Nimbus Focuses on New Software Development

Nimbus partnered with Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) to host work placements for two students as part of our ongoing commitment to continuous improvement of Nimbus software. The two trained software developers developed a proof of concept to update certain Nimbus features and make our software even more mobile friendly. We continue to bring our customers the best, most comprehensive ERP software for contractors.

Last winter, NMIT students Warren Lourens and Claudio Muller spent their work experience program at Nimbus creating a new cloud based version of the popular Mobile Worker feature in Nimbus.

Nimbus General Manager Gail Murdoch sits on the IT Advisory Board at NMIT because she is enthusiastic about supporting new talent and the direction of IT in the region. “Nimbus has been working alongside NMIT with the intern program as it allows Nimbus to support education in the IT industry, a skill set we all need.”

The Bachelor of Information Technology degree program at NMIT is a three-year program that focuses on computer networking and software development. In the third year, students can choose to complete a work placement or complete an academic project.

Growing up in Mārahau, Claudio Muller did coding in high school, but he didn’t begin to picture himself as a software developer until after he spent time travelling. The program at NMIT appealed to him because it provided schooling close to home and grants to lure students into technology careers.

The three year degree also interested Warren Lourens. Originally from South Africa, he always enjoyed coding, and enrolled at NMIT so that he would have a qualification and a better chance at future employment. His interests are primarily in mobile development, and so the work placement at Nimbus was an ideal focus.

The Project

Nimbus’s developer team leader, Banphot Uthaphan proposed enhancing a core Nimbus feature using React, a Java programming language. The project’s scope included a client user interface and a connection to the database. 

Claudio notes that Nimbus is a powerful ERP software with a large amount of code and capability. The goal for the proof of concept project was to rewrite the mobile worker application as a cloud-based feature. 

“The whole premise behind the project was to rebuild one of Nimbus’s software components.” He and Warren were tasked with replicating the functionality of the Mobile Worker feature with a different program language and making it fully responsive. 

In order to deliver the Nimbus project in the 14 weeks of work placement time, the work was divided into two parts: the client user interface, or front end, and the back end which linked the server to the database. 

Warren says he requested to work on the back end in order to improve an area which he considered as a weakness of his. “I ended up working on the logic side of things for the website. I was pretty happy with the fact that I was able to improve a skill set. Now I feel very competent in the back end logic side of things.” 

Claudio built the front end of the project using React, a Javascript library that is used to build user interfaces. He says the big draw was working with the technology he had been learning and that he was passionate about. React is the premier technology for making responsive interfaces. That means that the application can resize to any screen, including a phone, tablet, or laptop.

The Work

Unfortunately, the work placement coincided with COVID lockdowns. Claudio and Warren spent a little more than a month in the Nimbus office before they had to begin remote work. The remainder of their time was spent working together using technologies such as Microsoft Teams. 

On a near daily basis Warren and Claudio logged in to Facetime to test that their work on the two sides of the project were free from conflicts or problems. 

Prior to going remote they had time to get to know Banphot and Developer Daniel Karolyi, who were both graduates of the same NMIT programme. “They did a fantastic job of accommodating us, says Warren. Not once did we feel like we were there in the background. From day one, they included us as part of the team.”

The Result

By the end of the work placement, the proof of concept was 99% complete with five key requirements completed. As an example, Warren points out that the proof of concept had to adhere to the same security level as the current software. 

“We were really happy with where we got to,” says Claudio, who acknowledges that the project’s scope was ambitious, even without accounting for the pressure of lockdown. 

Ultimately, the proof of project was a success because of the development work that Claudio and Warren completed. They provided Nimbus with proof that it was viable to achieve the level of professionalism expected by Nimbus’s customers using a different programming framework.

Poster Night

The final assignment for NMIT students is a poster night, a way to show off achievements from the work placement. Students create a poster that explains the project they completed. Attendees include local technology leaders looking for potential employees, advisors who are marking the poster project, and of course friends and family. 

Poster night was a big success for Claudio, who landed a role at a local IT company. The CEO attends NMIT poster nights to find new developer talent. Claudio has a paid internship and is working with similar technology to what he was doing at Nimbus.

The Review

Warren says, “It felt like I found the thing that I enjoyed the most. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Nimbus and it made me think this is the type of job for me.”

“I really liked that during the placement we got four months to focus on one project,” says Claudio. “We were able to take a lot of time to get all the details polished exactly how we wanted them. The biggest benefit for me was working in an actual team of developers. We had a slightly different project than what (the other developers) were doing but we would still interact every day. You can’t really get that experience any other way.”

“The Nimbus system is about continually improving data utilisation for our clients and presenting information in an easy to use format, and at a time, that works for each individual, says Gail Murdoch. “This project specifically focused on the ease of data utilisation in the field. It will enable our clients to work even faster and with more accuracy. This is an exciting development.”

“Before we begin work on any feature enhancements for Nimbus Software Development, we undergo a rigorous process to prove that we can adhere to industry standards while also supporting our customers’ needs,” said Banphot Uthaphan.  

“Thanks to the hard work of our NMIT interns Claudio and Warren we know how to plan for our beta development, which means that our path to new software development will be faster.” 

Release date: 16th February 2022