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As we close out 2013, we wanted to take a look back at the year that was. We think we upped our game this past year, improving our business, growing our office, and participating in many new events and organizations. Take a look at some of the year's highlights below, and once again, thank you to everyone who's been with us for the ride!
Lately I've been using the Dragonfly gem to work with images on my rails models. One of my favorite things about Dragonfly is its chainable image processing language (or DSL) for generating different versions of an image (thumbnail, greyscale, etc). At the core of Dragonfly's DSL is a thin wrapper around ImageMagick which is really handy for common transformations. For more complicated transforms it sure would be nice to extend that language with your own custom processing step, and thankfully Dragonfly makes that really easy too!
For example, recently I needed to generate a low-res watermarked version of an image. The first step—to scale the image down—is easy to do with Dragonfly's existing syntax:
The next step is to overlay a watermark. We want to resize our watermark to fit the source image, and then apply the fitted watermark onto the source image with a given level of transparency (or opacity). This is possible to do with ImageMagick; however, it's a bit more complicated, so this is a good opportunity to implement a custom image processor:
This processor cannot work in a vacuum, however; it must be registered so that Dragonfly can use it with its other processing steps:
Now that Dragonfly knows about our Processor, we can put it together with the scaling step to achieve a low-res watermarked version of any image:
That's it! This technique can be adapted to insert whatever custom ImageMagick transformation you can come up with into Dragonfly's DSL. Pretty sweet!
For all of the great software we build, you might call Table XI a shy company. Though we've grown a truly excellent team of developers over the past 10 years, we've mostly had our heads down, quietly innovating for our clients and relishing in their success. This approach has served us well. That said, thanks to a tremendous infusion of talent lately we're learning what it takes to scale our dev culture as teams grow. A couple of weeks ago we retreated to sunny Costa Rica for a few days of internally-focused technical presentations, panel discussions, and skunkworks (R&D) projects. Hot on the heels of our trip I was fortunate enough to attend SXSW Interactive with an eye toward deepening our involvement in the external developer community, and seeing what TXI can learn from other thought leaders and innovators in the ever-percolating world of tech.
For those less familiar, in many ways SXSWi is the ultimate nerd fantasy (though simultaneously a nerd nightmare when you consider the line for cheese sticks at a conference with 30,000 attendees). Every corner of Austin is flush with developers hailing from interesting startups and dev shops, staying up all night to play werewolf, discuss languages and frameworks, and pass out t-shirts from life-changing websites. I had the good fortune of bumping into a host of awesome people thanks to my guide, Table XI’s own Jordan Ho. Read more
A recently overheard conversation that took place in the middle of the office between developer Micah Gates and new marketing director Kate Garmey, her first week on the job:
Micah: “Excuse me, but I have an extremely random question for you.”
Micah: “Were you in Costa Rica seven years ago?”
Kate: “You’re right, that’s random. But actually...I think I was.”
Micah: “And did you do some trekking while you were there?”
Kate (growing dubious): “Um, yes...”
Micah: “Right. Did you, uh, happen to do that trek with me?”
Kate: “No. Way.”
But lo, she had, in fact, done that trek with Micah.
Seven years ago, Kate was a volunteer in Nicaragua, working in an orphanage on the island of Ometepe, and Micah was backpacking around Costa Rica. The two met on a bus headed south toward Corcovado National Park, where they joined forces for a three-day jungle trek, surrounded by jaguars, howler monkeys, and sloths.
Kate went on to travel to Panama, Micah to Nicaragua, and, these being pre-Facebook days, when emails were exchanged on paper torn from journals and then promptly misplaced, the two lost touch. Neither knew that the other now lived in Chicago, much less recently started working for the same company.
We are very pleased to have both Micah and Kate aboard the Table XI team. Fortunately, for this next adventure, no malaria pills are required. Yet.
Micah was even able to dig up some photos from the trip:
Many thanks to all our friends who came out for our open house last month. We loved seeing everyone and showing off our new space, which handled the 70+ attendee list with aplomb. A special shout out to chef Aram Reed (firstname.lastname@example.org), who cooked up an array of delicious dishes in our brand new kitchen. If you couldn’t make it, talk to us about stopping by sometime—our door is always open!
After many months of planning, building, and packing, we've finally made the move to our new digs. We're still in the West Loop, just a stone's throw south of our old location, but this time we have an elevator instead of a stairway to heaven (hallelujah). Our loft is open, spacious, and filled with light, and we couldn't be happier to begin this new chapter in the TXI story.
Drop by anytime to see the new space, and in the meantime check out some pictures below as we complete construction and get everything up and running.
328 S. Jefferson Street, Suite 670
Chicago, IL, 60661