- Agriculture Technology
- Seattle, Washington, USA
Increased app development and iterations
Full visibility into crashes and user navigation
Streamlined issue tracking increases productivity
As the son of cherry farmers, Will MacHugh, understands the importance of optimizing farming operations to increase productivity. Successfully farming and harvesting large areas of land is a challenging feat that can be made insurmountable with a lack of efficient processes. Drawing upon his upbringing and childhood memories of tracking boxes of handpicked cherries, MacHugh, Founder and President of Elitopia Communications, worked with his team at iFarm to use technology to help farmers streamline operations.
iFarm develops agriculture technology, leveraging the mobile network, to record the application of products to various crops throughout a field, such as herbicides and fertilizers, and tracks harvest boxes, quantities that can be difficult to manage with handpicked harvests. The inefficiency of tracking such operations by hand led iFarm to develop an application that allows farmhands to quickly input information while they are working in the fields, allowing individuals to quickly resume their efforts rather than engaging in long pauses to complete calculations and mark geographic areas.
Aiming to simplify operations, iFarm creates a bridge between farmhands in the fields with decision makers behind desks.
As iFarm grew, MacHugh hired a team of global developers to improve functionality, but after encountering a lack of visibility into the development lifecycle and an inability to fix recurring bugs, he traveled to India to meet with the team. “I spent a lot of time trying to understand the problems,” says MacHugh, “and the gaps I found were a solid source control system and a communications tool to identify bugs.” MacHugh learned that his off-site team coded without knowledge of how it was to be used, saying, “We got a product out, but it was barely usable.” The off-site team had difficulty understanding the software and did not know how to test whether their efforts produced meaningful results. As MacHugh explains, “This was a constant problem. I wouldn’t know what the team had actually done, and I didn’t know where the software had crashed. It was just a constant communications issue.”
Compounding the communications issues within the team, iFarm experience language barriers with the end user. Because farmhands are often non-English speaking migrant workers, any crashes or bugs could not be communicated in a way that included the technical steps and errors experienced. As MacHugh describes, “We have a non-English speaker who experiences a software crash in the field, and he restarts the app, but that information is never recorded, so the developer never knows what led to that bug.” In situations in which the steps were communicated, technical aspects were lost in translation, since information needed to pass from Spanish to English to Hindi where it finally arrived to the developer.
How could iFarm improve the quality of software when faced with users who experience difficulty communicating their crashes and a development team that struggles to effectively and efficiently code?
MacHugh hoped to find a single solution that could both streamline technical support to resolve end user communication issues while offering his developers a way to easily iterate. As a first step, MacHugh spoke with the development team to learn of their preferences. “When I asked my developers what they wanted to use, they suggested GitLab, so I spent more time with GitLab, and thought, ‘Yes, this does a good job. It’s got all the right communications tools in it, I can put bugs in it, and I can do all these great things.’ I was really satisfied.” Using GitLab for source control management, the team had full visibility into the entire software development lifecycle. Developers could easily test code and MacHugh could see iterations in real time.
While GitLab solved visibility issues, MacHugh still struggled with end user communication problems, and he sought to take out the user when reporting crashes and bugs. “We had to find a better solution to help the end user convey that he’s having a problem. So, I looked at different solutions, and I really started looking at Bugsee.” Bugsee is a mobile software kit that monitors and records the state of a system in the background of a user’s mobile device and quietly transmits the information back to the Bugsee development team. The developer receives all the build and system relevant information, video of users’ actions, console logs, network logs, and all system events, allowing him to determine what led to crashes. “Bugsee eliminates the difficult, time-consuming task of bug and crash reporting,” explains MacHugh.
“Bugsee is clean and ubiquitous, operating in the background so that users never see it.”Will MacHughFounder and President
With Bugsee, iFarm could gain immediate insight into crashes, overcoming end user language hurdles. To bring developers even closer to crash reports, MacHugh relied on the GitLab + Bugsee integration, which “fluidly transfers Bugsee data into a GitLab issue so that everything that is ever needed to diagnose a crash is given directly to an engineer.” GitLab’s interface enables the entire iFarm team to have full visibility into Bugsee reports. “Anyone on the team can look at the issues and designate a fix as a priority, allowing us to produce a much better product,” says MacHugh.
“The integration fluidly transfers Bugsee data into a GitLab issue so that everything that is ever needed to diagnose a crash is given directly to an engineer.”Will MacHughFounder and President
As Bugsee runs in the background, collecting information and sending crash reports to GitLab, end users no longer have to call iFarm to share software problems or ensure that issues are prioritized. MacHugh discovered that customers appreciate that their bugs are automatically reported by Bugsee and identified in GitLab, giving them confidence that their concerns have been prioritized and placed on the stack for engineers without their having to go through customer support to share their difficulties.
The GitLab + Bugsee integration eliminates communication steps, allowing farmhands to continue using the app while iFarm analyzes crash reports and prioritizes fixes to re-release in an upcoming cycle, offering a new level of visibility and bringing the development cycle full circle. As MacHuh explains, “With the integration, our users no longer have to make a technical support engine incident, which would then be escalated to determine what is going on. This communication channel has end-to-end visibility from user experience to engineer. No bypass. No filter. Now, when software crashes out in the field, we know exactly which buttons were pressed, and that information is relayed directly to engineers. All the language barriers we experienced evaporated overnight.”
“GitLab and Bugsee, as a combination, has been absolutely fantastic.”Will MacHughFounder and President
MacHugh describes iFarm’s experience with the GitLab + Bugsee integration by saying, “It has taken our tiny software team of four people and has given us comprehensive, end-to-end communications and testing, so the quality of the product is comfortable, and I’m completely confident in both Bugsee and GitLab.”
The integration has increased iFarm’s app development and ability to iterate, since “it narrowed the communication gaps and helped engineers focus on specific bugs, helping the team accelerate app development.” The end-to-end visibility has made full regression testing a possibility, which MacHugh says is responsible for “a couple hundred iterations before software is ever released.”
“The benefits we gained from having full visibility into detailed crash reports and generating issues made the difference between survival and loss.”Will MacHughFounder and President
The integration between Bugsee’s comprehensive crash reports and GitLab’s source control management has increased the team’s productivity. “Instead of going through four hands, the data goes straight from a crash to the developer who needs to fix it. The GitLab + Bugsee integration helped both our development cycle and our product get inspirationally faster in under a week,” explains MacHugh.
“The GitLab + Bugsee integration helped both our development cycle and our product get inspirationally faster in under a week.”Will MacHughFounder and President
Dedicated to providing a seamless user experience to increase operational efficiency on farms, iFarm uses GitLab + Bugsee to achieve end-to-end visibility and communications.