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The Worlds of Colab55

The Worlds of Colab55

Fri Apr 10 03:15:00 2015

When I first heard about Colab55 I became very excited for not only is it an example of how Perl is used by companies in non-English speaking countries as a solution but it was a project started by Breno Olivieras. Breno is well known to the Perl world and the local Brazillian community and is a White Camel awardee I have also worked with him on some projects and he is a great co-worker.

Colab55 manufacture, deliver and manage customer relations, bringing customers to the production studios through a system that is eerily similar to matchmaking. Their artists love it. One of the most compelling aspects that sells this service is the ease and zero cost of the operation to the collaborators.

Breno partnered and co-founded Colab55 with Barbara Veloso. Barbara is an UX designer and former Google employee, Breno describes her work as amazing and a brief look at Colab's pages will prove as a ready testament to this fact.

Colab55 are proud to be the first start-up operating with the Production House model in Brazil. They have just a few months of activity and are already hosting over two hundred artists with over two thousand designs. The designs cover a broad variety of products such as phone cases, throw pillows, fine-art posters, t-shirts, mugs, stickers and baby onesies.

However what really sets Colab55 apart is that they allow artists to have a say in each product's retail price, this is a game-changer for the artists both in control of their brand and image to engagement with the studios. Utilising this system they can raise their monthly income - so that they have full control over their royalties and artwork - making them secure.

Our main goal is to empower artists and make art and design more accessible by giving them tools to showcase their work and make money, while offering consumers and art lovers the opportunity to find unique and amazing pieces!

Colab55 love all their collaborators, but when pushed they pulled out a few favourite Studios:

Some of their latest and popular products:

The whole website, support tools and infrastructure are built in modern Perl, but that is no surprise with Breno as the technical lead. They have a large stack and codebase that relies on what they term as "great distributions" such as Dancer, DBIC, Text::Xslate and Imager, but that scratches the surface as this is a complete Perl solution. As Breno states:

I think I might have gotten used to it already, but what really surprised Barbara - still does, in fact - was (a) how quickly we were able to go from zero to a complete product (not just an MVP), (b) how easy it is to add new features and fix eventual issues, and (c) how wonderful and supportive the community is.

Breno goes further and shares these anecdotes with us:

As a production house, we had to apply the uploaded art to a product base in order to show it on our website as t-shirts, throw pillows and whatnot, without having to do it manually in photoshop. We have installed Imager and it worked great right out of the box, except some products needed the uploaded art to be transformed in a way that we just couldn't get right. When I said "I'll just ask the author on IRC", Barbara's face saddened as if all hope had been lost. She kept trying some options and re-reading the docs. "Try X", I said, just a few minutes later. She did and it worked perfectly. "How did you know that?" she asked. "Well, TonyC (the author) just replied to us" :)

Barbara does most of our JavaScript frontend programming too, but never really used other programming languages and doesn't consider herself a programmer, even for frontend. This one time I was working on something that required my full attention and there was a feature she really wanted to add to the site. I told her I'd do it later and kept on working. About an hour in I saw her really focused on the other side of the desk, typing and smirking and occasionally cheering, like a football fan watching an exciting match. As I curiously approached her screen, she laughed and dismissed me quickly, because she was "almost done with something" and wanted to surprise me. Turns out she had decided to see if she could implement that feature herself, and was amazed to see how well organized and easy to understand the code read to her! In the end, not only did she completely implement the feature and passed the code review with flying colours, she had also had time to understand, find and fix two minor bugs that were also on our list!

Developing the Colab55 codebase was not just a labour of love but a journey for both the founders:

we have had several fruitful encounters with authors and the community in general. Every time we hit a bug in a third-party module, we make sure to send the issue back to the authors, preferably with a patch or pull request attached to it. So far we have contributed to Dancer plugins that we use and love, some helper distributions that help us quickly deliver new features to our customers, and even published on CPAN our own open source distributions when we couldn't find one to suit our needs.

Some of the updates that Colab55 have contributed to include Dancer::Plugin::Auth::Google to easily authenticate users with their Google accounts, and Net::Moip to interact with a local payment gateway.

We're really excited to work with a language and a community that helps us achieve so much in so little time, and hope to contribute back to it as much as we can

Colab55 is an exciting Modern Perl project combining not just a strong technical lead well versed in a modern Perl stack and community projects; but a front end developer who has come from knowing nothing of the Perl world, to be immersed in the community and language as an outsider and now advocates participation. Please take the time to visit their site and help promote their efforts.

Colab55 are readily found on Social Media, make sure to look them up:

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