Product Development: Behind the Scenes

XTRF’s development process is very complex and not easy to describe. But we’re giving it our best shot, focussing on its main objectives. Hopefully this will help you better understand how we work and what motivates us to provide you with the best product possible.

The development department is divided into three teams: Developers (coders), UX specialists and QA engineers. Each team has different responsibilities but it is our combined effort which ensures a consistently high quality product.

  • Developers work in a scrum-agile environment. They do two week sprints in which they implement improvements, upgrade existing functionalities, and repair parts of the system as required. Each team member is an expert in a specific field and they share their knowledge with one another. Thanks to this collaborative way of working, they are able to identify the most appropriate solution to daily challenges.
  • UX (User Experience) Designers take care of how our product presents itself. Their work is based on a Lean UX Cycle rather than a traditional, more time-consuming UX process. By combining hard work with creativity, they’re able to meet the business’ expectations.
  • The Quality Assurance team, as the name suggests, is responsible for ensuring the quality of the product. Their main job is finding defects, limiting the risk of regression (that is, making sure software changes won’t result in problems), and improving efficiency. This is achieved through manual testing. However, we’re not able to “press every button” in the system. That’s why self-written automated tests are run each day to optimize our work and find things that a single human would not be able to.

Now that we’ve explained the structure of the department, it’s time to talk about how we categorize our goals. Let’s start with our external needs:

  • Security: in IT companies the most important thing is data. You share personal information with us and safeguarding it is our first priority. In order to do that we keep our libraries (collections of data and programming code) up to date. We also carry out penetration tests, both internally and by external experts.
  • Clients: We develop our application especially for you, and when you’re happy, we’re happy. Our platform UserEcho allows you to share your ideas and take part in discussions about the most desired features in XTRF . We keep an eye on conversations there, and the most popular ideas are discussed internally. Essentially, you are the fourth team in the development department.
  • Market: the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said “Nothing is permanent, except change.” We agree with that quotation because everything is in a constant state of change: our clients, our business partners and our competitors. We must adapt to these changes because the next five to ten years will be crucial for the translation industry.
  • New Technologies: a lot of new technologies like machine learning and machine translation will impact our future. We cannot avoid it, we must embrace it or else we’ll be left behind.

Now we will focus on our internal needs:

  • Security: as mentioned before, security is of the utmost importance to us. Without security there can be no quality. Security for XTRF is like the foundations for a house. No one would like to live in the most beautiful of houses if there was a high chance of it collapsing. Every day, we take measures to make sure that our foundations remain strong.
  • Time: we value our time because we understand how limited it is. Recurring tasks must be done in the most efficient way possible. Optimization is necessary for every company and there is always room for improvement. By introducing efficiencies where possible, we eliminate wasted time, improve our processes and boost innovation
  • Employees: XTRF’s biggest strength is its people. Work is not always easy, in fact it is often challenging, but we are committed to it. Every one of us makes a difference and has an impact on the final appearance of the product, at every level of development.
  • New Technologies: we want to work with new technologies not just because it is trendy, but because it increases our capabilities, allowing us to resolve tasks in the most efficient way. These new tools make it easier to transform abstract thoughts into actual products or improvements.

Every major or minor release follows the same pattern:

  1. Design: our UX team does research, prepares mock-ups and writes user stories to create a complete project. It covers everything from usability and functionality, through to the aesthetics.
  2. Development: time to code! In this stage, everything gets its physical representation. Code must be understandable to another colleague, and must be upgradeable.
  3. Code Review: each line of code written by a programmer must be reviewed by another. Thanks to this step, they keep the code clean, learn from each other, and find the best possible solution.
  4. Testing: the code will never be perfect, and that’s why testing is essential for every large project. After the code is written and reviewed, we test it extensively on ‘branches.’ After we confirm that everything works as intended, we push it forward to the next stage.
  5. Design Review: our user experience specialists evaluate features against design requirements. They check if everything meets these criteria, and that the context of use has not changed.
  6. Stabilization: one of the most intensive parts of development. We do test cases manually in most critical parts of the system. As of now, we have over 600 test cases. This is why we always try to automate as much as possible.
  7. Release: this is the part our customers are always asking about! By this point, everything has gone through the previous stages and all the teams are satisfied with the final outcome. We create patch notes, which detail the updates, corrections and improvements to the software. and we provide you the newest version of XTRF.

Since XTRF first began, a lot has been accomplished, and more is still to come. Having read this post, you should now know more about our motivations, and how we work. Together we can strive for continuous improvement in the translation industry, making us all better prepared to face the challenges just around the corner.

Piotr Ruszczak Photo
Piotr Ruszczak
Head of Development in XTRF. Working at XTRF for 6 years. Over 10 years experience as a developer working with various technologies.
Ernest Jamka Photo
Ernest Jamka
Mathematics buff who used to work as a chief mathematician for one of the biggest education portals in Poland. Ernest likes constant changes and new opportunities that expand his knowledge. He always looks for new areas to test his abilities, that's how he became an XTRF tester.