Engineering at IXDS

Let's take a little journey through the evolution of engineering at IXDS.
We started off as a few nerdy designers

with a thing for technology. Hardware and software prototyping, or rather solving tricky HCI problems, has always been a core strength of IXDS. Today, we cherish our technological generalists - or Creative Technologists - as they are not only in love with one certain tool or toolchain, but are always searching for (and find) the right tool for a specific challenge. Nevertheless, we deep-dive into the languages and tools we frequently use to gain a solid understanding of their strengths, limitations and potential.

It was a 5 to 4 vote

when we introduced the concept of "Bureaus" – we almost called them "Gangs". With our Bureau structure we have created knowledge sharing pools within the engineering team. Most projects we work on either have a hardware component, run or require software, or rely on web technology. Most of our engineers belong to two Bureaus to make sure they can foster their generalists' flexibility and curiosity but, at the same time, have a community of like-minded experts to talk to.

The Bureau of Hardware

builds physical prototypes around sensors and actuators. They are masters of the breadboard and quickly iterate from low-level prototypes to a small series of finished products. Give them an invention and they'll find the use case. Give them a use case and they will come up with a way to build the solution.

The Bureau of Software

is home to our serious software developers. Their weapons of choice are C, C++, Java, Python and LUA, and they will make sure everybody else writes elegant and solid code. Our Bureau of Software is often involved in complex setups: prototyping an entire kitchen of the future, ensuring the seven different machines involved all talk to each other - that's their thing.

The Bureau of Web

is our speedboat. Whenever we want to quickly explore concepts or simulate an interaction, they are our first choice. Understanding more basic UX and UI questions first without the restrictions of embedded solutions, performance issues or compatibility that we will tackle at a later stage, we start with web technology and take it from there. Today, the Bureau of Web uses tools like Angular, Bootstrap, Foundation, NodeJS, Grunt and Yeoman to name but a few. Tomorrow, they will most likely have moved on to the next cool thing in web tech.

As many of our projects call for individual solutions

we have long understood that failing early and often is and will be part of our daily work. We therefore work in tag teams to make sure we have a partner to discuss with and learn from on every project. Tag team partners are free to choose how they want to work: (cross-functional) pair programming, code reviews or component splits - the tag team decides. In bi-weekly engineering exchanges we discuss current projects, their challenges and how we (plan to) solve them on a meta level. This is also the place for short introductory sessions to new frameworks, components or methods. 

Engineering at IXDS means

we will give a service or idea a physical and digital shape. Engineers are involved in all phases of our projects and contribute to all stages: tech reviews and consulantancy, feasibility studies, design, implementation and rollout. Along these steps and together with designers, clients and users we iterate through various degrees of prototypes and enable learning, improvement and progress towards the best possible solution.