Introducing Visual Studio Code

Given the buzz in the air around this year’s Build conference, you may have missed their announcement on releasing a brand new code editor called Visual Studio Code or VS Code for short.

Why should you care? Simply put, this is an editor designed and optimized specifically for working with code.

I am a bit of an editor junkie and have used many (an actual screenshot of my task bar below):
my-editors

From left to right, that’s Brackets (from Adobe), Visual Studio, VS Code, Atom (from GitHub), Sublime Text and Notepad2.

I tend to switch between them choosing the right tool for the job. Lately, that has been VS Code. I really like what Microsoft has delivered. Not only is it cross platform (Winnows, Mac and Linux), but it’s finely tuned specifically for working with code.

This is only a beta release, but I would not let that stop you from installing it and taking a look at it. In the last 3 weeks, they’ve delivered two major updates as the team works towards their 1.0 release.

To find out more or download a copy (it’s completely free and open source), visit code.visualstudio.com.

Christmas Daddies Raises More Than $420,000

Christmas Daddies on Saturday raised over $420,000 for needy families in Atlantic Canada. Nicom has been a corporate sponsor for over 15 years, donating its time and talents to the web site and online electronic payment gateway for donations. It is something we are proud of, and we are proud of our employees who make this happen.

This year, special thanks go out to Mike Hatfield and Ryan Grant for making this a possibility. It is critical that these technologies run flawlessly throughout the telethon. It is a huge responsibility, one they take very seriously.

Nicom’s New Website

We practice what we preach and we’ve recreated our own corporate website (www.nicomit.com) so that it has a crisp message and is friendly to mobile devices, just like the ones we build for our customers.

I want to thank Ryan Grant for pulling out all stops to get this out in time, and to Mike Hatfield for doing all the things needing doing for making this all work technically. And to the sales and management team for content.

The goal is to always keep our website up-to-date and being representative of what we feel our value proposition is. Removing superfluous content, and moving it to a user-friendly CMS like WordPress will make this much easier than it’s been in the past.

Needless to say, I am delighted to have this important project completed.

Customized Mobile Business Apps Gaining Popularity

When we think of mobile apps, applications that work on a smartphone or tablet, we think primarily of games or downloadable versions of social media programs. The few mobile business applications we see are generic programs for such things as tracking the stock market or sales force automation.

But that has started to change, and there is a huge shift in building customized mobile applications that connect to your specific business data. When you think about it, it is the natural evolution for business IT systems.

Over the years, we’ve moved from monolithic mainframe programs to networked computer applications to web-based systems, and with each move came a wellspring of new capabilities and functionality. In each of these cases, it took a while for “simple” apps to prove the concept, and then more complex enterprise applications took advantage of the new technology.

That is what is happening with mobile. If you can get the weather on your mobile device, why not your corporate data? Well you can, and you can do so in a secure, real-time environment. Moreover, if done correctly, these applications will run on any mobile device via its web browser, meaning only one version of the application needs to be maintained that will work on any mobile device. It also means that you don’t need to use the “app store”, you don’t need to download anything, and you don’t need to worry about having to reinstall updates whenever changes are made to the application.

What we are finding is that only parts of an overall application need to be mobile-enabled, typically those used by the workforce in the field. Examples of ones we’ve written at Nicom include an automated sales tool for sales consultants, electronic forms used by marine pilots when they are on assignment, and applications used by seaport representatives when they are travelling the world.

That latter one is a good example to demonstrate, as it is publicly usable. To see it, simply use your mobile browser to go to www.halifaxgetsitthere.com/m.
Think about all the ways you could use your corporate data when you are out of the office, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could do so without even having to use a laptop or having to find a WIFI network.

Well you can. It is here, now. I’d be happy to discuss this with anyone who is interested. Call me at (902) 454-5656, or email me at pat.dentremont@nicomit.com.

Small Business Owners in HRM are Technology Savvy

If ever I had to put together an army, I’d recruit Costco shoppers for their sheer loyalty. My comments in last month’s column garnered more feedback than usual, most of it illuminating the privileges of membership which I so callously discounted in my remarks.

In my world, the privileges of membership usually relate to technology groups. One such group is the company I work for, and recently my business partner, Dave Nicholson, did a survey  to find out how small and medium-sized enterprises – SMEs – in the Halifax Regional Municipality make use of technology.

What he found was quite interesting. Read more