At the core of West Arete’s expertise is web and mobile application development. We specialize in designing and developing long-lived production-quality web and mobile apps for higher education, often starting from little more than a concept.
We bring deep knowledge of the academic computing environment; we know how to integrate with your university’s authentication system; we understand universities’ security, accessibility, and hosting requirements; and we’re adept at integrating seamlessly with other data sources and services.
Don’t feel that you need to have your idea for an application fully fleshed out before you come to us. We often begin projects that exist only in concept. One of the benefits of working with an experienced Product Owner is that we can explore the existing pain points and help to define the requirements for the application, and the measurable outcomes that we all hope to achieve. We arrive at the best design when we’re combining the “domain knowledge” of your stakeholders with the the technical expertise of our team.
This early analysis allows us to work with you to develop a budget and plan for the application. We then develop the proposal and work with your business/finance office and purchasing department to get final clearance to proceed.
Our team always develops production code using test-driven development. This technique of writing automated tests allows us to check our code for correctness as we write it, while building a library of tests that help to ensure that a change in one place doesn’t break the application in a different place. This practice is a critical component of writing mission-critical software, or any software that is expected to remain reliable and evolve over time.
When we deliver code, our continuous integration server ensures that all tests are passing, and then we deliver the working software to a “beta” server, so that it can be evaluated by the necessary stakeholders before being deployed to production. This staged approach is part of our quality control to help ensure that only fully-vetted code makes it into production use.
Our team is familiar with a number of different web and mobile frameworks and languages.
We often develop web applications using Ruby on Rails. Mobile applications can be written for native iOS, Android, or cross-platform with React Native.
Our development process revolves around a precise implementation Scrum, considered to be the state of the art for software project management. We deliver production-quality software every week, so that the actual state of project progress is always readily apparent. We work off of a quantifiable backlog, so that there’s real data that shows whether we’re on track or not.
We have a certified ScrumMaster and certified Product Owner on our staff. We work closely with your stakeholders so that they can guide the project’s vision, without having to be down in the weeds of weekly sprints with our development team.
Often a critical requirement is that a web or mobile application integrates with the university’s authentication system. In addition to maintaining compliance with security policies, this helps to ensure that important passwords don’t spread, and that new and departing users are on-boarded and off-boarded properly. Our team has extensive experience in this area with Internet2 and multiple university authentication systems.
West Arete is extremely versatile when it comes to selecting the proper hosting environment for your application. With extensive [devops capabilities], we’re comfortable managing the application on a 3rd party cloud service, on your university’s cloud service, or directly on your university’s in-house computing facility. We’re able to work with you to select the right strategy.
By default, we assign all intellectual property rights to your university. This is the default for our Master Services Agreement, which will be on file with your purchasing department. This avoids any conflict of interest, and ensures that all the work that we do remains with your team and reinforces your efforts.
Once the development phase of the project is complete and your application is live in production, this is where its lifetime actually begins. Many of our clients follow a project such as this with a [service contract] to ensure that the application continues to evolve and receive the proper support.
We can serve as your team’s technical point of contact for the application with the university’s IT staff. We’ll keep you in the loop and ensure that there isn’t a disconnect between your key stakeholders and the technical staff.
And if you’re intending for someone from your own team to maintain the application, consider our [mentoring services] to ensure that we’ve achieved the maximum possible amount of knowledge transfer, so that your team member can benefit from our team’s expertise and make our skills and tools part of your team’s own portfolio of expertise.
The first step is often a zero-pressure phone call to answer questions and explore whether we both feel that there could be a fit.