• Social care software technologies

    John Boyle

    OCC provides social care software technologies that allow local authorities, service providers and the public to interact efficiently. Over the past 6 years, the emphasis of our research has changed significantly due to social services policy changes. These encourage end-users (the public) to choose and drive activity, with local authorities having responsibility to monitor and manage the situation, allocate budgets, etc. Highly flexible and sophisticated systems are needed to allow individual user to effectively configure different services and workflows to[...]

  • Improving database performance


    DBA Julian Fletcher discusses some easy ways to improve database performance As anybody who has worked on projects involving a large amount of in-database processing will know, performance is a top priority. Clients usually consider poor performance to be a bug in much the same way as ‘traditional’ bugs (unhandled errors, getting the numbers wrong, things simply not working, etc). So our product and custom development release cycles include tasks to ensure we get good performance out of new features[...]

  • Blazor: a web UI framework running C# and .NET in the browser

    Luke Canvin

    The next generation of ASP.NET is on the horizon Back in August we ran a lunchtime miniconf video that introduced us to Blazor. It began as a proof of concept from ASP.NET team member Steve Sanderson, who saw an opportunity to run C# and .NET code natively in the browser by compiling it to WebAssembly – a highly performant, assembly-like language that runs alongside JavaScript. Back then he was using an old open-source project called DotNetAnywhere to provide access to[...]

  • Using cross targeting to allow .NET Framework projects to reference .NET Core projects


    Software consultant Matthew Clarke writes about how Visual Studio 2017’s cross targeting makes it easier to mix projects based on new technologies with existing code. Our new wave of product development projects has been steaming ahead with the latest in Microsoft technologies: .NET Standard v2, .NET Core v2, ASP.NET Core v2, Entity Framework Core v2. Quite fittingly then, sometimes you need two target frameworks. It’s not possible to forget about the whole of the product’s legacy codebase and sadly it’s[...]

  • Social care directory user experience: the results

    Luke Canvin

    A recent survey of social care directories found OCC’s MarketPlace offers one of the best user experiences for those seeking information and advice about care. Socitm, the society for IT practitioners in the public sector, carried out the survey in December 2017. It reviewed 152 council sites on a range of user experience criteria, including: how easy it was for a user to find the site content and presentation of information, including the clarity of headings and the relevance, continuity[...]

  • Disruption at OCC

    John Boyle

    Director John Boyle recently gave a talk on technology-led disruption and why a company must act as its own disruptor, continuously challenging the way it does things to remain innovative, efficient and an interesting place to work. Disruption is not a new concept in business. Disruption’s latest incarnation is the sharing economy, which is disrupting traditional business models, including those of the information technology age itself. Some argue that the zero-hour contract models of Uber and Airbnb are taking us[...]

  • Success stories: women in tech awards

    Beverley Newing

    OCC developer and diversity volunteer Beverley Newing won high honours in 4 women in tech awards last year. She discusses her experiences and the benefits of such awards. Over the past few years, there has been a big surge in the number of awards that recognise the efforts and achievements of women in the technical sector and shine a spotlight on female talent. Highlighting women who have successful tech careers in this way can encourage more women to come into[...]

  • Avoiding deadlocks and blocking with the ForceSeek Table Hint


    OCC database expert Julian Fletcher describes how SQL’s ForceSeek can be used to combat database deadlocking and blocking. One particular way of using tables in a SQL database can make them particularly prone to deadlocking (and deadlocking’s sickly cousin, blocking). This is where ‘working data’, generated by and used in a complex set of calculations, is temporarily stored in one or more tables. Whereas any one process will probably access only a very small percentage of the rows in a[...]

  • In experienced UX hands

    Sally Croft

    The most successful apps and products generally have something in common: as well as meeting a need, they are a pleasure to use. They provide the features a user wants in a clear and intuitive way, and create a satisfying journey that anticipates and focuses on user needs at every step. So how do you get it right? How can you be sure that the interface presenting your innovation to the marketplace is providing great usability?

  • Xamarin.Forms 2.5 – Forms.Context .Confusion


    Software consultant Matthew Clarke shares his experience of moving to version 2.5 of Xamarin.Forms. Despite only being a minor version bump over Xamarin.Forms 2.4, version 2.5 has made some rather radical breaking changes. These are currently only “Obsolete” warnings but I’d advise you to act now before they become build failures. The most disruptive of deprecations affect Android but they touch all parts of your code. The chances are they’ll affect you, as they touch some fundamental areas of Xamarin.Forms.[...]

  • The TAB – HTML & CSS


    The TAB is OCC’s Technical Advisory Board, made up of representatives from OCC’s project and product groups. The TAB’s role includes reviewing technology developments and their impact on the company’s software development. Articulate.js Articulate.js is a simple, free (MIT license) jQuery plugin that uses the Web Speech API to speak the content of a web page. This could be useful in a broad range of circumstances, but particularly as an assistive technology for those that have problems reading text on[...]

  • The TAB – mobile development


    The TAB is OCC’s Technical Advisory Board, made up of representatives from OCC’s project and product groups. The TAB’s role includes reviewing technology developments and their impact on the company’s software development. Xamarin & .NET Standard (Core) .NET Standard is now supported by Xamarin. The .Net Standard is the specification of which .NET APIs are available on all .NET runtimes – including the full framework, Core and now Xamarin. The upshot is that if you use a library or assembly[...]

  • Work experience with the Design team

    Website Team

    My name is Florence. I am an A-Level student from Oxford, studying English, Philosophy and Psychology, but I also have an interest in art and design. I spent the last week at OCC, doing work experience with the design team. I’m still unsure about the career path I will take, but this week has been beneficial in helping me learn about design. With the help of the team, I worked on multiple projects, starting with making a banner for the[...]

  • The TAB – mobile testing


    The TAB is OCC’s Technical Advisory Board, made up of representatives from OCC’s project and product groups. The TAB’s role includes reviewing technology developments and their impact on the company’s software development. Test your production code Things can go wrong between debug and release builds: conditional compilation linking incorrect project configuration/build dependencies This means we need to test the production build. However, this is not always as simple as it sounds. Apple makes it almost impossible to test release builds[...]