Christoph Hochstrasser


Let’s look back at the year 2012. It was a very succesful year, for me, though we had some ups and downs at IWA-Tech. People came and people left. I took over a new role and learned many things.


At IWA-Tech we had a good start into 2012, then some minor troubles and unexpected changes in Product Leadership midway through, and then regained our strength in the finish.

I started off in 2012, as one of four web developers and then with a deadline in sight, was asked to take over Product Design — which I did.

So suddenly I, the “Greenhorn”, was in charge of the product. Something which I very much dreamed of. It was a unique chance, to substantially change the way we work to the better, and I’ve learned many things in the last 3 months.

With only six weeks until the deadline, we moved again to weekly iterations, to focus more on shipping. At the beginning of the year we changed from Scrum to Kanban, which meant going from a two week time limit for all tasks, to no limit.

We noticed that, instead of shipping, features went to “Done” unnoticed, and then stayed there. So what we tried is, that we make weekly iterations, so everyone is aware of the state of things, what’s done, what’s in review and what’s next. This iterations are not exactly like Scrum sprints — they are much more loose. Stories don’t have to be finished at the end of the iteration — there ain’t something like a “Failed Sprint”.

This is better in several ways:

  • Let’s face it: Things don’t go as you expect. If you’ve a rather unstable product stakeholders, which change and are kind of in “pivoting” mode, then many things come in at short notice. This results in the team not making it to the commitment, which in turn results in a major drop in motivation.
  • Planning and review is the main benefit of making weekly iterations, and communication is much better, because we sit together and everyone sees and talks about the state of affairs. There’s less chance that features go to “Done” unnoticed.
  • It creates a frame for time. If you’ve no time frames, time goes by unnoticed, and you hardly notice that you’re sitting 3 weeks at the story, though you could’ve finished earlier. But this is only one part of the story, the other is that if the effort is high to start something new, then it’s hard to move on to the next thing. This is one area which ain’t quite there yet, and I’d like to improve further in 2013

Though, managing the development of a product is very stressful and hard at times, it continues to be a very rewarding experience. I’m really starting to like connecting people, and designing interfaces. One thing that worries me, is that I’m no longer really able to contribute to backend tasks. I’ve spent the last one and a half years doing it, and now I have to talk to a real developer to accomplish anything serious.

So this was long enough, I probably should write another post about my Product Design experiences.

Open Source

In 2012 I have started several new projects:

  • php-build, which saw 11 releases during 2012, attracted 15 contributors, was starred 145 times, and has 24 forks. It’s a real open source project, and the single project of me which had the most impact on the overall community. It’s used by Travis CI for the PHP support. I’d like to thank the people, which contributed to php-build in 2012!
  • Pipe: I overhauled the asset deployment for our main project, and was very frustated that Assetic didn’t really fit the way I like to work with assets. I really liked how Sprockets works, so I took the things I did like from Sprockets — like the Directives and Dependency Management — and tried porting this to Assetic, but it was really ugly and didn’t really fit how Assetic was designed. So I set aside some time and made Pipe. After falling in love with Silex, I also created a Silex Service Provider for Pipe.
  • Spark: I admit it: I’m in love with Silex. So Spark is a proof of concept, for building a full stack framework on top of it. It uses some of my components like Pipe, and many other community developed Service Providers. 2013 will hopefully bring Active Record to Spark, and hopefully the first Beta release.


This was 2012, and I really look forward to 2013!

Few things which you can anticipate:

  • A responsive redesign of this site, after dipping my toes into responsive web design with the redesign of the IWA-Tech site, I really want to also make this page usable to phones and tablets.
  • Spark Beta: The first beta of the Spark framework, a full stack framework built on top of Silex.
  • php-build v1.0.0, which will see some restructuring, and will be the first release which breaks backwards compatibility with the dev versions.