For the first website development project, what were your goals? What were you looking for in improved solution?
There was a lot of integration that we wanted, to provide users an ability to use videos, but then also to be able to produce [videos] on mobile applications and integrate that production into displaying on the Web. There were a bunch of APIs [application programming interfaces] that they built for us to connect the backend of the mobile apps to the website.
One of the biggest things for us that we were really happy about was speed. When we originally contacted some other developers or were even looking to develop this in-house, we could not complete the work in the amount of time that we had. It was pretty short. It was, I think, under two months. We had contacted them and laid out a schedule. They actually met it, which was terrific.
What is the scope of the more recent project?
They’ve been working on it probably for the last six weeks or so. The technical detail about this is we have digital ads that get displayed. It’s part of what’s called a real-time bidding network. Basically, you go to a website, and there’s a corner that displays an ad. They’re building Flash containers that basically take a bunch of information and display video, text, and images in a container to the user. So, they come in a lot of different sizes. There is also a bunch of logic on the backend that looks at what its inputs are, and then makes some decisions about what to display to the user.
There’s also an interesting component where we could feed the Flash container raw images, and it can do what’s called a Ken Burns effect. In other words, it takes images and treats them as video and does an animation effect on them.
Ultimately, we’re doing part of the ad network with Flash containers and then part of the ad network with HTML5 containers. They [the Montana Banana team] have been pretty essential to us, because we don’t have that skill set doing Flash programming. It’s not Flash design. It’s really something different, but it’s underlying Flash programming, and we don’t have that skill set at our company right now. It’s been very helpful.
Are they also doing the HTML5 containers?
They aren’t. We’re doing the HTML5 containers in-house. We did have some questions for them about how to handle video inside HTML5, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. It’s not that bad.
What was your process for selecting Montana Banana Web Development to work with in the first place?
We talked, and we sent out some emails to other people we’ve worked with. We gathered three or four different firms, and we gave them our requirements. This was originally for the website. We talked about capabilities. They really seemed the most serious in terms of scoping the work and really giving us some solid deadlines and milestones, and being able to meet these limited timeframes that we had.
I’ll be honest. It really wasn’t cost for us. It was, “Do they have the skill set? Can they finish the project in time? Do we feel like they have a handle on what the project is?” They seemed most interested and really asked the most questions that were relevant to the project. That’s the best way to describe it. They seemed the most engaged, and they seemed the most capable of delivering on time.
When did you begin working with them?
It was probably eight months ago when we engaged them, and then they delivered the first components about six months ago. We’ve done some revisions since then.
Can you give a sense of the size of the initiative, using either a cumulative cost figure or a personnel work hour figure?
I don’t know if I could give you the personnel work hour figure or the number of engineers. I think, at the peak, they didn’t have more than two to three engineers working on it. Off the top of my head, I want to say that the total cost was something like $60,000 to $80,000.
When do you expect the Flash containers project to be completed?
That should probably be done today. We’ve been doing some revisions. It’s a little bit ongoing. They finished the first phase, which was basically a prototype, about three weeks ago. Now, we’re actually doing the production launch version. Those are supposed to be delivered this afternoon.
We’ve had regular meetings with them in the last few days. He’s been demoing the new version. It looks pretty good. If we have additional templates, we’ll probably feed those back to them in the next few weeks.