Global business intelligence vendor Yellowfin is investing in the best available Java technologies and people to stay at the forefront of web-based BI software development.
Since 2003, the company has been actively seeking out talented programmers and architects to keep its web-enabled suite of products at the cutting edge of usability and design.
“One of our key strategies has been to embrace the best available Java technologies and know-how and then let our creative architects and developers run with the technology,” says Yellowfin's Chief Operating Officer, Justin Hewitt.
“So far the approach has been really successful in achieving our product goals.”
The Java platform is attractive to both new graduates and seasoned developers. It enables people to work with one language set across platforms and devices, and to interact with large peer communities.
CEO Glen Rabie believes the approach has paid off: “We believe in investing heavily in building a product that does not require a user manual. Equally we are constantly surprised by the solutions and ideas our staff develop to make that a reality.”
Rabie points out that Yellowfin’s BI development involves constant innovation around the user interface: "You can develop hideous UI experiences with a GUI, but it is harder to get away with it these days. I think this is largely due to the influence of easy-to-use online interfaces. People are now demanding technology that is similar to their web experiences.”
In sourcing staff, (“our greatest asset”), Rabie says:”We are paying for innovation, not coding. If we were to go down the path of offshore development, would we get the same level of care for the product? I don’t think so. The strength of our approach is in investing in talented people and then allowing them to work together to come up with robust and creative solutions."
Over 60 per cent of Yellowfin's developers in the Melbourne office were hired straight out of university.
"Our people are passionate about software and technology," Rabie says. He adds that some staff work independently on open source projects in their own time.
“These are attitudes that we encourage and foster. We want people who are innovative, who can collaborate and come up with ideas to deal with problems not yet solved. But meeting the skills requirement is only one step. We also select those who can work in an environment where people are excited about solving tough problems and doing interesting work.”
Yellowfin's products have been built using Java technologies like J2SE, Spring, and Ajax. They have also absorbed several leading Java BI code sets like BIRT, Jasper and JFreeChart when extensions to the product were required.
Hewitt says: “What has our guys excited right now is using Java to develop solutions in WKT [a text markup language for representing vector geometry objects on a map] and WKB [database binary equivalent]. Java’s support for general geometric objects provides a perfect base for database geometry types, which once parsed and transformed into plane coordinates can be easily graphically represented. These representations can then be zoomed in and moved around on. In fact, Java’s capabilities were key to some of the new GIS features built into Yellowfin Release 4.0.”
With some 300 customers worldwide, Yellowfin has experienced 300 per cent growth over the past two years. In August 2008, the new flagship product Yellowfin 4.0 was released to an eager market. The developers who worked on the 4.0 feature list were challenged to build on 3.3 with integrated GIS, Google maps, Ajax View Builder and a raft of demanding requirements that customers had asked for beyond the traditional tables and graphs of legacy BI products.