What was the scope of their involvement?
We’ve done several projects with Shout Digital, and I’ll focus on the latest one for this review. We went into it with a worked-up specification of several changes we wanted done to our application, mainly around the ‘find my friend’ feature. This user-facing feature allows our members to find each other when they’re at sea.
Shout Digital added two parts to this ‘find my friend’ feature. The first part was enabling the device to continue sending background updates so that the position of the member can be continuously updated at a frequency of their own choice. Users have full control over whether and how often it does that. That is important when it comes to privacy, battery, and data usage, especially for phones on networks in tricky places.
The other aspect of the feature they worked on was a messaging system so that app members can communicate with each other. We went through a full design process with Shout Digital. We looked at whether to implement a functionality fairly similar to one of the existing messenger apps, or whether we implement something much simpler. Both of those approaches had drawbacks. We settled on the ability for members to initiate an email contact through ‘find my friend.’ Essentially, an API sends a message to our API, and we then send an email to the other member and put the two members in touch via email. The plan is to run with that for now and see how it runs in the future and look at what uptake is. We might revisit the more complicated options in the future, depending on the feedback that we get.
The whole application is built in Xamarin.Forms. We’ve talked about moving it to Xamarin Native, but it hasn’t happened yet. We have both the iOS and Android versions. We run our own web service, and the mobile app communicates via those servers with an API.
What is the team composition?
We had three main contacts. During the last round of development, it was particularly good having one main contact on the development side as well. We interacted directly with the key developer on our project and cut out the translation layer that one otherwise has in the middle of that. We also had a couple of very good project managers that we worked with.
How did you come to work with Shout Digital?
We had an application already being done in Xamarin.Forms in its last iteration, and we wanted to transfer that codebase over to someone. We were looking for another Xamarin developer. We did a thorough search of the UK and came up with a handful of companies that had the relevant skills. We put it out to tender, and it was a close running between Shout Digital and one other company. Shout Digital won it on both price and offering.
How much have you invested with them?
My company has spent £10,000 (approximately $12,400 USD).
What is the status of this engagement?
We initially found them at the end of 2017 when we searched for a new contractor, and we appointed them in January 2018. For this last project, we worked together from February–March 2020.