I had lunch the other day with Aaron Gladders from 2Paths. He bumped into me when we were doing a final walkthrough of our new 1 Alexander offices, and recognized me from the picture here on my blog.
2Paths is a company filled with biologists turned programmers. They started out as a PHP shop, but since they provide full ongoing 24/7 support, hosting, and ongoing maintenance to most of their customers, they found that straight PHP code had a tendency to get very spaghetti-like. They switched to doing Java development and have been building expertise. Aaron confidently says that 2Paths is likely the best lightweight Java web application developer in Vancouver.
In fact, Aaron says they started to look at Ruby on Rails as it began to gain hype -- perhaps they would use it for prototyping. But they weren't happy with some aspects of it, although in favour of many of its lightweight aspects. So, they looked around for a Rails-like framework for Java. Ultimately, they rejected existing solutions for a number of architectural reasons and ended up creating their own. I'll leave it up to 2Paths to talk about its cool factor -- they'll be open sourcing it and releasing it to the world sometime real soon now (there might be a presentation at BarCamp Vancouver about it).
Another interesting story about 2Paths I learned from Aaron was that they're going fully distributed. They've spend the last half-dozen years building their team centrally in Vancouver, all in one office. They did look for some larger space, but ended up going in another direction all together. I took a picture of the stack of MacBook Pros in their office: every team member is getting a laptop, and is being encouraged to work from home...or from wherever. Next, Aaron is going to go shopping for expertise wherever he can find it -- Java experts who like a lightweight approach encouraged to apply from anywhere in the world.
They will be keeping their office as a central connection area and place to meet clients. Aaron is a fan of the Innovation Commons concept, and toured Bill MacEwen's Workspace, but ultimately keeping the office made more financial sense.
Aaron told me about AceTech Emerging, which is for young company executives to meet and share solutions at networking events and an annual conference in Whistler. I've gotten invitations in the past, but was put off by the email blasts and mediocre website (yeah, I'm bad like that). I'll give them a try, since Aaron says it's worthwhile.
However, recently speaking with Andre Charland from Nitobi, Robert Scales from Raincity Studios, and now Aaron, it seems that we are all facing very similar issues. Developer tools, collaboration spaces, project management, lead tracking, etc. We may be holding some informal meetings soon to share some of these tools and techniques.
Somehow in telling the tale of Bryght, I also ended up doing my usual evangelizing of Jabber. Wildfire is a great open source Java-based server from Jive Software, and it has some great enterprise deployment and management features when paired with its Spark client.
What else? Well, apparently 2Paths has some Web 2.0-ey service goodness up their sleeve which we didn't end up talking about. Since I'm writing up this giant post and Aaron reads my blog, I suspect a blog isn't too far off either :P