of the biggest projects in the company although then I didn’t know that. When I started working I faced the complexity of the project and got a little bit lost as I was parallely studying and going to university and getting to know the project. However with the help of the team that was always available to help I quickly managed to get into the project. I learned a lot working on this project and I still learn new things every day.

What can you recommend to young people that want to start in development

I would recommend to everybody that wants to start their career as software developers not to be afraid to do it earlier. With enough dedication and commitment everything can be archived and the knowledge and experience gained cannot be replaced. In addition never give up on learning new things and try to create things on one’s own as that gives a lot of self confidence and also the possibility to learn from your own mistakes.

This spring we are starting a new series giving you another inside look of the everyday life in our company and all the people. We are starting a series of vlogs with people from each of our entities beginning with the first video from Belgium featuring the co-founder and partner – Denis Muyldermans.

More videos are on the way from Indonesia and Macedonia. Subscribe to our channel and don’t miss any of them!


After two years of hard work, we are proud to announce the launch of a baby elephant!

Our client for this project is PEGI (Pan-European Game Information). PEGI is an age rating system, established to help European parents get informed when buying a computer or a console game. Launched in 2003 PEGI represents unified age rating system used throughout Europe. The system is supported by the major console manufacturers, including Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, as well as by publishers and developers of interactive games throughout Europe.

More than ten backend developers and two designers from Vox Teneo were involved in the development of the platform. The teams that worked on the platform are located in Brussels, Skopje and Bitola. Thank you all for the sleepless nights and efforts, you make Vox Teneo a wonderful place to work! The total count of days spent on the project is more than 2200.

The new age rating system is developed by VoxTeneo, using Laravel. The logic behind the rating includes different criteria and calculation, after which the final rating of the game is published. Rating needs to be submitted and reviewed by official publishers and examiners, both part of the rating system.

We have also develop the public website of PEGI, which is Drupal based instance.

In continuation to our latest post about our internship program in Macedonia, we are focussing today on our previous interns in Belgium. Indeed, Vox Teneo Belgium also has an internship program. Denis and Loïc’s success story is a good example for it. They both started working for Vox Teneo in January 2017. They were completing their studies in Computer Engineering which they both successfully finished, earning their Bachelors Degrees. at the time They were Java oriented but switched to .Net during the last year of their studies after a school project and the internship at Vox Teneo.

To complete their Bachelor’s Degree, they had to follow a compulsory internship of 3-4 months. The aim of the internship was to apply and develop the skills learned throughout their studies. Denis and Loïc heard about Vox Teneo through one of their teachers. Denis then applied for an internship at Vox Teneo and considering his first and positive interview he mentioned it to his long time bestfriend: Loïc

After going through the HR interview and the technical test, they were both accepted for theinternship.

In January 2017 they joined a 4-person .Net team in Belgium in coordination with different Indonesian co-workers. During the time-period of their internship they worked and focused on a new Belgian project. It was the opportunity for them to develop and learn different working methods and skills: Agile method, prioritization, working in English, project architecture,Entity Framework.

 

After their internship, at the end of June, they went back to their university to present and defend their thesis. The paper’s subject was presenting Vox Teneo and analysing the client’s needs. They also analysed the technical side of the project and explained in details the tasks they were in charge of during the internship.

They later came back and officially joined the Vox Teneo team during the summer of 2017. This time they worked with another smaller team. They were in charge of more than 10 projects compared to one during the training. The team was first -located in Belgium only, but later, they were joined by a few Macedonian colleagues. Since thatsummer they have been receiving more responsibilities and have had to face challenges but were shown more freedom and autonomy. They also worked through their first deployment.

As of January 2018, so one year later, Denis changed teams and now works on other projects in a 2-person team.

Denis and Loïc are both grateful to Vox Teneo for showing trust in them and officiating the hard work from their internship into providing them a permanent contract. They are grateful for their team members who have lead them and taught them what they needed to complete their training. It is for both of them their first job and we can say they fit well in the company’s young spirit.

Interested in joining the team in Belgium? Check out our open job position.

At the beginning of 2018 Vox Teneo continued with the internship programs, this time with a PHP Laravel internship in Skopje. This is not the first time Vox Teneo has opened the doors for young and talented people who want to learn more about software development. In fact it’s the fifth time in two years that we organize a training or internship. We can proudly say that we had a lot of success in the past, transforming our interns into our employees.

The current internship program in Skopje aims to teach the interns how to build a web application using Laravel, one of the most popular PHP frameworks. The program lasts 3 months, with eliminatory tests after each month and a final test after the third month of training. After completing the course, the students will gain a solid foundation on programming techniques using PHP and Laravel framework as well as some knowledge on Linux Server Management system.

 

In the picture you can see Bojan, one of the trainers. He is among our most talented PHP developers. The students: Mihaela, Kristijan, Ilir and Emanuel are still in the beginning of their training and right now they are learning about Environment setup and PHP basics like syntax, variables, control structure and Object oriented programming in PHP.

Bojan focuses mostly on practical work rather than just explanations of how things work because as he says, you can’t learn how to code if you don’t practice all the time.

Our candidates come from different backgrounds but they all have one thing in common, they all love what they do and are eager to learn. They are hoping that by the end of this course, they will have the knowledge to build their own web applications.

Maybe one of these talented individuals will become one more of our success stories and join our team in Skopje after the three months training. Stay tuned for updates on the status! 🙂

This Saturday, on the 16th of December the Drupal Community in Macedonia is organizing a Drupal Meetup Skopje. The event will take place in Ceed Hub. If you want to join, book a seat here (it’s free).

The plan of the organizers is to have an informal gathering, so people with experience and passion for technology can share ideas and knowledge. In the past year we have completed several complex Drupal 8 (D8) projects, hence our team feels confident and will be happy to share experience, to tell about the successes and difficulties we have been through.

 

The short story of Vox Teneo in Macedonia and Drupal

 

Vox Teneo is actively developing D8 web applications today.

The first office in Macedonia was established in 2014 in Skopje, there was high demand for Drupal developers within the group, maybe because of the fact that Drupal, just like Vox Teneo is founded in Belgium. As a result the initial team was formed around D7 projects. There were not many developers in Skopje working with the technology back than. In order to support the local community and raise awareness about the pros of the framework we have organized several events. First – two beginners lectures and bafter a sequence of gatherings in Kika hacklab together with iBorn.

Since we were using the CMS for free, we thought is especially relevant to pay back to the community. As a result dedicated the team part time to the Drupal Community. We were developing core features together with the team of Drupal Commerce – Commerce Guys. Along the way we have completed an interesting intranet solution for AG Real Estate.

We have today a larger portfolio of technologies and offices in Prilep and Bitola as well. In the late 2016 we started adopting D8 and using Twig (the engine used by D8) for D7. The team was super enthusiastic about the newly born D8 as you can see from Martin‘s tweet…

 

 

 

The topic we are most passionate about today is Continuous Delivery and DevOps.

We will be happy to meet you at the Drupal Meetup Skopje this Saturday and exchange knowledge and experience!

 

Cheers!

Being a part of a company with more than 100 employees spread across several countries in different parts of the world, means that you are also a part of something larger in terms of culture and diversity. Although there are a lot of things that make us different, we came to know that there are also a lot of things that make us come closer together and help us grow as one big unit.

Driven from the interests of each person in Vox Teneo, we decided to publish a series of articles that will focus on the common interests of people from different countries in order to show you that beside all of our differences, we can all somehow relate with each other, but also relate to YOU as well as try to help you, or give you advice as best as we can.

Our first article of the series focuses on a general activity, enjoyed by many, no matter where they come from – traveling. We decided to go with traveling first because as mentioned, it’s a very general subject, and we hope you can find some useful information and tips from our people.

Rafting

We conducted a survey asking everyone about their best and worst travel experiences, and what are the tips they can offer to people that are eager to explore and want new and exciting experiences. Here are the top answers we got:

Best places people visited on their travels and why?

  • Egypt – “Because traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta
  • Corsica – Food, landscape, sun
  • Chiang Mai (Thailand) – Typical old town of the north of Thailand, the best place to eat thai food and et into the local culture and daily life
  • Japan – Japan was a destination that stuck in my mind for several years during my studies. But no money, no adventure. Then I had the chance to go there with twofriends some years ago. That travel changed my life.
  • Morocco – It was wild and different from everything I know. I went for windsurfing with friends and a camper, so we were moving often from beach to beach. The wind was crazy, waves super big, so the adrenaline levels kept me hyped
  • Swedish back-country – amazing nature and landscape
  • Agia Pelagio in Greece – Crystal clear water and natural beaches
  • Phuket Island – Beautiful beaches
Egypt

Worst place you visited and why?

  • Detroit USA – With the collapse of industries and people moving out, it bared a post war resemblance.
  • Jakarta – Too crowded, capital city
  • Madeira (Portuguese Island) – Tourist trap, just follow the crowd tourists, nothing typical exists there since tourist economy has won this island
  • Albania – Things are still in development tourism wise, roads and infrastructure are still not at good standards
  • Cannes – the beach – Crowded Beach and dirty sea water
  • Avsha – island in Turkey – Nothing to do outside except swimming
  • So far I have never visited a bad place – You will always find a piece of joy even in the worst place
Detroit

What tips or advice would you give travelers?

  • Travel where you know at least one local to show you around as an insider of that society. Don’t just sightsee and take photos.
  • Be a good guest to your hosts. Hike, eat, and try everything!
  • Google maps and Airbnb are your friends
  • You need to see the reviews from other travelers, see the weather of your visit time, also compare from several vendors for accommodation and transportation cost.
  • Travel alone or at least with peers that do not need you being with them all the time. The need to find where to stay, what to eat and to whom to speak will enrich your traveling experience.
  • Look outside of the book and discover on your own terms
  • Try to speak the local language, even just a few words once in awhile and show respect to the local culture
  • Plan to go to the airport (if needed) early to avoid unnecessary stress
  • Do not be afraid of traveling without any preparation
Have fun

This week, four Belgian entrepreneurs announced the birth of a new Belgian start-up: NeoConnect. The purpose of the platform is to ease communication between community members and facilitate local development. It allows easier connections and building interactive communities through projects, organisations and groups. The tool makes it possible to share the chain of supply and demand for skills, know-how, financing and thematic information.

An article on Brussels Express was published on the 14th of November 2017. It says that a Belgian start-up promises shake of local, regional and thematic communities around the world. The platform is “a digital tool that is both powerful and original” according Mr. François Dupont. He is CEO of Vox Teneo and co-founder of Neo Connect.

 

The development of the platform

The development of the platform was a challenging process, due to the complex logic of the application. Numerous inter dependencies had to be defined by the technical business analysts. This logic was transferred to the project management and development team, who came back with the corresponding solution. The application has a modular structure, hence it is easy to adapt and customize. The different elements aim to suit every community regardless subject or size.

The platform was fully developed on Drupal 8.

On the 20th and 21st of October, a team of 5 people from Vox Teneo attended Datakathon, a hackathon organized in Belgium ment to test the skills of developers.

We are proud to say that our guys took the 1st place in the competition of 10 teams, building the best application in the 24h time limit. A product fueled by no sleep, junk food, few red bulls, and stress, made by a well organized team. And here to talk about it, are the champions themselves: Jerome, Oppie, Svetlin, Stephen and Emmanuel! Congrats on the victory guys!

 

The Application – Beer and Me

The idea behind the application is helping beer lovers find the right beer for them. You start off by creating your profile, with your general knowledge of beer, preference in strength, bitterns, EBC /  SRM (Standard Reference Method) as well as your personal details like name, age and profession.

Another parameter of the application is the situation you are in, so no matter if you are at an after work party, relaxing and home, visiting a destination as a tourist, or you just want to discover something new and exciting, Beer and Me helps you find just what you are looking for.

Since the data base of beers is huge, we used Elastic search for discovering the best beer for the user and a Tinder style user interface making the application very user friendly and easy to use.

So all you beer lovers out there, get ready, because we are expecting the full release of the application in early 2018.

 

 

Give us your opinion on the event and organization

The organization was perfect! The animators and experts were very present at all times. This was the first Datakathon in Belgium, Hackaton based on Data visualization and it was a great success. We had free food (pizza, hot dog, sandwiches) and soft drinks (coke and water) and enough energy drinks to keep us awake. And of course for an event based on beer, 3 tickets to taste the proposed beers, all selected by a beer specialist.

 

How did you last 48h without sleep?

In fact they were not 48 but around 40 hours. We didn’t sleep through the hackathon and immediately after the work time ended. We thought that we would have power for 24 hours more work without sleep, but 3 hours later the power immediately dropped. We saw how adrenaline gives power.

 

How did you find inspiration for the beer theme ?

Beer data visualization was the theme of the hackathon. So developing something about beer was a requirement. In fact some of us are not very big beer fans and consumers, but in Belgium there are a lot of beers to taste. And there is no way not liking at least one. The solution that we started developing is useful for people who are not so knowledgeable about beers, but would like to taste something new and interesting.

 

 

How did you organize the team and work ?

Jerome was organizing the work, and he did it very well.

We were following the methodology that we follow in our daily job, but with shorter intervals of time.

There were tasks that had to be done. Everybody was doing their tasks, but we were in touch with each other during the whole development process and this was very important.

We followed the Agile methodology. We were first focused on the MVP application (minimal viable product) that was only two screens then added the other screens one by one. We made 1-hour sprints followed by 10-minute breaks to share the difficulties and explain to each other what we were working on. A board was created with sticky notes and each guy took one sticky note to work on. One feature at a time and each person focused on their job.

 

 

Do you think the app could actually be developed and commercialized, and when can we expect the full release?

We expect to finish the application, hopefully by the end of this year. We think that it really can go to production and can be useful. Especially when you are a foreigner that does not know well local beers it is very useful, because you decrease the chance to drink something you won’t like for sure. Everybody wants to finish the job.

 

What was the coolest thing about your app?

Maybe the whole solution and the fact that we used a stack of different technologies. The technologies that were used for the development were Xamarin and Elasticsearch. The elasticsearch part was very important for the core functionality of the whole solution and Stephane and Manu did a great job there and Oppie did a great job on the UI / UX. In fact to be honest, in the beginning we didn’t have a clear idea of what we were developing, but in the end we had a solution with absolutely clear workflow.

 

 

What is your user target ?

We started with two profiles:

Valérie – 22 years old – student – loves to party, have fun and drink beer

François – 40 years old – musician – loves fine food and likes to degust a beer alone in his sofa with his guitar

But, in the end every consumer of beer, or everyone that wants to taste something new can be our target.

 

 

How was the competition? Did you expect to win?

The competition was a lot of fun. The job was well done by each member of the team. That was a great event for us. A good experience that needs to happen again.

We were expecting to win, but our philosophy was fun first, competition later.

Today, 16th of October, we are celebrating International Boss’s Day. In honor of this occasion, we are having a look at the life of a company owner, and appreciate the hard work.

In this post you will have some insights of François DupontDenis Muyldermans and Patrick Logé, founders of Vox Teneo.

 

What does Vox Teneo mean ?

Denis: Vox means voice in Latin and has the meaning of communicating and sharing.

François: Teneo comes from Tenere in Latin and means owning the knowledge. The correct combination of the both should be Vocem Teneo, but we think Vox Teneo sounds better. We chose a name that implies the notion of sharing.

How did you meet ?

François: Denis and I met at university.

Denis: We later met Patrick during our experience as freelance consultant.

 

We have always known we wanted to become entrepreneurs. – François

 

What does it mean for you to be entrepreneur ?

PatrickIn French, undertake comes from the Latin words “inter prehendere”: to “grasp with the hand”. This young humanist notion was born in the Age of Enlightenment. According to this Age, a “good” life is to bring our contribution, even modest, to the Human progress. Or to modern philosophers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, to have an intense life free from barriers. This “gesture”, an individual action to undertake, is sometimes perceived as an “individualistic” approach. You are indeed choosing alone to undertake, but you are also choosing to build something reflecting who you are and refuse to follow norms. Your conviction is to build something else. This misunderstanding surrounds the entrepreneur’s life as building alone doesn’t work… doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately you are sometimes perceived as if you are doing it alone. You then need to explain, convince, prove by your acts, put yourself at risk. Your surrounding, friends, family, collaborators that you are trying to bring together in your own world see your enthusiasm but also sometimes feel anxiety: “Where is he going?”, “Is he going to make it ?”, “But he’s crazy!…”.

DenisHaving the support of your family is essential. Knowing that your surrounding believes in you and in your projects is vital. Not having that would make the workload much heavier. We are lucky that our wives have been supporting our ideas since the beginning.

 

What difficulties are you encountering now with the company ?

François: Because now it is no longer just the 3 of us, when there is an issue in the company we are the last level of the hierarchy. This means it is our responsibility to find a solution. No one can do it for us. Synchronizing the communication in between the countries where we have offices is another challenge. We sometimes realize not all offices are aware of projects in other offices. We are aware there is room for improvement in the communication area weather internally or externally.

 

What does a day in the life of a boss look like ?

François: One day is full of unexpected situations.

Denis: You know you cannot fill your agenda because it will not be respected and it will change a lot in a short period of time. This means that you often need to catch up on work at night.

François: The amount of work and your implication in it is permanent. You do not ever really disconnect.

Denis: Our work has changed a lot in 15, 3, even 2 years. We are not doing the same thing we were doing a couple years ago. Because at first it was just the 3 of us. We were doing everything and everyone’s job. The 3 of us we were the administrative assistant, the IT support, the developer, the project manager, the sales director, the HR director,…

François: As Denis said, we went through all positions and we know what is done in the company.

DenisUnderstanding the work of our employees is what distinguishes us.

 

What are your plans for the future?

François: We want to focus more on the entrepreneur aspect of our work and delegate more and more the operational side of it.

Denis: We now delegate more of our operational responsibilities.

François: The 2 last sectors we still need to delegate are HR and Sales Management. As far as the company goes we want to continue the company’s growth of 10%/year minimum. For the business, we want to develop partnerships with our clients and partners and our 10 start-up products. We would like to have collaboration relationships.

Patrick: International development is a key aspect. We keep working with our partner Tanya (a boss too!) in Bulgaria and Macedonia and our team in Asia to create more opportunities.

 

How did you find the idea of Vox Teneo’s activity?

Denis: We knew more or less what we wanted to do. We know we want to catch opportunities when they present themselves to us. When we see opportunities we take them. We do not think too much about taking a chance because we know from experience that if we do someone will jump on the opportunity and take it before us. We do not want to live with regrets.

Patrick: Computer science has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. So more than an idea, it was a natural development.

 

How has your friendship evolved ?

 

We are each other’s support and we trust each other. – Patrick

 

François: For example Patrick would call me to tell me he feels Denis is stressed out. But his call is caring because we want to support one another. It’s not like two of us are talking about the third, we never do that. Our actions are always positively founded.

Denis: I believe being three is better than being two because being an odd number is what helps us decide and take perspective. But I also believe than being a larger group makes it harder to take decisions. But I would not do this entire journey by myself. For example, because Patrick lives in Indonesia, François and I often go outside for lunch but we do not call Patrick less for that reason. When François and I eat outside we of course include naturally Vox Teneo in our discussions but it does not sound like a meeting.

FrançoisOur motto is to believe in each other’s projects even if we have doubts. We are really working with friends in a friendly atmosphere, our friendship is based on trust.

Denis: We also stress to not talk about our doubts in front of others. But there is nothing a conversation can resolve.

Patrick: We are lucky to be 3 partners. I often say a company is like a rock band: if the Rolling Stones or the Beatles had a success for so long it is mainly due to a human dynamic. Our entrepreneur friends have often shared the weight of their loneliness facing responsibilities.

 

Vox Teneo is technology centered but mostly human centered. – Patrick

 

A company is a group of people, personalities, envies, joys, angers, successes and failures. But it is also and even more a place for freedom: freedom to invent, learn, understand tomorrow’s world.

 

Our strength is that we are different but complementary. – Denis

 

Denis: We help with one’s problems weather professional or private. François is in charge of Management and Finance, Patrick is taking care of foreign development and I am focusing on technical, innovative and research and development.

FrançoisWe also always make sure to split everything in 3 equal parts. It makes it easier and is balances everything. Moreover we find it natural to do it this way and we would never do it any other way.

Denis: This is our ground basis.

 

Thank you for believing in us !

Read more about François impression of Vox Teneo’s 15th anniversary here.

This is a website dedicated to a paper molds maker – Serge Pirard, that got his trade from a Master Moldmaker – Mr Ron Macdonald, and wanted to continue the tradition of making high quality paper molds crafted by hand.

All molds are made on demand, to the paper maker specifications. If you are interested in their products, an order can be placed directly to the owner. Whether you are a professional paper maker, an artist, a teacher or simply because you love making paper, you’ll need the right tool for the job.

The site features a beautiful gallery showcasing some of the molds and tools, information about the maker and the product, and a contact form where you can contact the maker or ask questions about the products.

For more information, visit – http://papermoulds.com/

Because it’s shop o’clock somewhere

 

Neatyy is a webapp that allows people that need fashion advice to meet fashion enthusiast/experts in order to go for a session of personal shopping: fashionistas propose their availabilities on their profiles and the interested customers can book a time slot. After the shopping session, the customer is invited to share his/her experience with other user and evaluate the “Personal shopper”.

This project is a partnership between Vox Teneo and Neatyy’s founder Laura Petrement.

 

 

The project started at the beginning of 2017 and the first version of the website was launched a few months later, during the first week of September 2017.

The website is built with Laravel PHP Framework. Payment are processed through Stripe.

 

 

 

If you want to know more, visit – neatyy.com

On 25th April 2017 Vox Teneo celebrated its 15th anniversary. This means that in 2002, François Dupont, Denis Muyldermans and Patrick Logé created a now successful business. Over the years Vox Teneo has grown in Europe, but not only. Originally established in Belgium, the company is currently also present in Bulgaria, Indonesia, Macedonia, and Singapore, providing work to more than 150 people.

To celebrate the company’s 15th anniversary, the Belgian team celebrated last weekend with a team event. The purpose of this weekend was celebrating and strengthening the links of the team.

We spent two days in the south of the country at an adventure park to work in teams and face our fears with the support of teammates and colleagues. We later attended a Belgian beer tasting session followed by a dinner. We shared some childhood photos and stories I had gathered as a surprise for everyone. On the second day, we moved to another city to start a Rally with old cars and discover the area. During that day, we also had a break to slide with smaller cars on a sky slope. This weekend was filled with good moments spent in a pleasant atmosphere.

On Monday, we came back to the office with good memories and new funny stories to share and talk about around the lunch table.

Hoping you enjoyed this post and pictures, don’t forget to follow us on social media.

Best wishes from the Vox Teneo team and long life to the company!

 

P.S. – Enjoy the many selfies

As the summer days come to an end, there is a new beginning for us. This time we are opening a new office in Macedonia, beside the already existing offices in Skopje and Prilep, we are opening the doors of our newest office in the city of the consuls – Bitola!

 

Why Bitola?

Opening an office in Bitola is just a natural step in the fast paced growth of the company. We would like to preserve the culture of the “small team”, diversity and traveling that is why we are looking to respond to the ever increasing demand for people with more locations. Today we can afford having flexible working hours, work from home policy and travel policy, because smaller entities are easier to manage and make all of this freedom possible.

 

The start

We are kicking off with a new internship program for Laravel developers that will start in the middle of August 2017. The goal of this program is to share our knowledge of Laravel and find new talents that will have the chance to get a contract and join the team of Vox Teneo after the internship.

The program will last from one to three months, depending on the candidates, with eliminatory tests at the end of each month and a final test after the three months training.

After completion of this course, the students will gain solid foundation on programming techniques using PHP and Laravel Framework and knowledge on Linux system.

 

The plan for Bitola

The plan for the new office in Bitola is to attract talented PHP developers and build a team. There is no target for number of people, because we are planning to only hire the best matching candidates, not fulfilling a quota. For start we are located in a small office on Bulevar 1vi Maj number 202/ office 11. If you are interested in joining us, or want to know more, feel free to contact us and send your CVs on inform@voxteneo.com.mk.

It was a spring filled with a lot of events for the team of Vox Teneo.

Starting from the 8th of March, we followed Laracon online. It was a live stream event filled with talks from some of Laravel’s brightest minds. Some of the subjects that were covered were what’s new in Laravel 5.4, testing in Laravel, changes to the Javascript stack in Laravel and so much more.

Next up was the Bulgaria Web Summit in Sofia held on the 7th and 8th of April. We had a wonderful time in Sofia and met some amazing people and made great connections. Another reason we went to BWS was to promote the opening of the new branch in Sofia, Bulgaria.

 

 

May began with Career Launch 2.0, an event in Skopje where tech and startup companies can meet up with developers, students and freelancers and help them in answering one of the most important questions: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. The event was also enriched with talks from 7 speakers among which was our very own Tanya.

 

 

On the 27th and 28th of May we attended PHP Serbia conference in Belgrade. The highlight of this event was the talk from the creator of PHP himself – Rasmus Lerdorf.

 

 

We also celebrated the 1st of April with a masquerade party in Macedonia, and our colleagues in Indonesia had an iftar together, honoring Ramadhan moment.

 

In a digital age, when communication tools have evolved to a stage where direct human contact is no longer needed to transfer data, a laughter, look or touch can still mean a lot more than 100 pages of text or a million pictures. We chose to spend 3 days in the beautiful Zlatibor and tighten the bonds between us in the best possible way. Live.

Last month our beloved Caci (HR Manager) organized a memorable travel to the fabled Zlatibor, about 500 km away from Skopje.

The fun started from the beginning of the trip thanks to Martina and Arijan and their karaoke duets in the bus. Upon arrival each of the teams had a presentation to show what they do and inform everyone of the ongoing projects. The point of the presentations was to make everyone aware of what other people are working on, share their experience and inform everyone of the coolest things in each project. And yes, it seems that people don’t know what the others do, although we spend whole days together in the office.

The next day was reserved for games and activities. We were split up in three teams, with each team having a Team Leader. Playing “teambuilding games” is actually more fun than you would imagine, seeing your colleagues blindfolded in a row, moving like a snake is priceless, unforgettable experience, I promise.

Among other activities we also took some time to look at the sights of the beautiful Zlatibor, visited a local “kafana” (a must when you are in Serbia), ate some of the best local food (Kaymak and Prosciutto) and we also took a tour with buggies and ATVs, where the competitiveness came into play, making it so much more fun and exciting.

 

 

Of course everything wouldn’t have been so much fun if we didn’t involve some competitive spirit in the games, so there were different prizes for each of the teams, depending on their results at the end of the day. After the final count of the results, the table looked like so:

In 1st place it was Blagoja’s team:

Blagoja – Leader

Stefan

Elena

Vladimir

Bojan

Ratko

Selvir

Stavros

Igor

Dragan

 

In 2nd place it was Arsim’s team:

Arsim – Leader

Arijan

Mitre

Vanya

Dimitar

Marjan

Slavica

Nebojsha

Vladimir

Martina

Kostadin

 

And last, but not least it was Igor S.’s team:

Igor – Leader

Ljiljana

Branko

Svetlin

Martin

Tanya

Jane

Aleksandar

Eva

Simona

This Sunday Vox Teneo was once again traditionally attending the 20km of Brussels marathon.

 

 

This year we participated with 9 runners, 3 of which were reinforcement from our team in Macedonia. As usual the experience was amazing, and we can proudly say we have some results to show for it:

 

Name Country Time
François Belgium 1:25:33
Nicolas Belgium 1:32:05
Bojan Macedonia 1:49:22
Sophie Belgium 1:56:23
Hubert Belgium 1:59:38
Denis Belgium 2:01:01
Vladimir Macedonia 2:10:29
Laurent Belgium 2:14:38
Elena Macedonia 2:36:42

 

We are taking a short break now to recharge, but the preparations for next year will start very soon. See you next year at 20km of Brussels.

 

This spring we are opening doors in Sofia, Bulgaria to continue the expansion of the company in Eastern Europe. You can meet some of us at the Bulgarian Web Summit this weekend.

 

We build many small entities instead of one big enterprise

 

I am bulgarian myself, responsible for the development of Vox Teneo in Eastern Europe. We (kick) started the Macedonian branch of the company in 2014. Today we are a team of forty developers, located in a cozy house very close to the city center. Opening an office in Sofia is just a natural step in the fast paced growth of the company. We would like to preserve the culture of the “small team”, diversity and traveling that is why we are looking to respond to the ever increasing demand for people with more locations. I would never engage in managing a team of more than 50 people in one place, if you ever worked for a large company you will know what I am talking about. Today we can afford having flexible working hours, work from home policy and travel policy, because smaller entities are easier to manage and make all of this freedom possible.

 

We work towards a friendly atmosphere where knowledge flows freely instead of installing a strict training program

 

Rather than focusing on strict training program, my war is to keep the friendly atmosphere and flat structure where people feel safe and trusted and knowledge flows freely between the teams. I believe that no certification program can beat the natural mentoring through help in solving challenging problems. Taking advantage of training hours, attending conferences and e-learning platform accounts is of course a fact as well, but not the first in the priority list.

 

We don’t focus on the tools

 

We have teams working in many languages and technologies, but we try to keep the focus on five pillars (sounds religious, doesn’t it) and not on the programming language itself. I believe in this ever changing dynamic world it is important to keep our minds one abstract layer above the tools, hence we have put the focus of our thought on:

 

Architecture

Automation

Quality Assurance

New Technology Adoption

User Experience

 

We are human-centered and try to develop the talents and potentials of everyone individually, giving him/her space rather than putting him/her in a strict matrix of rules. Sometimes it is hard to track one’s passion and performance without guidance, so we use a professional HR framework, that helps people self assess themselves. It focuses on both technical and soft skills and gives ideas for improvement. It is a tool, not a rule.

 

The plan for Sofia

 

The plan for the new office of Sofia is to attract rock-star web and mobile developers and build a team to reach maximum of forty people. The target of number of people is not constrained by time, because we are planning to only hire the best matching candidates, not fulfilling a quota. We already have two talented team members, who joined in March. As a start we will be located in Betahaus, on Krum Popov 56-58 str., Sofia 1421. If you are interested in joining the already growing team, please send me your CV – tanya@voxteneo.com

At the beginning of March, Vox Teneo Asia together with Altissia Asia hosted the Business Networking Bandung (BnB) event. The event is organized three times a year in Bandung, Indonesia. We invited companies and businessmen together from various sectors, including government, in order to discuss business ideas and make connections. The events have gone very well so far, and we are fulfilling the goal of getting companies working with each other and making deals as a result of this event.

 

 

BnB took place on the 9th of March 2017 and some of the companies that attended were Indonesia Aerospace, PT. Ultrajaya, IPMI, IFI, Civil servant Bureau of Bandung, Bandung Independent School, STMIK AMIK, National University of Pasim, SAP law office, and many more. The event was also reported by local media, Galamedia news and Tribbun.

The purpose of the BnB event was:

  • To present Vox Teneo Asia and Altissia to the Indonesian people, especially the citizens of Bandung
  • To engage with prospective customers who are considered potential
  • To build strong cooperation with existing customers

 

 

With the BnB event, we were trying to establish two-way communication between the company – customers and potential customers. It assists the companies in exploring customers needs in order to create opportunities in the future. In addition to getting the businessmen and companies closer to each other, it is also intended for seeking more opportunities.

 

 

The number of attendants is growing with each event and hopefully it will continue to do so. If you are interested, you can find more information about the event on the Facebook Page – Business Networking Bandung.

Since time itself cannot be stretched it is important to carefully choose what you invest your time in. We very often lose significant amounts of the value of time by not investing in the meta-activity “time management”. The thing is that “Time Management” is a different discipline for every profession, depending on the results that need to be achieved, and there is not one global rule that an organization can impose, but there are still some best practices you can benefit from.

If you manage a project (and a client)

The first thing that pops up in Google when you search for “Time Management” is the popular schema you see below. If you are one of those animals, that receive more than 50 emails or notifications a day or in other words – a project manager, check out the advices of Ludivine Lemaire:

Priorities

Depending of your function, it is quite hard to put priorities on your daily tasks. Priorities are always moving, according to the scheduled work and the eventual unexpected requests. The best thing would be to make Friday night or Monday morning the global schedule of your week, then daily (first hour in the morning or before leaving for the day after) adjust the task you’ll do during the day.

Here is a tool you can also use if you have difficulties to assess the urgency of a request :

 

 

You have to evaluate each task : is it urgent AND important ? Do it now. Is it not urgent but quite important? Delay … It’s a difficult exercise to do but you’ll see, “practicing” is the best way to move forward.

Finally, here are 3 rules you can also use to help you dealing with tasks priorities:

  • If it takes less than 15 minutes: do it right away
  • If it takes more than 15 minutes and less than one hour: create a task on your calendar and schedule it
  • If it takes more than one our: create a meeting with yourself on your calendar

Distractions

There are different ways to deal with the distractions that take you out of “concentration mode”.

As a Project Manager, make sure to organize daily meeting on the beginning of the day (and at the end if possible), so the team you are working with is able to summarize and regroup it’s questions, and know what to do during the day.

If you have a long task that requires all your attention, just put a meeting with yourself on your calendar, book 2 working hours, try to isolate yourself for a moment in a room. If it’s not possible, you can switch of all “disruptive elements” that may disturb you: email, Skype notifications… and if you are on open space, let people know you’ll not be available for the next hour.

The most important thing to agree on, in the office, is a non intrusive way to ask help from people. Don’t go directly at the desk of someone if you have a question. If you use Skype, try to ping the person to see if he’s available or not.

Try to gather the questions you have if there are not blocking you in your current task.

 

If you code

Focus on the deliverables:

Make sure the project you are working on is scoped well and that the tasks have a clear deliverable goal and description. Once you really know what you are doing, time management will be a piece of cake.

Track your R&D time

The time spent on R&D should be framed and directed. If not, you might end up with hundred tabs open, hundreds hours spent and no results achieved. Staying conscious about the time invested in a problem will help you tremendously on being more efficient and advance faster.

Ask for help

There are two very important variables when asking for help: When and Who.

It is a very precise moment, a millisecond – right after you have tried hard enough to know you cannot cope and right before you get stuck. If you manage to hit that exact moment, you also have to know who to turn to. Usually there are many ways to solve a problem, but when programming it is particularly important to choose the good way and avoid future complications.

Useful tools:

There are a lot of useful tools out there than can help you in organizing your time and tasks, so you can choose what suites you best, but we recommend the following:

Target Process is a tool we use in our daily work. The software fits with our agile software development practices. It can be customized to support custom project management approaches and workflows. It allows you to track the time spent and time remaining (depending on the estimation) on each task and project. Task and projects are organized in a pipeline with different stages from the initials plans to the completion and can be assigned to teams and people, so you know who is doing what at all times, and follow their progress.

Trello is another useful tool you can use for your personal tasks. It is very similar to Target Process in a way that you can set your tasks in different stages depending on their urgency, importance and how far are they to completion.

Photos from the New Year Party in Che Bar in Skopje

Vox Teneo puts a big emphasis on the people. Offering the employees flexible working hours, chance to learn, investing in trainings and traveling between the offices in Belgium, Indonesia and Macedonia is a regular practice. But not only their progress and professional improvement is important. Culture and the spirit in the company is what really makes a difference.

Tanya Tanevska – Director East Europe, Slavica Grkovska – Local HR Manager

Belgium, Indonesia and Macedonia  have different cultures and different people. When traveling, the teams are involved in not only work related activities.We use the free time to check out the local sights and scenes, taste the local food and drinks, get to know the tradition and culture. So, for example if you go to Belgium you have to try the Belgian chocolate and the famous Belgian beers, if you go to Indonesia, you can’t miss Bali and the Volcanoes, If you haven’t tried Ajvar and Rakia, and haven’t gone out partying, it’s like you haven’t been to Macedonia…

From left to right: Vladimir, Aleksandar, Martin, Tanya, Jane, Igor P., Igor S., Slavica, Martina, Ljiljana, Ivana

Macedonians, being warm and welcoming people will never leave you hungry or thirsty and will make sure you have a real good time.

There was one such occasion recently where two of our colleagues from Belgium were visiting our office in Macedonia. Of course, these exchanges are mainly aimed at sharing knowledge and experiences, and working together on the spot, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun after working hours.

So we go back to the title… What does it mean? I can tell you my personal experience with these parties as a host, but I found out that the guests have a completely different vision of the things going on. For example, when we go out we like changing many different locations and meet as many people as possible. Being the softies we usually are, we easily make friends, and by our side, you are sure to make some as well.

From “kafana” to a pub, from a bar to a club, the chances are huge that you will visit more than 5 places in one single night. And make a friend or two in every single one of them. Making friends here is easy. In every single place you go into, you can easily find someone to talk to or share a conversation with. You are never alone in Macedonia. You will be welcomed and treated like the long lost sibling of the family.

From left to right: Martin, Luc, Stavros, Tanya, Blagoja, Eva, Dime, Elena, Slavica, Ljiljana

Another specific thing about Macedonians is that we are usually really loud. Especially after a few dinks :P. And if the song “hits us”… Oh boy… Be prepared to be yelled at (what we think is singing), hugged, kissed, respected, invited in our home, cursed (you better put up those hands and look like you have a good time), hugged again, someone is buying you a drink and toasts are going all around. So I can see how some people can find that overwhelming and even scary. But don’t worry, it’s all in good spirit and in the name of having fun.

From left to right: Selvir, Manuel, Blashko, Goce, ALeksandar, Mihail, Blagoja, Filip.

So what does “Party like you are in Macedonia” mean? Go out, have fun, meet new people, make new friends, drink, visit 4 clubs in one night after going to a “Kafana”, sing, dance, yell at someone, love everyone, party till dawn , and have that “that-was-an-awesome-night” feeling and want to do it all over again the next night.

If you ever get the chance visit Macedonia, don’t hesitate! Go and have a blast! You won’t regret it.

From left to right: Arijan, Zoran, Ljiljana, Vanya, Manon, Slavica

Altissia International has recently completed the commercial release of an innovative dictation software in collaboration with Vox Teneo.

Vox Teneo’s contribution to the collaboration involved the integration of newly developed APIs into several components of the application to handle authentication, user management and license management.  The project involved collaboration between two development teams in two separate companies. Simultaneous integration of complex components for the first time can often cause some bumps in the road.  To overcome these difficulties we had to work hard and always be synchronized.

On Vox Teneo’s side Ben was a Project Manager, Aleksandar a tech lead, Eva and Elena – Java developers

As a Project Manager, Ben did carry the responsibility for the successful completion of the project. He was coordinating the collaboration between the teams and making sure things run smoothly. Following the practices of Agile software development, where human interaction and working software come first he managed to overcome the difficulties and drive forward the project until it was deployed.

Aleksandar, an experienced Tech Lead, located in Vox Teneo’s Skopje office joined us just a few months back. He successfully lead the project thanks to his in depth enterprise solutions knowledge and diverse technological experience. In a team with the talented java developers Eva and Elena in just a few months the integration was complete.

The project has already received significant media coverage.

We are proud to announce that we have launched the intranet of AG Real Estate, a subsidiary of AG Insurance – the leading player on the Belgian insurance market. It is a Drupal based social platform with custom developed features.

A project for better internal communication

Users can like content, share it, comment on it, post new content. There is also an internal e-commerce section.

The intranet is the default tool for employees’ intercommunication and content exchange. With the implementation of Single Sign-On (SSO) with Active Directory Federation Service (ADFS) we provided a secure connection for sharing of identity information between trusted business partners.

Another fundamental reason of implementing the AG Real Estate intranet was to reduce the number of emails exchanged between the employees, thus introducing the custom made notification system integrated in the intranet. The users also have an agenda for internal and external events.

AG social media photo

 

Employees are hired by their skills, but are fired by their attitude

 

In this world, there are two kinds of people. First one is the Proactive, and second one is the Reactive.

How do we know if we are Proactive or Reactive? Simply by looking at our daily words.

 

REACTIVE PROACTIVE
Maybe i will try… I will do it!
I can’t change! I am me! I can be a better person
I can do nothing Let’s find out the possibilities
I am forced I choose it!
I can not Must be a way
You destroy my day, my mood My mood is my responsibility
I behave like this because of you My behavior is my responsibility
I was not promoted because my boss I will work harder and smarter to be promoted

 

Reactive people are controlled from outside. Reactive people always blame others i.e.: environment, family, education or race for their failures in life. They are always the victim. Their failure happens because of some situation, their boss, or even God. They can’t control their mood, they can’t control their behavior, thus they can’t control their future. Reactive people are easily offended, easily angered, first to complain and they always wait for something to happen to them. They change only if it is really needed.

Proactive people focus more on their ability to adapt, to change and to make adjustments who focus on the opportunities and possibilities. They can control their feelings, mood and behavior, and as a result they usually get what they want. If they don’t, they will control their feelings and try using different approach of the given situation. It is not common for them to get easily offended and think wisely before acting, which makes them quite responsible for their choices. It is easy for them to quickly recover from most bad situations and they always seek ways to make everything happen, focusing on things they can change.

Proactive people are controlled from inside.

 

Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.

 

In my experience, it has been hard to deal with reactive people. So, here are some ideas on how to be more proactive:

 

Focus on the things you can change.

Many people focus on the things they can’t change or affect. They worry about the rain instead of preparing an umbrella and worry for what people say about them, instead of controlling their behavior. They worry about the future, instead of preparing for it.

If we keep focusing on the things we can’t change, we will be worried, stressed and weak.

So, learn to focus on what you can do, what you can change and what the solutions is. Some aspects we can control are: our emotions, our attitude, our choices and our response.

 

Whiteboard Vox Teneo

 

Change our Paradigm

Paradigm is the way we think, the way we perceive anything. Two people can see the same picture, but have two different perceptions.

Many times, our paradigms are not complete. For example, a student doesn’t like a math teacher because he gets angry easily. One day he is scolded because he doesn’t understand algebra. That leads him to think that he is bad at math and that he has poor logic. So, it was not the point that he is bad at math, it was just because he was being scolded by the teacher he hated, so it was hard for him to understand the algebra.

Even worse, our paradigm can determine our destiny. So, if you have any nonconstructive paradigm about your self, about others and about situations, you should change them to the constructive one. Try questioning any aspects you thought you are weak at. Find a way to improve in the area you want to be good at.

 

Realize that we can choose our RESPONSE

Do you realize that if we have any habit, we don’t even think when we do that. For example, you start learning how to drive a car. You must think which pedals to press. You learn to see the rear mirrors if you want to turn left or right. Once you master driving, you can press the brakes immediately if something suddenly appears in your way, even without thinking how to stop the car. You automatically drive to your office while you think about your daily plans.

It’s the same case with your response. Most of the time you respond without thinking. Remember that you still have free choice before responding. Here’s the picture:

Choice

By mastering these 3 points you will start to be proactive. Remember that your life is your responsibility. You have the power to control yourself!

Photo by: Helloquence

There is an ongoing debate in the IT world of what is better: a client that has experience in IT or not; client who knows what he wants or client that leaves everything to the IT team. Here are a some thoughts on the different scenarios.

1. Client with NO technical or software development background that is NOT interested in being involved in the process of development.

Pros:

Everyone does what they do best. There was this famous quote by Steve Jobs “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”.

Cons:

Lack of communication. People speaking different languages might end up enriching each other, but might also end up lost in translation.

Advises:

Make him participate. Provide as clear communication as possible, that will make it easy for the client to process the information and be involved.

Focus on the requirements. In this case you should gather as much information from the client as you can, foreseeing as many scenarios he didn’t think of as you can.even if he is not interested in that and It is crucial to analyze the business case and prepare a functional analysis prepare good business analysis that would be presented to him and let him decide he will decide what business value do the proposed feature have for her business. is in the system that you are proposing to him.

Work agile. Involve the client throughout the process, communicate on small milestones to make sure whether this is what the client really wants and confirm the business value of the features you deliver. Even it the features list is confirmed after the functional analysis, put the priority on what is good for the application and not on what was agreed. “Human interaction is more important than documentation. Arriving at the end of the project and figuring out that the whole logic of the application is wrong is definitely not what neither the development team nor the client wants.

2. Client with NO technical or software development background that IS interested in being involved in the process of development.

Pros:

He is your partner, helping you analyze the business and find together the most suitable functional solutions.

Cons:

The non technical client being involved in the process might interfere in the technical work and led to poor technical decisions.

Advice:

Be strong. Being non technical doesn’t mean without opinion. You might get in a situation where the client insists on a technical solution (obsolete or not suitable technology for example), and obeying the rule “the client is always right” might lead to poor decisions.

3. Client who has experience in software development but does NOT get involved in the process of development (Lacks free time…).

Pros:

This kind of client knows what you are talking about and understands the solutions offered to him.

Cons:

Having the critical thinking of somebody who is knowledgeable, but not involved might make the decision making process tough and therefore lead to lower productivity and motivation.

Advice:

Agree on everybody’s role and responsibilities before the project starts to avoid potential problems in the future.

4. Client who HAS experience in software development and IS  involved in the project.

Pros:

A partner, who knows what you are talking about. This is actually the dream client of every developer.

Cons:

Your ego might suffer 😉

Advice:

Do not keep secrets and talk about any kind of a problem connected with the project, trust them because they are the crucial part of your team.

If you ask me about my personal favorite type of client, I will for sure choose option 4.. You have additional member in the team for no cost who loves the project and knows perfectly the expected outcomes from the application. With day to day actions he, she or they will easily solve possible ongoing problems and at the end will know perfectly how to use the new tool that is delivered. I was happy to meet my dream client in the recent past and be currently involved in the development of her project.

photo by: Markus Spiske

A developer’s life is mostly a permanent learning curve.

First you learn the basic skills of software development at school. After that, at your first job, you acquire some knowledge of (good, hopefully) enterprise practices. Then you will have to learn new technologies and tools, almost every day, to keep up with an IT sector that moves faster than the light.

Who wants to code Turbo Pascal or GW-Basic as of today ?
And also, who would hire you to program those dinosaurs things ?

123123123

 

So, as a Developer, you will have to challenge yourself constantly,  during your whole career, to keep up to date with the market.

Therefore, It is very important to manage your career wisely, and make sure that learning and evolution are occupying a big place in it. Of course, you could always learn by yourself during evenings and weekends, but that’s not enough, and you need to get a private life too.
So, You should definitely acquire new skills at work.

As for latest technologies, best practices, architecture, unit testing, behavior driven development, DevOPS,…. And other cool stuffs, everyone always knows everything about it….
Yes, yes, blablabla!!!

When you ask who is really implementing it on real life projects, in professional applications…

Nobody, radio silence… sic!

3213321

 

You should evaluate your employer!

You should definitely evaluate any potential employer before applying for a position, to avoid being hired by a company that uses practices of last century, or one that will squeeze you like a lemon on doomed projects without any training program.

But how to evaluate a company? Some advanced tests and methodologies exist, but are quite complex and barely usable in this case. Here comes the Joel test.

 

The Joel test

From the author, Joel on Software:

The Joel test is a highly irresponsible, sloppy test to rate the quality of a software team

 

The joel test is a survey of 12 simple questions to roughly evaluate a software development company in 3 minutes. There are lots of discussions about this test on the Internet.

Of course, this is neither an exact science nor a precise rating system,

but, in my opinion, the score truly reflects the company’s culture and investment in modern software development practices.

See the details here.

Any software company should rank at least 10…
while most companies are getting … a horrible 2 or 3!

Do make the test right now!! How does your current employer rank??

  • Do you use source control?
  • Can you make a build in one step?
  • Do you make daily builds?
  • Do you have a bug database?
  • Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  • Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  • Do you have spec?
  • Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  • Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  • Do you have testers?
  • Do candidates write code during their interviews?
  • Do you have hallway usability testing?

 

 

How does Vox Teneo rank?

At Vox Teneo, we are no exception, we started very low on the scale…

But with the good will and efforts of the whole company: management and developers, we improved a lot, and we are now proudly advertising a score of

 

 

 

Wait, there’s more, we have a 13th item in our Vox Test!

Our devs are also well… a little on the geek side sometimes, so we decided to add an extra item for them in the Joel test.

  • Are developers allowed to practice Nerf skills at the office?

 

What is a nerf ?

 

A nerf is a stress relieving, eye blinding, foam dart shooting toy

 

112233

More info here.

Credits: nerf.hasbro.com

 The Vox Teneo Nerf team

Live by the code, die by the nerf

 IMG_20160630_163457

 

This is what happen when a Project Manager asks the devs to deploy a production release on a Friday afternoon.

Deploy on Friday

A little more about Vox Teneo

Vox Teneo’s core business is the development and integration of web applications, for corporate clients and the public sector, featuring a lot of big names.

Our main value is “human”.
We wish to see happy people at the office, so we try to provide the best working conditions and interesting career evolution paths.

http://www.voxteneo.com/team/

We operate a strong permanent training program (the Vox Academy),  that allows everyone to master the needed skills to fulfill his/her position, and also to acquire new competences.

We do also invest a lot in new technologies (lately we are quite hot on Xamarin) to propose efficient, modern solutions to the clients, and entertain our guys.

At production level, we make no compromise, and strive for best practices and architecture.
Test Driven Development is mandatory here, and we push it one step further with Business Driven Development, using automated functional testing.
We feature a full DevOPS department, to ensure Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment for all applications and technologies.

 

Wanna check if the grass is really greener @Vox ?

Check the open positions http://www.voxteneo.com/jobs/

Feel free to contact and visit us anytime:  http://www.voxteneo.com/contact

Prior to lending my first “office job” i had experience in multiple job positions and most of them involved some kind of physical activity. Getting from a “physical” job to desk in an office can be a big shock for someone, and I had that happen to me. Being used to almost always being on foot, and involved in communication with a lot of people, sitting behind a desk in a quiet office was a completely new experience for me. I was also one of those people that thought office jobs can’t be as demanding as physical jobs but at times i found myself going home from the office exhausted.

So I decided I have to take action and make some small changes in my working routine in order to better my working experience. So here are few of my tips that i used myself, to feel more comfortable and be more productive while at work.

(disclaimer: only use this if your office allows it)

  1. Personalize your working environment.

Sure you were given a desk and the needed equipment when you started your new job, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it sterile and boring. Changing a simple thing like your desktop background can bring you small joy, but why stop there? Don’t be afraid to go further in the customization of your working environment. Bring your favorite small toy to work and keep it on your desk. Get a small plant and nurture it right there in your office. Go as far as you can with the customization of your personal working space, so every time you come to work and see that cool desk of yours, it will make you smile and make you get by your day with ease.

 

SmallCar

 

  1. Have something to challenge your mind other than your work.

You will often find yourself stuck on something and it seems like you can’t find the solution no matter what you try. In this situation I recommend getting your mind on something challenging but in a different way. I personally mostly like the Rubic’s cube, but whatever floats your boat is just fine. Do a puzzle, a crossword, play a mini-game, you can do literally anything that will get your focus on for a short while on another thing aside from your work, helping you reset your thoughts and continue with work with fresh thoughts. This “technique” has helped me on many occasions just block out everything for 5-10 minutes and starting over again.

Rubic's cube office desk

 

  1. Listen to music

There is nothing that relaxes me more than a good tune. Put on your headset and isolate yourself from the surroundings. With my job in particular being more creative work and writing, you can easily get distracted and taken away from your element. Don’t limit yourself to listening just one genre of music, experiment till you find what soothes you the most in the moment and for the job you have.

 

Headphones office desk

 

  1. Take short breaks

Don’t be afraid to the get out of your chair and take a breather. No one can sit in one place for 8 hours at a time and stare at a screen vente de cialis en france. Whenever you feel the need to get up and take a small break, feel free to do so. As previously mentioned, office work can be tiring and exhausting so take some time for yourself. It will surely increase your productivity and make you feel more relaxed.

 

Marjan's Mug office desk

 

  1. Set goals and reward yourself

You just finished a big task that you spend countless hours on? Reward yourself! Set a goal that you want to achieve on a daily basis and reward yourself for completion. But be strict with yourself! No rewards until the job is done, and if you feel adventurous you can even set punishments for yourself. No coffee, no cigarette, no break until the goal you set is met.

 

To Do List office desk

 

These five simple things have helped me a lot in adjusting in my new working environment. Relief yourself from stress and make your working space cosier and cooler. You will have no trouble getting through your work day with ease.

At the end of July, I had the opportunity to visit and work in our office in Macedonia for a week. This journey had few purposes. The most important one was to meet the developers I’ve worked with for almost 2 years, the second one was to work together with the QA team in Skopje in order and come back with a list of results, and the last objective was to discover a country and a culture.

 

Arriving in Macedonia, the first surprise was of course, the weather! I left the Belgian rain and I arrived to find a beautiful blue sky and a shining sun.

After a nice lunch with Slavica (The Local HR Manager) and Zoran (The QA Engineer in Skopje), I finally arrived at the office. It’s a such lovely place, settled in a big house, close to the city center . I was so excited to meet all my colleagues! As a guest of course I brought something to represent the place I come from, and what other way to represent Belgium other than sweet Belgian chocolate? (of course!)  It was at this point that I found out that Macedonians love sweets and food in general, (conclusion that later turned out to be really true 🙂 )because they were all really happy and grateful for the gift.

 

My first day at work in Macedonia was dedicated to communication. It was a completely different experience to discuss about our work and Vox Teneo’s projects with the people in person, instead of from behind a computer screen.

 

With all the contemporary communication tools remote teams work is totally possible, but face to face communication has it’s undeniable advantages.

I had only a week in Macedonia, so I wanted to make most of it. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the culture, the food, and the folklore. And believe me, one week is not enough to learn a lot about Macedonia. So my colleagues gave me a crash course of the Macedonian lifestyle.

 

First off I have to say that Macedonians are very warm and welcoming people. From arrival to departure, they made sure I feel comfortable there and wanted to give me the best experience possible. I noted that I quickly took my habit in our office, and I know why; my colleagues are so benevolent and friendly. I have not met all Macedonian people but I’m pretty sure that we are lucky to work with them.  From going to “Kafana”, to just hanging out after work in the office yard, I had a really nice stay.

 

Now let’s go to the food. Well, Macedonian people obviously love cheese, bread and of course Rakjia! As i said before, they love their food and they eat a LOT! I had the opportunity to taste a lot of traditional dishes likes Tavce Gravce, Kebapi, Nafora and a lot more. All their meals are huge, diverse and most importantly, delicious! It’s very different from Belgian food.

 

Of course, I’m from Belgium so we have to talk about the beer! Well, they have some good beers like Skopsko and  Zlaten Dab, and although I really liked them, nothing compares to a good Belgian beer.  However, they definitely beat us with Rakija (a traditional alcoholic drink). Personally, I’m not a big fan, but I had to taste it (homemade, please!).

 

During the weekend, Zoran, Vlatko and Tina (members of the QA and .NET Team) took me to Matka. It’s a canyon and one of the best tourist spots in the country. It’s around 1 hour from Skopje  and it’s just beautiful. There is a river and a big dam with a lake where a lot of people come to walk, canoe, climb rocks or just relax and have a nice meal.

 

It’s such a peaceful place, because of it’s remoteness and the surrounding nature. I would highly recommend visiting it!

We also took a cable cart and spent some time to admire the view from the top of the Vodno Mountain near Skopje.

 

I would like to say a special thanks to Zoko who took me everywhere and taught me a lot about Macedonian culture (Koze koze koze).

 

I hope I will have the opportunity to go back to Macedonia, I really enjoyed my journey there. Especially meeting the lovely people. Finally, I suggest everyone to go and visit Macedonia.You won’t reagret it!

 

 

Every company has its own path to the success. For some, success is only reaching the financial goals without considering the feelings and needs of their employees, and in this world full of monotonous routines, people very often forget about their dreams. Being scared to take risks, they just try to “fit in” in the society, so they don’t fight for what they want and they slowly but surely become prisoners and robots in that kind of companies. But fortunately not all the companies are like that. Some of them really believe that having happy employees is the path for long term success.

 

Luckily, we are part of that kind of IT company. In my opinion Vox Teneo is one of the rarest companies that despite the profits looks after their employes’ dreams and needs. It offers high quality knowledge not only to experienced people, but also to potential young talents (including me in this second group). Working for this company you get the chance to work on enormous projects, gather knowledge from experienced developers, learn best practices for the technology you are interested…. All you need is just to be ambitious, talented and interested in learning to be part of the team. They will guide you all the way after. They spend and invest time for training the employees, which is really important, especially if you are a beginner like me. In three months as an intern and three months as an employee I learned here more about mobile and web application development than I ever did during my studies, so i am really thankful for that.

 

And the good things do not stop with the trainings and providing knowledge to their employees. When they see that you are willing to collaborate and that you work hard, they will try to motivate you even more. Me and two of my colleagues got a chance to visit the office in Belgium. It was for work of course, but who does not like travelling? And it’s never forbidden to mix the work with pleasure (after working hours of course :P), is it?. Isn’t the feeling that someone is valuing your progress and work great? We got to meet people that we haven’t met before. All those Skype voices and pictures from previous Skype meetings and HipChat conversations finally got a real projection. Wanted or not the cultural differences make us different in some ways, but that’s a really good thing. We were given a chance to share knowledge, the different point of views, different habits, way of work etc. It was an amazing opportunity for us to upgrade our skills, our personality, to see diversity in the way of living. Yeah we learned a lot of things, shared a lot of things, but enough about that. Let’s get to the fun part of the trip.

 

“The stories that the people there are cold and not welcoming disappeared the moment we started getting to know each other.”

Thanks to the company we got the chance to work in the office in Belgium. And when someone gives you the chance to visit a country which is more evolved than your own, to see different traditions, to taste varieties of food  you never stop exploring. Some of my colleagues were there for the first time, so they were even more excited. We even made a list of places we wanted to see in our three week visit there and of course we were already planning how to try as many types of beer as we can. So we packed our bags and on the second of August we were already there. I am not really a morning person, so the fact that the flight was super early in the morning was not something I was looking forward to. The moment we made a step on that airport we were making plans how to uncheck all the places from our list. On the first day we met everyone in the office. The stories that the people there are cold and not welcoming disappeared the moment we started getting to know each other. After two hours flight and one hour getting the baggage and passing all the control at the airport the only thing we needed was food. So we were so happy when we saw that our Belgian colleagues bought some food for us. We rested a little bit and went down to start the working day. That day, despite all the wish to start unchecking the places from our list, the tiredness defeat us. One thing I really liked about the apartment was that it was in the same building as the offices. Who does not want to get up only 15 minutes before the working hours and still be on time for work?

 

“You can’t say you were in Belgium if you don’t try as many kinds of beer as you can, can you?”

The first couple of days our colleagues showed us around. They helped us find the nearest shops, suggested nice places to eat and drink etc. After few days getting used to the new environment we were ready for exploring. And what better way to start exploring than with the famous Belgian beers? You can’t say you were in Belgium if you don’t try as many kinds of beer as you can, can you? So we immediately started working on it. We never ordered the same beer twice, so within our stay of three weeks I can say we tried maybe not all of the beers, but we got most of them.. I was really surprised how many different kinds of beer they have. From blonde to dark, from light and fruity to strong and bitter –  there is a beer for every taste.

 

Another thing that was really different than Macedonia was the architecture. There was not a single bad looking building. Even the smallest ones had that special Belgian character. They were all charming small and most of them with brick facade. We were surprised that in some cities there are even rules how to build the houses, what materials to use etc. That was the case with the first city we visited, that was not on our list. It was a suggestion from our colleagues. It was a small student city named Louvain-la-Neuve. With it’s charm and the location (near our apartment) it was our choice to spend not only that night there, but several more. All the buildings had that orangey bricks and walls. On the other hand there is Brussels with more modern buildings and monuments. Our colleagues were showing us the beauty of Brussels: the cathedrals, monuments, the palace, the bars etc. The only thing we hate about Brussels are the annoying traffic jams. Too many people in little space. For me being hopeless romantic as I am, my favourite city there was Brugge. It is very similar to Venice with its water channels and boat tours. The amazing cathedrals, the good restaurants made me like the city even more. What is surprising there were more tourists than locals on the streets. My colleagues did not agree on this one with me, they prefered Gent. The architecture of the buildings, the nice people was the main reason why that city is their favourite one. Since it was summer why not visit the seaside? We were in a city called Knokke. That was a different city than the others we went to. The buildings were more modern, it was more crowded. The beaches and beach bars were amazing, but the water was too cold for us, because we as Macedonians are used to hot weather, so we didn’t dare to swim there.

 

The food is something that is very different as well. I’ve never tried that many different kinds of sauces(If there is meat, there is some special sauce, usually made with alcohol.), cheese and chocolate as I did there. Another thing that I never imagined that i would try is raw meat. Yeah you read right. Raw meat.. And on my surprise I really liked it. We tried the belgian waffles as well. And i found the secret ingredient which makes them that special – pearl sugar was the secret key guys. Tried to make them and I nailed it. 😀 It is true when they say, Belgium has the best chocolate in the world. I think they can make chocolate with flavours of everything that is eatable.

 

“History has made a great impact on the country”.

They speak different languages in different parts of the country, like we do in Macedonia as well.

 

We should not underestimate the party life as well. They know how to have fun. The pubs and bars are more than enough to have a good night out. The people may look a little bit cold at first sight, but when you start talking with someone that immediately changes.

 

Overall it was an amazing experience and we are really grateful that we got the chance to go there. We restored our batteries and are ready for new challenges and trips in future. Keeping the employees motivated is something very important for the overall progress and success of any company. And Vox Teneo in my opinion is on the right path to success. Who would not like to have a job and be able to travel and upgrade himself/herself and progress in the same time? If that’s what you are looking for it is really easy: check out our open job positions and be a step closer to joining the team and the new adventures.

 

 

The main production points for Vox Teneo are located in three different countries : Belgium, Indonesia and Macedonia. Very often, the employees of Vox Teneo travel in between these three countries in order to share the knowledge acquired while working on different types of projects, to synchronize the working process for the three locations and of course, to keep the human factor in our company, since it’s always easier to work with somebody after meeting them live, rather than working with a person on the other side of the world that you know only by his/hers profile picture on Skype or Hipchat.

 

So, a few weeks ago, I was very happy to find out that I am going to be part of the team that will visit Vox Teneo in Indonesia! Me and my team are located in Macedonia and as a matter a fact, just a couple of days ago before my departure for Indonesia, we got a “joined” project with the Indonesian team and it was interesting to synchronize with them and get to a point  where things were moving along smooth and easy.

 

Still our communication comes down to Skype calls with(at this point) people I have not met ever in my life.

So there I was, packing my bags and off we went! I honestly didn’t know what to expect there because of the culture difference we have, the language barrier and the fact that this was going to be the first time that I would meet the Indonesian team live.

 

To my great content when we arrived we had the warmest welcome ever from the team there! Everybody were super nice to us, we met the IT team, the development team, the marketing department, and everywhere we were welcomed with big smiles, and this was just the beginning. I have never in my life met people that were so eager to help and assist you, since keep in mind, we did come in a country we did not know, in a big city(Bandung) where at least, I was for the first time. As amazing meeting the team was and spending time with them, the important part was yet to come, and by that I mean, we did have a crazy schedule and a long list of things that we wanted to achieve  professionally during our stay there.

 

So, the very next day we came we started with the trainings that we needed to hold there. The team there was super motivated, the guys at the training came with nice questions. The part I liked most was the discussion we had because of the different approaches that we have taken when working on the projects and finding a common ground for both of the teams on how to continue unified, while taking the best of both worlds.

 

In fact, it was very interesting to work more on the synchronization between the teams in the three countries.

We managed to work on and extend on the existing guidelines for development, best practises for the development process and sync between the existing development teams. We managed to hold all the trainings with the teams and the teams were participating, open to new things, improving the old ways and coming with suggestions for the improvement in general.

 

And as interesting and professionally fulfilling it was to be a part of all of those things, the part I liked the most was the creative process of these whole trip. Sometimes we manage to get into this vicious cycle when we see things just from one side with the same people every day. And while in somebody’s eyes from the outside it might look like having such distinct cultures at one place would be difficult to handle, I think that Vox Teneo is a sole example that the case is exactly the opposite. It IS the fact that we have so many different cultures in house that makes us stronger in the sense that we are always open to suggestion, we as a company are capable to adjust to different environments easy and quick, we learn to be more respectful towards other people and every day we learn more and more about our cultures and personalities in the most positive way possible.

Being able to have such a huge culture diversity inside our company is one of our biggest strengths, since we are dealing with all kinds of cultures in house, it is very easy for us to work with clients from ANY part of the world and accommodate to their needs without any problems.

Location, location, location…

As I have noticed so far, when Vox Teneo chooses the locations for their sister companies, there are multiple parameters are taken into consideration. Choosing the place where with the most resources, that would fit the financial targets, that would be most convenient for the employees and for the clients. So lucky for the team that went to Indonesia, there was one non-working day while our stay in Indonesia was in progress. So, with help from our colleagues in the Indonesia office we managed to sneak off to Bali for the weekend. This is just one example of the many,  many advantages that our employees get while working in Vox Teneo.

 

So, in the end… I am happy to say that I think we are a  great example of how a mix of many cultures is able to function together, employee wise and client wise at the same time. The presence of so many different cultures, allows us to be even more creative, even more dynamic and even more adjustable.
Our family keeps on growing all the time, and we are happy to open our doors for you! Check out our open job positions!

The internationalization of Vox Teneo started in 2009 with the first company registered outside of Belgium. Today we are present in five countries, two continents and have clients from all around the globe. Like many other companies in the tech industry we are taking advantage of all the online tools available, that make it possible for development teams to collaborate, but we are also facing all the challenges of remote teams management.

 

We Do Write, Read and Speak. One language.

 

Well, as somebody once said – “this is common sense, but sense is not common”, that is why this common sense statement comes to the top. People forget to share what they plan to do, what they have done, but most often they forget to read what needs to be done and to ask about the things they did not understand. There are people slobbery to the language they leave in the chatrooms, comments and documentation that annoys other people, who stop reading. And this is where things break. Communication should be deeply rooted in the company culture  if you are planning to form international collaboration. Communication should be nourished, stimulated and rewarded.

 

We Meet Live

 

Remote is not Agile.

 

Like most of the contemporary software development companies, we are working Agile. The focus is on the working software and the developers, on the business value of the features and on the ability to change. Clean code, continuous integration, DevOps and communication is how we get there. According to the Agile Manifesto nothing replaces the face to face interaction, and having offices in two more destination makes it challenging to be “Agile”.

 

We travel a lot. When it comes to generating ideas, solving problems and organizing the schedule, written communication cracks. Video conference tools make it better, but still… Nothing replaces the physical presence.

 

That is why, to be really Agile and productive we make sure to plan sufficient travelling budgets. The impact only one meeting can have on the direction and flow of the project is in most cases is enough to justify an airplane ticket and apartment for a few nights.

 

Knowing your peers personally makes the whole process a whole lot easier too.

 

We Are Like A Coworking Space

The nature of coworking spaces is to inspire collaboration between individuals and teams who can function by themselves. This is what we are trying to achieve in Vox Teneo. We “modular” approach, where small teams are part of one big whole, but are not totally dependant on each other.

 

We use a web based project management application – Target Process. Everyone has access and everyone can see what is in the pipeline. It is there where people are assigned to teams. We have autonomous entities within the company. .NET, C&S, PHP, Java, WordPRESS, Drupal, Communication, HR, Administration Teams… One team is in the same office, so you know your peers and usually work with them. Being part of smaller groups makes the company culture pleasant to work in, but also easier to work in.

 

Having guests in the three countries from another office is almost a permanent status.

 

We are totally in line with the culture of Atlassian, the software development company that developed great remote team communication tools, check out their thoughts on Remote Teams.

 

We Look for Partners, not Human Resources

It’s been long time now, since the people in organizations do matter. The name “Human Resources” is outdated. If we look at the Factories and Enterprises from the past century, control was the method used to keep efficiency high. Today, rarely a highly educated Millennial developer would tolerate a Big Brother attitude from the behalf of his Manager. That is why in Vox Teneo we have a flat structure, where no one is really on top of the other. We have different roles with different responsibilities, corresponding to the professional maturity and talents of the employees.

 

Now imagine, that you have a flat structure AND remote teams. Achieving efficiency starts to sound like a dream, but there is a way. And the way is to have a company of responsible and self-managed people that match with the culture and high quality standards. Those people are more partners than employees or “resources”. People who are together in what they do and do it for themselves. This very same type of people who wouldn’t like their freedom to be sacrificed for less responsibilities.

 

Having a clear assessment process and clearly defined responsibilities together with a tight recruitment procedure makes an efficient company with flat structure possible.

 

We Are Honest, Not Politically Correct (well… try to be kind)

Many speak about the “cultural differences” that international companies working with remote teams face. Obeying the rules of political correctness, and being afraid that you might hurt somebody’s tender feelings may trigger bigger problems though. Open communication always suffer if things are left untold and this is the reason problems stay unsolved. The truth is that fluent communication requires honesty and this is what we are trying to inspire in people. Openly share their opinion, no matter if positive or negative. Check three short stories about miscommunication caused by cultural differences here.

Here are three short stories to illustrate what miscommunication caused by cultural differences might look like:

There is no “No” in Asia

Imagine that you are a project manager from the Western World, working with a remote JAVA development team in the far East. You are dealing perfectly well with your client and happily sending the tasks to your peers, that gladly accept them on the other end of the world. One day, you find out that one of your tasks was not completed, then another one, then one more, than at once you figure out you have 36 hours left to complete 1076 more tasks and you are on the verge of a breakdown, but simply cannot leave your client alone now, because there is an event planned, that requires your web application to be online at that particular hour. Not believing what is going on, after everything was perfect and you got all the “yes, no problem” messages on HipChat.

 

You take a deep breath, try to fight back the frustration and start investigating what caused all the problems. At once you realize most of the requirements you’ve sent were unclear and some of them misleading. You gave requirements that were unacceptable, but you got a “Yes…” on the other side of the line for a reason you would most probably never understand… And now it is too late, there is nothing you can do. The project has failed. You wild depressed in your chair. It is 6pm and you don’t even have the energy to go home….

And than you receive a message from the other side, yes, this same side you are mad at. Somebody wants to help. Than you receive one more message, and one more from a different person. At once you have a development team of 12 people at 12 am their time willing to stay with you until the end and YES, to help you. Your mood slowly changes, and you can feel motivation fleeing through your body. You jump back on the mouse and keyboard and start revising the requirements. After one sleepless night and a half, 46 coffees and thousands lines of code, you cannot believe it, but you have the project ready to be deployed on the production server…

Now you know, there is no “No”.

We are not yelling, this is how we speak in Macedonia

Imagine that you are a Software Engineer with more than 15 years of experience and a whole lot to share with the younger developers in your company. You are about to visit the newly opened office in Skopje, Macedonia and meet the newly formed Drupal Development team. All very young and enthusiastic about their new job.

You have meticulously prepared training materials to share for the kickstart of this new Drupal project. At 08:54 am you enter the tiny but cozy conference room and clean the whiteboard, while you are waiting for the team that comes at 9:04am. You share your screen and open your presentation, open your mouth to start speaking and right before a sound comes out of your month you have already received our first question “Are we going to develop it in  Drupal 7?”.

This was just how a session of 4 exhausting hours began. You can not even tell in a linear story what exactly happened, you just know that you have a headache and that you had to fight back the intensive downpour of questions, comments and ideas for four hours not being sure at the end that you finished the presentation you had initially prepared.

 

 

After the working day is finally over, you have to drink a few Rakia-s to loosen a bit, and are finally able to render what has happened during the ideas chaos in that room. At once you realize that the implication you got from the team would actually greatly impact the quality of the project and smile…

😉 doesn’t mean she’s flirting in Belgium

Imagine you have just started working in a new company. You get immediately involved in a project and the project manager puts you in a chat room with the designer, who’s profile picture is so hot. (Excuse my French). Staying alone with her even in a virtual room is a bit intimidating.

You start discussing the design she created. On top of the cool profile picture she has, the girl seems to be talented as well. You start working on the Front End development. The next day you deploy the first version of the homepage. Having in mind your passion for the detail, you have put this twisted roll over animation on the icons that was not required. You share the link and receive back “I like the rollover effect ;)” . And that was it. You blush and your heart rate intensifies and you feel like jumping from the window. Wellah, the office is on the ground floor.

 

A few days later, while already feeling in a relationship with the designer, you speak to the (male) project manager online and you receive “The client would like to use the rollover effect on all the pages ;)”. Oh my. The “;)” again. Questions start popping up in your head. What is that supposed to mean?! You take your pack of cigarettes and passing behind the monitor of your colleague you see another “;)”. And now you know… With heart a little broken, you get out for your cigarette break and think on the importance and meaning of the emoticons.

Here is an illustration on the amount of meaning emoticon bring to the words:

Nooo 🙂

Nooo 🙁

Nooo 😛

Nooo 😉

Nooo 😀

Nooo X-)

Here is a link for the most curious of you – Scott Fahlman, The inventor of the smiley faces 🙂

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~sef/

Vox Teneo started working with Drupal 6 at the beginning of the decade. At start learning Drupal was a bit of a challenge because of the different development concept than other popular CMSs at the time like WordPress and Joomla. With time we made Drupal our main CMS choice for the upcoming projects. The type of the projects went from Corporative websites to Intranet with a lot of content, users, and every one of them multilingual. Currently we are preparing for the first big Drupal 8 project, and to put all the greatness of the CMS in action.

Few weeks back we held an in house training on “How to install Drupal 8”. For the purpose of the training we have prepared a few simple custom modules we would like to share with you, so you can create a small project to test “the 8” yourself. The trainer on this event was Martin Taleski, a Drupal developer and a member of the Drupal community for over two years. Martin held a presentation for his Drupal 8 website, and a workshop on how to build a small and basic Drupal 8 website. We put Martin’s presentation “on paper” so if you are interested in building a Drupal 8 website, this is a good start for you.

If you have never installed Drupal 8 before, here is a 10 minute video tutorial.

https://www.ostraining.com/blog/drupal/install-drupal-8/

After the installation of the test site locally, create a custom theme, or just download it from this link: https://github.com/taleskimartin/drupal8test/tree/master/themes/vox_custom

Put the “vox_custom” folder in the “themes” folder in your project.

ScrShot_1

This structure would do for what we want to achieve:

folders:

  • css
  • fonts
  • images
  • js
  • lib
  • sass
  • templates – all twig files

files:

  • screenshot.png
  • vox_custom.info.yml
  • vox_custom.libraries.yml
  • vox_custom.theme

Quick overview of the files:

In “vox_custom.libraries.yml” are defined the css/js libraries that you will use in the project. You will include a jQuery library because Drupal is not loading anything out of the box.

“vox_custom.theme” will be empty for this project, you will not use any preprocess functions for the twig files.

In “vox_custom.info.yml” goes all the info: name description and also very useful “thing” for me,

“stylesheets-remove”. You should remove all the core css that comes automatically from Drupal core, because you are doing custom theming. In “vox_custom.info.yml” you should add theme “regions”.

Quick overview of the folders:

css , fonts , images , js and sass folders are straightforward.

In “templates” folder we have all twig files organized in subfolders like layout, node, views.

Disabling the cache

In the browser logged as admin go to “yoursite”/admin/config/development/performance you should disable everything

ScrShot_2

so when you are in development you get the latest changes not some cached data.

Also on “yoursite”/admin/config/development/logging make sure you get messages so you can easily find the problem if there is some.

And you are not done yet with disabling the cache :). Go to the Drupal root folder and in “sites” folder edit “development.services.yml” and add this code at the end

parameters:

twig.config:

debug : false

auto_reload: false

cache: false

`ScrShot_3

We will add additional “settings” file just for local usage, “settings.local.php”, you can download it here
https://github.com/taleskimartin/drupal8test/blob/master/settings.local.php

You need to put it in “sites/default”. In the same directory you will need to edit “settings.php” and add this code at the end

if (file_exists(__DIR__.’/settings.local.php’)) {

include __DIR__.’/settings.local.php’;

}

After this you will need to clear cache in the admin area, on the same link from above  “yoursite”/admin/config/development/performance, and we are done with the cache, we can continue with development.

Next you need to enable our theme in the “Appearance” section in the admin area,

ScrShot_4

“yoursite”/admin/appearance, then you can play with the twig files in the theme and try to edit them.

After enabling the theme the homepage need to look like this

ScrShot_5

Now we will play a little with the modules…

There are 2 custom modules here:
https://github.com/taleskimartin/drupal8test/tree/master/modules

The first one that we will play with is “vox_custom” and it is generating jquery tabs for all the articles in the site.

Create 3 Articles, in “yoursite”/node/add we add “Article” and the first one name it “Article 1”, there needs to be some text in the body field, so we will use lorem ipsum generated text, and some dummy image for the image field. Repeat this 3 times.

After finishing with the articles create one Basic Page and l list all the articles. You need to add URL alias, it needs to be “/all-articles”, and this will be used for the block.

ScrShot_6

So, now there are 3 articles and 1 basic page, what you need to do right now is to add the block that is generated from the “vox_custom” module in some region. You have to “Block layout” on “yoursite”/admin/structure/block and use “Content” region to place our block. When you add the block, please put it at the bottom of the blocks in the “Content” region, it looks better that way :). At the end you need to have same as the picture below

ScrShot_7

After you press “Save” (otherwise you will lose the block) go to the “Configure” and in the “Visibility” section chose “Pages” and enter the url path from the basic page that you have just created, so the block will show only on this particular page:

ScrShot_8

Don’t forget to hit “Save” here.
If everything is OK go on “yoursite”/all-articles and you should get something like this
ScrShot_9

Also you can move “Main navigation” block from “Header” region to “Navigation” region in the “Block layout” and then you can use the menu nav at the top left corner.

The second module is generated via terminal and is called “Tralala” . The module is generating custom route in the MVC approach, so if you have some base knowledge you can play with it also, it just prints the string that you will put on this url “yoursite”/tralala/hello/voxteneo or “yoursite”/tralala/hello/anyOtherString
ScrShot_10

This is the end of the tutorial, now you are on your own, you can try everything, break something, fix it and learn from it.

Drupal 8 is the most massive open-source CMS ever build, still there is a lot of things that need to be done in the system, but looking in the complexity of it, the current status is super good.

With almost always having open job positions, we get a lot of emails and CVs from people for each of our offices. The quantity doesn’t outweigh the quality in Software Development, though. We are living in times and market where the employees choose the employers and not vice versa. Finding and getting the right candidates to join the team is a long and tough process. We wanted to know how we can further improve ourselves and be better employers for the developers. We conducted a short survey on what developers want from an employer. And ended up with five most popular answers.

We happen to be (not so modestly) covering all 5 criteria, that’s why the article.

1. Room to improve and progress

Most developers want challenging project. They want to test their knowledge and skills with interesting projects that will help them improve and advance their craft. This would hardly happen with a simple presentational page, that most of the freelance developers end up doing. We have complex systems in the house, that require creativity and knowledge.

We invest in trainings, because we know that this way we invest in the company. Remember the internet meme:

CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

~Peter Baeklund

 

2. Freedom

Freedom comes with Responsibility. Once you prove you’re eligible, you will be treated like a king in our company. Letting people use their imagination and creativity and not limiting them to work in the same, often obsolete pattern, adopting new technologies and methodologies gets you motivated and driven employees ready to take any project.

Apart from the freedom of thought, flexible working hours are also a huge advantage. You can keep both the early birds and night owls happy.

 

Startup Stock Photos

3. Focus on one project at a time.

It often happens in companies to have one developer on more than one project at a time. No matter how small the task is, switching between projects can get confusing and take a lot of precious time trying to get one’s focus back. We are working very hard on minimizing the “hijacking” of developers by the project managers, so everyone has a clear view on what he or she will be assigned on for a longer period of time.

 

4. Feedback on the work

Giving feedback is one of the most important things. It feels good to know that you did a good job on something or getting a critical opinion on your work because it gives you the room to fix your mistakes and improve for next time. Feedback with no evaluation criteria is useless though. Having a concrete behavioral and technical matrix helps a lot for the improvement of one’s weak points. We have an evaluation process where developers can get a clear view on their performance and choose to strengthen more their strong points or work on improving their weaknesses.

 

5. Fair and open communication

Keeping things fair and keeping an open communication is one of the keys of being a good employer. Letting the people know what’s going on in the company, rewarding them for their good performance or letting them know what they did wrong is the key for success of everyone.

 

Startup Stock Photos

 

These are the top five answers we got., that we feel are the most important, that we got from the developers. However there are also many other things that are not mandatory but will make someone happy. The things that might even look irrelevant to someone, may be really important to other people. Having a parking space in front of the office or pool table where you can just relax for a bit and “let off steam”, some consider a really important asset of a working environment.

Keep these in mind when thinking of ways to better your working place. We are already working hard on our improvement, hope this will help you improve yourself.

What is User Experience Design (UX)

Digital media Interactivity has grown significantly in the last few years, especially for web and mobile applications. It makes the companies have to considered it as the effective and efficient media to communicate with their target/consumer. Based on that, design has to expand its many roles, not only to by making the product beautiful but by making it usable and useful as well..

Nowadays, design was demanded to create a positive perceptions from  the user’s perspective. These perceptions include effectiveness, efficiency, emotional satisfaction and the quality of the relationship with the designer who created the product. So how can it be reached? It can be reached by doing User Experience Design. User Experience Design encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

How Does It works?

Pic

(source: uxindo.com)

The concept of User Experience Design is to create interaction based on what are the users needs (user centered). By doing these method, we can define and manage the strategy how to build user awareness, how to make the user consider, how to makes the user sign up, how to make the user keep and continue using the apps and also how to make the user be a brand advocates. (accommodate business goals) So at the end, it can create the positive perceptions in the user perspective and build the quality of relationship with the companies.

Piiccc

(source: usabilia.com)

User Experience Design has more responsibility than User Interface Design. User Experience Design, starts by doing research of the target market / target user, then it will be implemented into User Interface Design. Yup, User Interface Design is a part of User Experience Design and also only the result of it. By doing User Experience Design at the beginning of the development, we make the User Interface more effective and efficient. The Content, Visual Design, Typography, User Interface, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Functionality and also the Usability should be fitted to the user mindset. So it will help the user to accomplish their needs with ease. Once, the users needs are met and they  feel satisfied with the apps, it means that the apps has a good User Experience

Why Invest in User Experience Design?

1. Good UX = Good Business

User Experience will help the business to manage the best practices and the best strategy to achieve the goals and it will be delivered to be fitted to the user mindset and experience. Better  User Experience will ensure that the user to met their needs with ease. So the satisfied user more likely continues using your product and recommends it to their friends and family. According to research done by Forrester. Companies that has invested every dollar in User Experience Design brings 10.000 dollars in return.

2. Saving Time, Money and Resources.

User Experience Design make the product more effective, efficient. If you apply it into the project at the beginning of development, at least you don’t need to spend your money on a redesign, because redesign is expensive and takes much time. And also automatically, you will have the product that has an easy-to-learn design. So it will reduce the cost of ownership and support. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for documentation anymore.

The comfortable office is the one thing that gives good facility to the employees.

It’s not just facility like desks and chairs that makes the job easier, but also make every activity easier to do and improve the employee’s performance.

If an office is just a serious place to work, then the people will feel under pressure, which can lead to unhealthy ambiance for work and the under performance of each person. The comfortable office is not just a place to work, but also give support to the people to be better and healthier. How? Doing sports together of course. Could be gymnastic? Badminton? Boxing? Could be anything.

And us, in Vox Teneo Asia also think about this kind of activity. So we chose to play futsal.

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Why futsal?

Because it’s a kind of sport that builds and improves teamwork, and since most of the people that work in Vox Teneo Asia are men, we had enough to divided them into two teams. (five people each).

The team sports grow the spirit of teamwork. The main goal is “team building”. How? As we know, in futsal there’s a keeper, there’s a striker, and defend. And all that positions have important roles. There’s nobody higher or lower, they all have to do the best they can to be the winning team.

If we see further, the winning team usually is not the team with the best players, but the team that has a good teamwork. Beside that, in this sport, scoring a “goal” is the main purpose of the game. If they score, the team gets excited and gets energy and spirit boost, and we can see the spirits are different between the two teams.

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Overall, this sport is not just healthy, but also has other advantages for the people for the internal teamwork between them. That’s why all the people are very excited about this positive activity. This activity is really to build the teamwork.

 

They start to organize it themselves. They book the soccer field in the after hours. Because they finish at 6pm, they go to futsal from 7pm to 8pm. Is one hour enough? Well, it is.

They go for futsal regularly every Monday at 7pm, in a soccer field in Bandung. They choose this place because it’s quite close to the office, so everybody can go there easily.

So far, it’s been going on for a month, and everybody loves it.

And it’s proved, after we started doing this activity, the people became closer, and the work performance is increasing. Hope that we can keep it going, for better Vox Teneo.

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The Head of Software Development of Vox Teneo, Luc Debliquis, made the decision to move to Macedonia in 2014 . We asked him a couple of questions to see what led him to that decision and how does he like his new working and living environment.

 

Early Life

Luc originally comes from the beautiful town of Tournai, Belgium, but he lived most of his life in and around Brussels in the Walloon Brabant region (French area of Belgium). He studied at  “Université libre de Bruxelles” to become a Physical Education teacher, but decided to take an entirely different career path. The most interesting thing about him is that for the most part he is a self-taught developer. His learning was fueled by his love of technologies and the Internet, especially by the benefits those things could bring to people. He got his first job in IT back in 1998 as a Web Developer.  He had multiple jobs, many of those simultaneously over the course of 14 years. Along the way always improving his skills as he climbed higher and higher in his career.
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Starting with Vox Teneo

In December 2012 he started with Vox Teneo, for a “temporary” freelance mission, as a Senior .NET Developer and Application Architect. He was immediately engaged with his Vox Teneo coworkers, company values, and the crazy interesting projects and challenges. So the mission was prolongated on a common agreement.  Within less than a year, his skills and knowledge took him to the lead of the .NET team. Not long after, in July 2014 he was awarded a promotion to the Head of Software Development.

 

Moving to Macedonia

Luc’s first visit to Macedonia was in July 2014, shortly after the opening of our office in Skopje. At the time, Vox Teneo Macedonia was just at the beginning of it’s growth and rising. Coming from the depressing rains of Belgium, Luc fell in love with Skopje right away. He fell for the sun of course, but mostly with the people, not just the colleagues but Macedonians in general. Two more visits came in 2014, and it was enough for him to make the decision to move to Macedonia for good. The move to Skopje came in November 2014 and we can in all honesty say that he is one of the main reasons for the success of Vox Teneo Macedonia.

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At first, Luc needed some time adjusting to the Macedonian lifestyle. Everything in Skopje was LOUD! Not being used to all the noise and the volume of the people in Macedonia, he was the guy everyone in the office feared.  It was very often that he would get mad and say “This is not a bazar!” With time, he slowly learned to tolerate the noise and even adjust his way of talking to blend with his new environment.  Now Belgian people are asking him to stop yelling when he speaks!

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As time has passed in Skopje, Luc fell in love with the life more and more. He found activities to fill his spare time, such as hiking in Mavrovo, crossfit, skiing and playing Ice hockey with Skopje – Metalurg. Not long ago he got his Macedonian Drivers licence as well.  Leading him to buy a few new bikes which he loves riding. He also fell for the macedonian boza, skara, wine and of course rakija.

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With time, people in the office got to know him more deeply.  To understand that he is a really nice guy. A guy with an amazing sense of style who is always looking sharp. A guy with a soft spot for all animals, especially cats.

 

Future plans

For now, Luc has no intentions of moving away from Skopje. He became used to the lifestyle and the sunny weather. He can’t imagine living under the Belgian rain anymore.

 

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Cedric Pierrejean is running our Bandung office in Indonesia. He has started at Vox Teneo in 2015 and he hit the ground running. He is an experienced Project Manager but also skilled developer,valuable part of the team. Like every french, Cedric enjoys the good food and wine, and he loves traveling. He has fallen in love with Indonesia the first time he visited.  Here is his story: .

 

Early life

Cedric is originally from Toulouse, France, but throughout his lifetime he relocated and lived in a lot of different places. His work and his pursuit of new experiences got him from different cities in France, to living in the US for 7 years, and 1 and a half years in Hong Kong, China. He has a degree from IUP Miage in IT methodology applied to enterprise management. His adventurous spirit couldn’t allow him to stop looking for new challenges and opportunities, so he moved from city to city and from job to job, finally ending up in Indonesia.

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Moving to Indonesia

While living and working in Hong Kong, Cedric traveled to Indonesia for his work and spent a lot of time there, slowly falling in love with the country. He was lucky enough to be given a great opportunity to live and work in Indonesia so he couldn’t miss the chance. Fearless and ready for a new adventure, Cedric decided to stay for a long term. He didn’t encounter almost any problems moving, it was just adjustments that he had to make because of the different culture and religion, that he quickly overcame and blended in immediately. He also met and married his wife in Indonesia so it was a big plus in his decision to settle there.

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Getting to Vox Teneo

While working in Hong Kong, and traveling to Indonesia, Cedric made many connections and met a lot of people, including our co-founder Mr. Patrick Loge. He took the opportunity as soon as he could. Dedicated himself fully to his work and to Vox Teneo. He was accepted in the team quickly and believes in the people and their skills and devotion. Cedric is working hard to help Vox Teneo Indonesia grow and build something great.

 

Future plans

We cannot say that Indonesia tamed him but Cedric is determined to stay to live and work there. Settled and building a family in Indonesia, he is now looking to feed his adventurous spirit with the business opportunities that come along the way of Vox Teneo. He wants to continue building his family there as well as be successful in Vox Teneo. He is determined to make Vox Teneo a recognized and top notch company in Indonesia and develop the local market.

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The problem : Your server crashed and you recover only the frm and idb files. If you have only the idb files, it works also but you need the SQL scripts with the DB structure.

Copying those files directly in the data directory of a new mysql server will not work. The process is a little bit more complex.

The resolution: It is good to know that table structures are store in .frm files, so the resolution of this problem is to recover those structures, to find the lost data or just recreate the tables. The concept of recovery the structure from a .frm file is really handful because in some cases the MySQL server is not necessary.

Process for recovering one table using .frm files

There are two different ways of recovering corrupted table

  • Spawning a new MySQL instance and run structure recovery (Usage of the following switches is neede –server or –basedir along with –port)
  • Recovery of a table without requirement of a MySQL instance (Usage of –diagnostic which reads the .frm files byte-by-byte and tries to recover all the information possible)

First way: Spawning a new MySQL instance and run structure recovery

Step 1: Recreate the structure from the frm files

To recreate the table structure, you can use the tool “mysqlfrm” provided with MySQL Utilities This tool extracts the structure and create a “Create table” script.

mysqlfrm –server=root:mypassword@localhost –port=3311 “<source/path>/mytable.frm” > “<destination/path>/recovered_mytable.sql”

The port instruction is any available port, it’s not the port of the mysql server. The end of the script is to redirect the output in a file.

Step 2: Recreate the table in a new database

In a new database, create the new table with the script generated at the step 1. This script will create 2 files in the database data folder :

  • mytable.frm
  • mytable.idb

Step 3: Remove the new idb file

To remove the new idb file, execute the sql command :

ALTER TABLE mytable DISCARD TABLESPACE;

This command removes the link between the table and the tablespace, and removes the idb file.

Step 4: Copy the old idb file

The idb file recovered from the old server must be copied in place of the idb file deleted at the step 3.

Step 5: Reactivate the table

The link broken at the step 3 is restored with the command :

ALTER TABLE mytable IMPORT TABLESPACE;

No worry about the warnings you will receive.

That’s it !

 

Second way: Recovery of a table without requirement of a MySQL instance

mysqlfrm –diagnostic “<source/path>/mytable.frm” > “<destination/path/recovered_mytable.sql>”

After the execution of the command finishes, all the recovered information for the table will be inside the “recovered_mytable.sql” file.

Steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 from above needs to be repeated in order to idb file be recreated.

 

Restoring mysql database table from .idb files only

If you have only the idb file from a table, you need the sql script to recreate the tables or at least the corrupted or broken table schema. Skip the step 1 and use the script in the step 2.

Xamarin! It’s an amazing technology that is getting off the charts because of the endless possibilities it provides regarding mobile development. It’s sole purpose is to bring three opposing markets in one place: iOS, Android and Windows Phone. And we must say, it does a great job at it!

Xamarin is able to produce code that is reusable between three completely different platforms, together with the option of publishing your Xamarin developed app on Play Store, App Store or Windows Store. Bringing C#/.NET at the doors of mobile development, it also includes integration with Visual Studio, which makes the transition to mobile development smooth and easy. It produces fully compliant .NET Portable Class Libraries, which are reusable between 3 completely different platforms. That saves up on development time, increases the  productivity and opens 3 different markets, while allowing the “ordinary” user to have access to the application on a operating system based on his own personal preferences.

Well, if you are reading until now, you can definitely feel our excitement regarding Xamarin.

It was some time ago, when we decided to get on the “Xamarin train wagon” and we did our math budget wise, the time needed for R&D, the topics on that we would touch on first. On paper it looked pretty amazing, since we had developers that were experienced in  C#/.Net, we had the time and most important we had a team that was extra motivated to “dive into” all that Xamarin as a technology brings, meanwhile taking into consideration not only the benefits, but also the challenges that would arise from starting our brand new mobile department.

Even though we have hit some obstacles on our way, we managed to get to a point of time when our mobile development goes as smooth as it can be.

We have defined the guidelines for architecture, optimization, the tools that we are using. We are able to make estimation of the time needed to develop, as much as we are able to estimate the R&D time. Yes, we still need R&D time, Xamarin has a bit of a learning curve, and not only that, but we do try use the Xamarin benefits to the maximum in order to provide the best features we can for our clients. Not only that, but we try to “dig in” into the Xamarin universe as deep as we can, so we can come on top with even better solutions for them and cool new add-ons that are compliant with their vision.

Until now, we have touched on Xamarin.Android, Xamarin.IOS and of course the infamous Xamarin.Forms. Xamarin.Forms is perfect for “basic” features and it allows the developers to produce code for the 3 platforms at a rate of 90% re-usability. And don’t let the “basic” part of our sentence fool you, Xamarin. Forms is damn well powerful devil. Still, when you really need to go into the native features of Android or iOS you have to go on a little bit of a different route using “pure” Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS. And still even in this case, the percent of the code that we are able to reuse between the platforms goes very far depending on the requirements.

 

The Xamarin learning curve

We would recommend Xamarin for teams that are familiar with the .NET technologies. It is very easy to transition from .NET/C# development to Xamarin development. The syntax is completely same, so if you have developed in C#, the only thing that differs from the “usual” development for you is going to be the phone components that you need to add. But even for this, you can find thousands of “recipes” online and furthermore, you can check out the solutions made for the native platforms(Android, iOS) and just “translate” them to fit into the Xamarin world.

The thing that nobody wants to talk about

One of the main issues when working with Xamarin is the front-end development. The back end part was quite easy for us and as we mentioned previously,  the “switch” between C# development and Xamarin, back-end wise is quite easy and simple. But when you come to front-end, if you had front-end devs that have never worked in mobile development it gets quite tricky. Here, the learning curve is different since, unless you are using a web view(or the pandan to this in iOS a UIWebView) where you would render html code with css/javascript, you would have to start from ground zero. You have to keep in mind that your screens have to look perfect on all devices with different sizes, and the rendering has to be perfect on different phone brands and OS versions. Also, not only that but the design process is very specific also. It’s a different world for design in the web world and the mobile world!

How does Xamarin fits into my architecture? Think ahead!

Think of the mobile(Xamarin) part of your application as just the top layer from your application. When you start developing look at the bigger picture. If you are doing a web site for your client, go Web API all the way! Why? Xamarin applications should be “dum”. They should not have crazy logic nested inside them, so you need to use our favorite programming approach ever, that has the most romantic acronym ever, KISS(keep it simple, stupid!). You don’t want to kill the phone battery, and loose on performance when writing an app in Xamarin. So the “dumber” you make the app, the better! So, where does the web API fits into this story? If you are starting a web site for your client, and you plug a web api, that is the same api you can consume in the following Xamarin app. The BLL is the same, the DAL will be the same in most cases, so you will be able to reuse the same architecture you have previously created, and just “plug in” your Xamarin app on top of it!

Testing my app, how and what are we working on at the moment

Go out buy all the phones on market and get the biggest QA department ever! We scared you with the previous sentence didn’t we? Take a deep breath, there are better solutions for this don’t worry. First and foremost, you will have problems with different versions of OS(especially in the Android domain) and different brands of phones. That’s okay and it is expected. One way to cover this is to use the Xamarin Test Cloud. This will allow you to test on remote real devices and you can test on different versions, sizes and  brands of phones. And this is what we are working on at the moment. Manually deploying your app on the test cloud is not good enough for us. For every department we have implemented automated deployment and this will be the case for the mobile apps also! We are currently working to have an automatic deploy on the test cloud on every “push” of the new version of our app. As you have seen until now, we are all about time saving!

So to sum things up in the end.. We do strongly recommend Xamarin for mobile development. It is the way to go from simple apps, to more complex apps, since you have the option to go “native” with Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS. We urge you to give it a chance if you have a team that has been working in .NET and you want to go mobile, use Xamarin if you want to dive into multi platform mobile development and use Xamarin if you want to save up on time. And if you are seeing this from the other side(the “client side”, as in you want to hire somebody to develop a mobile app or a web site for you), we recommend think ahead! If you want to have a web site, ask the team to use a web api! We can easily plug a Xamarin app on top of it. If you want only a mobile app, keep in mind that the architecture from developing the Xamarin app can be used to develop a web site, an admin site so that you can manage the users better and expand your app into something bigger.

Although Xamarin itself has a lot of room for improvement, we  do believe in the benefits of using them and the capability of our team.

Thank you for reading and hopefully we managed to clear some of the doubts you had about mobile development with Xamarin. Have a nice day!

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photo by: DesignCue

Are you self driven?

If you happen to be a developer, working on your own startup idea and you believe in it so strong that you did not apply for an investment, than we are looking for you. And we don’t want to ask a share in your idea, but to offer you a job. Part time. A part time job that will help you cover your living costs while working on your prototype, MVP, or whatever your dream project looks like.

 

Why would we be interested in entrepreneurs?

People with ideas.

[Edit] Self driven people with *good* ideas and talent are rare.

 

And precious. Nowadays this type of people cannot be bought. The free and open world we live in gives too many opportunities for you to be captured by a house loan in a 35 year dull job. That’s why us, employers should be flexible with offers in order to attract the talented.

 

Why would you be interested in working for us?

It is very often a non sense for software developers to be working for somebody else. Why investing your time working for clients, while you can be creating “the next Instagram”, going to the beach, or dance, or sleep. The other side of the coin is that knowledge, inspiration and ideas are carried primarily by people. So working alone or with one or two people you already know so good is often not the best formula for self improvement. Environment is important.

 

What do we have to offer?

While freelancers usually end up working on “Home, About us, Contact us” pages, we work on projects that do actually challenge your mind and involve a more complex logic. The agile methodology applied in Vox Teneo and the best practices applied reflect the professional development of our employees.

 

We offer flexible working hours. And flexible amount of hours per week. Jumping on board with us will give you the freedom to continue working on your own project, ideas, bucket list or whatever you are involved with that makes you happy.

 

If you are interested, apply here: inform@voxteneo.com

 

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