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Autodesk BIM 360

Project planning tool for construction projects

Autodesk asked Lab Zero to help rebuild a newly acquired product (OurPlan.com) to make it part of the BIM 360 suite of products. We built the most beautiful and richest Lean project planning tool for large construction projects available today.

What we did

We built a beautiful, advanced new product with an amazing amount of interaction richness and polish for a new customer audience for Autodesk.

First, we had to learn what OurPlan could do, and work with Autodesk’s product owner to re-imagine it as product within the BIM360 suite. This also meant focusing the scope of the product to not delve into areas other Autodesk products already supported.

By using test-driven development, SauceLabs, Jenkins, and Chef, we set a new mark for how engineering could be done at Autodesk.

How we did it

UX design
We used Bryntum Gantt Charting to create a project schedule that presented complex information in an intuitive and clean way.

Development
We worked in one week sprints and delivered new features to production each week.

This was a project in which we got to use a lot of our familiar skills and hone some newer ones. We worked in Ruby on Rails and Angular.js, and used Jenkins for Continuous Delivery. We also worked with the Cloud ops team to provide them a fully automated set of Chef recipes to build our environments.

We also implemented a backend API that was consumed by both a rich client and mobile application.

From a process standpoint, this project also required collaboration with a globally distributed team (with people in London, Boston, Shanghai, San Francisco) and deep integration with other enterprise tiers (Enterprise Admin (HQ) layer) at Autodesk.

What we learned

It turns out, running Lean construction projects shares the same set of values and principles that Agile product development uses. It was refreshing to see our process validated in another industry.

We learned how to make Angular and ExtJS work together on a product. This allowed us to leverage an ExtJS component while still using Angular to manage the pages.

This project is where we figured out how how to parallelize our Cucumber+Selenium suite in CI to reduce the wall-time on our test suites. This technique has sped up the delivery of new features on all of our subsequent projects.

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