Between the lines: a day in Software Development at Loxone

Lucinda Wood
28th March 2018 in Backstage

Our software department – it’s proof that a job as a software developer can consist of more than just writing code and sipping coffee. In fact, there’s a lot more than meets the eye.

Today, Tobias will be telling you which complex tasks the software development tackle in their mission to make Loxone the smart home world market leader and how diversified the daily routine is. As Head of Software Development, he takes you through a single day and shows you his terrain from a very special point of view.

Software Entwicklung

Coffee freshly brewed, MacBook on. Like every morning, I check my emails first and then see what tasks my team and myself are facing today. With 15 employees to look after, each with different tasks and projects, I need to ensure I have a clear overview and that I’m well organised.

In order for everyone in the team to know about all projects and be up-to-date, we hold a weekly stand-up meeting. Here, everyone briefly introduces what he or she is working on, what goals s/he has set for this week and then clears up open questions with other colleagues or me. Depending on what is currently in progress, I will inform my team about new tasks or report on important events.

Meeting Software Entwicklung

The brains behind 70,000 smart homes worldwide

Nine o’clock. Time to see how Daniel, Johannes, and Andreas are doing. The three are currently working on one of our current pioneering projects. For quite some time, they’ve been racking their brains for a new way to communicate across the entire Loxone product range. The trick is to combine existing technologies to deliver an even better experience in our 70,000 smart homes worldwide. A considerable number that fills each one of them with pride and a little reverence. ?

In order to deliver the same experience to our customers, the team of three work through their ideas with numerous different evaluation boards, test some solutions and frameworks, check the results with the oscilloscope or packet sniffers and find themselves with a couple of setbacks. It may seem like a tough process, but I’ll tell you one thing: The effort will be worthwhile! Once everything is final, all of our customers – 70,000 smart homes – will benefit.

After clarifying some open questions, I make my way to Luke and Christian.

Software Abteilung

New work processes for new speeds

Lukas and Christian are currently engrossed in a code review; we are preparing to switch to the new UI framework for our Windows application. As a result, the development of this is greatly accelerated and it also makes us gradually independent of the platform used. Currently, working with the new framework is still a bit tedious – it’s well known that getting started is hard, but staying at a slower pace for convenience would be worse.

After a short chat, I set off for a video conference with Martin, a colleague from the Basecamp in Germany. There, among other things, our Loxone Intercom is developed and manufactured. We talk about the tools and workflows used to enable even closer collaboration between different teams.

This brings with it certain adjustments and challenges in the organisation and also some new tools. But as we said, we prefer to change something instead of sticking to old habits. That’s why we banished a certain phrase from our department: “… because it has always been that way.”

For me, that’s one of the charms of working at Loxone – it’s flexible. It’s not like sweating on an exercise bike, it’s like cross-country cycling on a mountain bike through the woods to get down the mountain trail. It’s just fun and you reach many places.

Konzeptarbeit in der Software Entwicklung

From a concept to the final product

Our second Johannes in the ‘Developer League’ is currently working on the concept of integrating a third-party fan into our system. He is in constant contact with the cooperation partner. His main task here is to ensure that our newly developed electronics fit into the existing housing of the third-party fan and that the firmware is compatible.

Johannes must also ensure that the product works as simply and reliably as the rest of the Loxone products. As a fan contributes greatly to the feeling of comfort indoors, he works closely with Harald – among other things, he is responsible for the ‘room climate’ topic. I’d rather let John continue his work, because tomorrow he’ll present his concept to Thomas, the managing director responsible for product management.

Tests auf Herz und Nieren

A must: extensive testing through and through

One hour before noon. Simon is on his way to our chef, Markus, since he’s agreed to put our new development under “real test conditions”. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you any more about it, but the new product is designed for use in the kitchen and helps to prepare various delicacies. Not that Markus needs help here…

Tests auf Herz und Nieren

Open communication – open source

After lunch, I look for David, who’s also conducting a code review. We are currently preparing the communication logic of our visualisation to make this source code available on Github. We’ve had some free interface documentation on the site for a while now, but this step will make it a lot easier to connect to the Miniserver using third-party (or proprietary) software. Plus, those who are interested in it have an insight into how our visualisation communicates with the Loxone Smart Home.

Tests auf Herz und Nieren

From Linux developers and console hackers

Walking through the office, I pass Andre and Michael. Here we come across a special species of developers: the shell coders. Andre and Michael have made it their mission to develop the Loxone Music Server entirely without a mouse or touchpad. Pretty geeky – even for me as a developer – but for developers of Linux software that’s a badge of honour.

Tests auf Herz und Nieren

Always in tune with the times: ongoing improvements & adjustments

My calendar reminds me that there will be a meeting in the forum in 5 minutes, so I head downstairs. Joining me is UX designer Markus, developer Martin and test master Wolfgang. Together we talk about how the flow of information from the Loxone Smart Home to its occupants can be further improved.

At the moment, there are many ways this can be done: via email, call, push notifications, app, audio announcements or LEDs on the devices. The aim now is to combine these possibilities into a uniform, clean solution. This requires a sophisticated architecture and therefore plenty of discussions (and headaches!)

Das Beste gerade gut genug

The best is just enough

Our Andi is currently intensively involved in driver implementation. We had recently jettisoned our first approach to a new product and started over again. The reason for this was that our original concept showed weaknesses in practice tests with prototypes.

Of course, this is unpleasant – but it was definitely the right decision for the future development of Loxone Smart Homes.

Das Beste gerade gut genug

Achievements are there to celebrate

In my opinion, the thing that any good development team may be missing, are release parties – after all, success is there to be celebrated. That’s my cue – before I have to go home today, the invitations have to be handed out, the band has to be organised and the food has to be ordered. I don’t mind doing this though, because, for this release version, many colleagues and external testers have done extraordinary things. At least I do not have to worry about the beer – there is always enough of that…

Join the Loxone team!

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