Archive for the ‘Developer’ Category

We are hiring: Sysadmin/DevOps role in Bristol

Jess Henderson - October 8th, 2014

My name is Jess and I’m a developer at Delib, one of Team Rubber’s three companies.  We develop and host web apps for government customers around the world. Citizens use our apps to participate in decision-making.  I like being a part of that – it genuinely feels like we’re doing something that matters.

Things at Delib are exciting right now.  We have a big sales pipeline and we’re rolling out sites for new customers all the time on servers in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but it’s a lot for us developers to look after.  We are not sysadmins, and managing international ops in addition to improving and maintaining our apps is a bit like spinning plates.

Our customers have rigorous uptime requirements, and all our sites are monitored by Pingdom.  Pingdom often sends us texts in the middle of the night and then we have to debug server issues at 3am while half asleep (or, in a recent fiasco, from a service station on the M20).  Frankly, it’s beginning to piss us off.  We need these issues resolved once and for all.

What we’ll need from you

Essentially, we need you to keep our servers online, keep our customers’ data safe and secure, and help us scale our operations internationally, so that we developers can carry on with what we’re best at – developing our apps.

We aren’t looking for someone just to work down a task list that already exists. We have some ideas about the kind of configurations we like, but we expect you to be able to suggest improvements.  The first thing you’ll be doing is gathering requirements, investigating alternatives and coming up with a proposal to modernise and standardise our hosting environment.

You’ll be working closely with the development team – no “sysadmin in the basement”.  My secret hope is that once you’re here, I’ll never have to SSH into another production box or wrangle another apache config again, but realistically we all know this probably won’t be the case.  Therefore we need you to be able to document everything clearly and comprehensively.  Documentation is key if you ever want to go on holiday without us texting you to demand information!

As I mentioned before, the job involves on-call.  We pay a get-out-of-bed fee, although ideally you’ll automate all that nonsense away.

Our existing tech

This is what we use at the moment, so it’s vital that you’re familiar with it, even if it’s just so that you can capably manage the migration to something else:

  • Our production boxes run a mixture of CentOS and FreeBSD, with VMWare ESXi for managing VMs.  We need these to stay online, patched and monitored.
  • All our sites are served through Apache.  Ideally you can write Apache rewrite rules in your sleep.  If you prefer Nginx or anything else then you’ll need to make a persuasive case for switching.
  • We write our own software in Python, so if you have to write your own tools then Python is preferred.
  • We use Munin and Pingdom for monitoring, Redmine for ticketing, and a mixure of git and SVN for version control.
  • We’re not currently using ITIL or ISO 27001, but anticipate introducing at least ITIL in the next year.  If you have experience with these we’d be interested in hearing about it.
  • You’ll need to support the development environment as well as production.  You don’t need to look after the office laptops, printers etc; we have that covered.
  • We have servers around the world because our customers really need data (including backups) to stay physically in their territory.  You’ll probably need to become familiar with data protection and infosec requrements for all the different territories in which we operate.

General stuffs

We work from an open-plan studio in a listed building in Bristol’s historic King Street, which recently seems to have become the craft beer capital of the South West (the street, that is, not our office).  We’re a sociable bunch – we drink together and often go out for company lunches; there are plenty of interesting places to get food nearby.

It’s probably a full-time permanent position, but a lot of our developers and testers have part-time contracts with the option to work extra days by mutual agreement.  If this is of interest then it’s something we can discuss.  Most of us work 10am – 6:30pm but feel free to work 9 – 5:30 if that floats your boat.

Interested? Drop Tom a line with CV and covering letter:
No agencies please! We know where you are, we’ll call if we need you.

Quality Assurance jobs in Bristol

Stan Crofts - October 1st, 2013

This job has now closed.

Thank you to all who applied, we are reviewing the applications and will be in touch shortly.


This job is a full time, permanent position, working from our office in the centre of Bristol. Depending on your experience, we’ll pay a salary between £18,000 and £25,000. Really, we care more about your diligence and personal qualities than experience in QA. We are willing to hire people who do not have experience in QA at the low end and raise their pay as their skills develop.

Why I like doing QA for Team Rubber:

Hi I’m Stan. Originally, the thing that attracted me to QA was that it was a job, any job at all. I fell into it as a graduate who didn’t really know what I wanted to do. For quite a lot of the people who have been doing QA in Team Rubber, it was their first QA job. It generally works out quite well.

I started out in QA working for a company that made smartphone apps. I stuck with QA because I found myself learning new things about software development, technology and what people have to do to get good products out the door. It’s the same kind of learning that makes Team Rubber’s account managers enjoy their jobs.

It feels good to work as part of the team on making a thing better. Being part of the team that builds an artefact, instead of just processing lots of stuff, means that there’s always this nice thing that you’ve built. You can point at it and take pride. I always feel really involved in Team Rubber. People listen to the suggestions I make about how we should do things and how we explain things to people.

Inside Team Rubber, QA people work in several teams at once, so you’re never just stuck on one thing for months and months. You get to take on a range of different products, and it’s interesting to work with different sets of people.


testing mobile apps Quality Assurance jobs in Bristol

Andy and Neal testing a web application on a group of different devices.

QA work requires a lot of diligence and a bit of curiosity. You’ve got to have a kind of imagination that helps you dream up ways to break things, especially in ways that other people might have missed. You have to be completionist and to take pride in making sure that the thing you’re working on is completely finished. You’ll need some self-direction to be able to do things like clear bug tickets for one project while you’re waiting for the developers on a different one to react to something.

In this job, you will spend most days flicking between different mobile and desktop browsers, looking at three or four different apps. You’ll do testing of new features and some manual regression testing. We’ll teach you everything we know about QA over time: how to do it, how to look for interesting types of bugs, more ways to break things, how to spot accessibility problems, how to automate as much testing as you can, and so on.

Because it’s a small company, you’re quite autonomous. The company is quite flat and you pick up responsibility very quickly. You’ll get told, “You have responsibility for doing this. If you can think of how to do it better then tell us and do it.” There’s authority that comes with the responsibility; you will be expected to say, “that’s not good enough to give to customers”, and no one (except possibly the boss) can overrule you.

The people here are really friendly. Lunch is great! The Bristol office is surrounded by a lot of really good lunch places and there are loads of cosy pubs too. The whole product development team is quite tight-knit; we invite everyone to come along when we go out to drink together in the evenings, usually about once or twice a week.

The atmosphere is pleasant. We don’t have anything like a really stuffy, segregated cubicle office. We’ve got a colourful open-plan office. About half the time, someone has music playing. There’s always something going on.

Contact details:

If this sounds good to you, please get in touch. Send us a cover letter (to and your CV. We’re more interested in covering letters than in CVs. If we like the look of yours we’ll get you in for a standard hiring interview.

We will not accept applications via recruitment companies.

Programming jobs for nice, friendly human beings

Richard Barrell - October 1st, 2013

This position has now been filled but thank you for your interest 🙂


Hi. I’m Richard. I write software for a company called Delib, which is part of Team Rubber. We make web applications for governments to ask their citizens what they think about things. If you like to write computer programs for making strangers’ lives better then I would like you to come and work for Delib, too.

I’m going to write briefly about the job, then the reasons why I like to work here, and finally about what I would like you to do for us.

The job, briefly:

We have some web applications written in Python, running on Linux and FreeBSD. I am one of 3 programmers employed (plus one freelancer) to work on and improve them. We want to hire more programmers to work on them so that we can remove bugs and add features more quickly. This means that we need people who understand or can rapidly learn Python, HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Git. Familiarity with Unix-like operating systems and networking would help, too. Depending on experience, the salary for this job will range between about £25,000 to £35,000.

Why I like to work here:

We have a pleasantly-informal atmosphere. The dress code for programmers is, roughly, “wear clothes”. In Delib, the word “professional” refers to being conscientious about your work, not how you look. Our sister company VAN has one programmer who works here specifically because we didn’t ask him to cut off his dreadlocks. 🙂

On most days, we’ll have music playing in the office. About once a month, on average, someone will bring in a pet dog or a small child, at which point productivity plummets in a fit of cooing and doting. We are always grateful when this happens.

We’re a pretty tight-knit group. We lunch together about half the time and go out for drinks or dinner about once a week. We are still friends with most of the people who have worked for us in the past and moved elsewhere. For instance, Adam, who moved on from Team Rubber recently, comes out with us about once a fortnight. We usually spend the evening at Renato’s next door, enjoying the pizza and cider.

burning rubber 2013 beautiful Programming jobs for nice, friendly human beings

The bonfire at Burning Rubber in 2013. Burning Rubber is an annual party that we hold every summer.

Delib has a mostly-flat hierarchy. We’re led by a managing director (and co-founder), Andy Parkhouse. Mostly, people report firstly to their team and secondly to their boss. We’re not a vertically-oriented get-promoted-or-you-get-fired kind of organisation. We also don’t do the whole miserable “fire the bottom 10% of the company every year” thing made famous by high-pressure financial firms. We prefer to hire good people and then stay friends with them.

We practice a couple of different agile processes. We use variants of Scrum and Kanban, for managing tracks of work with different types of deadline and delivery date. We insist that people try to stick to the process that their current assignment uses, but we also make sure that every two to four week “sprint” of work includes a meeting to talk about how it went, where anyone can make any suggestion to make the process that they have to follow more useful. If someone convinces the room, we’ll start working with the changed version straight away.

What I would like you to do for us:

I want you to join our team. I don’t care what your age, gender, race, or religious, spiritual or political views are. We don’t even discriminate on grounds of text editor choice. I use both Emacs and vi (not vim) myself, but most people in Delib are using TextMate.

I want you to write succinct, beautiful, self-documenting Python code with sensible unit tests whenever it is possible to do so, and carefully-thought-out Python code with comments describing all of the invariants and extra tests specifically for the fiddly bits when it isn’t.


our king st studio Programming jobs for nice, friendly human beings

Our studio office in the centre of Bristol. We share this office with two sister companies, Rubber Republic and Viral Ad Network.

I want you to write HTML fluently, without really needing to think about it. I want you to write JavaScript with the same level of care as you write Python. I want you to write CSS that can be maintained easily. I want you to be able to follow our not-too-overcomplicated Git workflow so that you can share your excellent work with me.

I would like you to be able to use Unix-like operating systems. I will insist that you use a laptop with OS X or Linux on it for development, even if in a virtual machine. All of our development team do customer support on a rotation, so you will eventually be asked to make changes on production servers, most often to change some or other piece of Apache configuration. I don’t expect you to know Apache off-hand when you arrive; you will be able to get by by learning on the fly, as we only use a small subset of its configuration language on a day-to-day basis.

I want you to be nice enough that the account managers won’t be scared of you except on Halloween. I’d like it if you came out with us in the evenings every once in a while, but that’s not mandatory at all. I definitely want you to smile widely when I buy you a silly Christmas present once a year. (I don’t want you or anyone else to reciprocate; handing people small amusing gifts is my own hobby, not anyone else’s!)

I want you to be flexible about what your next task is and capable of learning on the fly. We have a lot of different systems to look after. I want you to be willing to ask questions to get at all of the information that people have never thought to write down. I will love it if you are conscientious about making sure to write it down immediately afterwards!

Contact details:

If this sounds good to you, please get in touch. Send us a cover letter (to and your CV. We’re more interested in covering letters than in CVs. If we like the look of yours we’ll get you in for a standard hiring interview.

We will not accept applications via recruitment companies.

Programming and development that doesn’t suck

Andy Parkhouse - August 5th, 2013

This position has now been filled but thank you for your interest 🙂

We’re looking for a Developer to work with either Viral Ad Network or Delib. These companies are part of Team Rubber; you can find out more from our blogs. We think we have a pretty good environment in which to write software. We have a big airy studio in a listed building in Central Bristol. It’s not perfect; it’s a bit busy, but we care and say thanks, and we go out for lunches and drink together after work and I reckon that counts for a lot. We’ve got pretty good at using agile development processes like Scrum and Kanban. We also have version control, testing, and decent chairs (or sofas to work on if that’s more your style). Bring your own laptop or we can supply one – you’ll get a decent quality Macbook Pro.


Typically we work well with people who’ve got a Computer Science degree and have been coding since at least their early teens. YMMV. We prefer people who can write.


We need to get some web app and operations stuff done, here’s the outline:

– We generally use XHTML, CSS and Javascript. There may be other ways to do it, but we’ve found these ones are pretty good and not too much hassle. We have to support a wide range of browsers including, increasingly, mobiles and tablets.


– We generally use python. Generally python doesn’t suck. We work with python frameworks including Pyramid, Zope and Plone. You don’t need to have used these, but experience with a web framework might be useful.


– There are some database things to do. Sometimes in various flavours of SQL or NoSQL or whatever.


– We have lots of devops things, including deployment automation for servers around the world; sysadmin and shell scripting ftw.


– We’ll like you more if you can combine programming and UI/UX; we try to avoid silos, I prefer working with people who can solve an interesting computational problem and put together a good GUI to hide the computation from the humans. Being a photoshop guru is not essential though.


Could be full-time, part-time or freelance scenario. There’s a bunch of things to get done right now. They’re usually interesting. There’ll probably be some more things to do after that. Sound interesting? Senda cover letter and your CV to We don’t place too much faith in CVs, the covering letter is really what we look at. If we like the look of yours we’ll get you in for a standard hiring interview. No applications will be accepted via recruitment companies.




Andy (Director) and Jess (Developer)


Building apps? Sweatbox them. We just started doing this, and it works.

Andy Parkhouse - January 23rd, 2013

WTF is sweatboxing?
Film production technique from Disney, also used by Pixar. Animators gather every morning with the film’s director to review previous day’s work (rushes).

  • animation is time-consuming
  • changes are costly and painful
  • many many people are working on a film at once
  • the work needs to fit together so that the vision and story flow

Linky linky

Called Sweatbox because…

  • the room Disney used was hot
  • work people have slaved over is ruthlessly, brutally scrutinised

Why use Sweatbox when building apps?

  • all the same production problems as animation, but with user experience, usability, support and maintenance added for Extra Fun Times
  • quickly find what isn’t working (team-sized variant of hallway testing)
  • find opportunities for plus-ing (Pixar’s technique for adding more to good ideas)
  • you want to build an outstandingly good artefact, right? So critique what you’re building, honestly and relentlessly

Things Sweatbox isn’t:

  • this is not the standup meeting for whatever agile methods you’re using (standup is not a place for critique)
  • not testing with end users against their actual needs
  • not a planning meeting
  • not tea and biscuits meetings
  • not a beasting session for individuals on the team

How are we doing it?

  • big TV – not the real environment an app is used in, but big = easier to see (grouping around a single laptop is terrible, and is even less like using the real app)
  • standing up, creates freedom to move and think, to enter into or withdraw from confrontation, and to move to point at things
  • done on the floor where the rest of the team (account managers, sales consultants etc) work, so they can be drawn in quickly for testing + opinion

Do these or you’re doing Sweatbox wrong:

  • no holds barred – total honesty
  • BUT critique the artefact not the person
  • “did you consider [xyz]?”: good
  • “this is going to cause support issues”: good
  • “you should have done [xyz]”: bad
  • “that flow sucks because [xyz]”: good
  • “you have completely screwed this up”: bad
  • “would [xyz] work better?”: good
  • “you are a dumbass”: bad

Wot no picture?
Nah, it’s just us standing round a TV. Imagine it if you must.

Hiring: Software Testing / Test Automation

Andy Parkhouse - May 21st, 2012

We’re rebuilding a big web app and I need someone to take care of testing and engineering test automation.

We have a decent environment (in Bristol) where we write software. It’s not perfect; it’s a bit busy, but we care and say thanks, and the people are ok and I reckon that counts for a lot. We also have version control and testing and decent chairs and lunch, a lack of fear and no pissy politics.

This job will work better if you’re in Bristol, face to face communication is valuable for this role, but we can also work with you remotely. We have irc, and a ticketing system and version control, and we’re used to working with people around the world (we have staff in multiple locations; some of us also contribute to open source projects). We can also overlap time zones (within reason), but you’ll have to provide your own chair and lunch. 😛

You’ll be testing software already, and familiar with tools similar to Selenium and Hudson, as well as being technically capable of talking to our programmers, and solving engineering problems. We’ll be doing interesting things with automation for deployments and system management, and you’ll need to be involved with this. It’s a fun challenge because mistakes cost us real money 🙂

It’s probably a full-time permanent position, but we’ll consider flexible ways of getting stuff done.

Interested? Drop me a line:

WooCons #1 Extras

Andy Parkhouse - May 20th, 2012

I really like the WooCons #1 icon set from WooThemes (drawn by Janik Baumgartner). It’s a great set, with a clean style, and is licensed under GPL(v2). Janik and WooThemes seem like nice people too 🙂

For one of our apps, I needed a couple of extra icons (‘Add Contact’ and ‘Boxes’).

‘Add Contact’ was pretty easy, I take no credit for that. ‘Boxes’ was a hack on Janik’s work, and I’m not totally satisfied with it, but I ran out of time to spend on it.

woocons1 tr extras WooCons #1 Extras

These extras are downloadable here as a zip, licensed under GPL(v2).

Google Image Search searches by image!

Tom Blockley - June 29th, 2011

So I went on to Google just now to look for an image, and I discovered that they now let you drag and drop images into the image search bar!

Now this is impressive. It’s like TinEye + DropBox + Googles own similar images functionality.

So I played around for a bit, and it turns out it’s even smarter than that! I dragged an image of me playing a gig into the search box, and it identified my bass!

Picture 11 Google Image Search searches by image!
It recognised that:

  1. I was playing an instrument
  2. It is a bass
  3. It is a Musicman Stingray

Google scares me sometimes.

WordPress 3.1 is released

- February 24th, 2011

WordPress 3.1 has been released and is namedReinhardt after legendary jazz guitarist DjangoReinhardt. Some of the notable new features include:

  1. New Site Admin bar – a new admin bar has been added to the logged in live view, enabling quick editing of posts / pages
  2. Post formats – now able to tag post format and subsequently displayindividualpost formats eg. gallery post, aside, features
  3. Multi-taxonimy queries – essentially an improved searching mechanism, more power to developers 🙂
  4. Network Admin User – superseeds multi-site WordPress “Super Admin” user
  5. In-site post linking – adds the facility to search and add links for internal blog posts / pages – big UI win!

This update certainly moves WordPress on from a simple blogging engine to a fully fledged CMS. Go download the latest update NOW! In honour of the release here’s Django at his best:

0 Wordpress 3.1 is released

Who’s actually using RDFa?

Jess Henderson - February 21st, 2011

A year ago we were very excited about RDFa, and in particular about using it to mark up consultations in our Citizen Space software. By providing certain bits of metadata in a machine-readable format (for example the consultation’s title, start and end dates, target audience, author etc) the consultation record can be used by third-party systems, and potentially incorporated into applications that hadn’t even been envisaged when the data was originally published.

RDFa actually became a mandatory requirement for all central government consultations published after 1st January 2010, but in the past year we have seen very little use of this new wealth of freely available data. There were rumours that Directgov planned to use it to import consultations, but I can’t find any evidence of this on their site.

We were sad that we’d gone to all the trouble* to incorporate RDFa into our clients’ consultations, and nobody was making use of it, so we decided to do something with it ourselves. We’ve made an Aggregator that can collect together consultations from any website as long as it publishes its consultations in an RSS feed and includes the appropriate RDFa markup. It also publishes its own RSS feed so that the aggregated consultations can be fed into a further tier of applications.

We’d be really interested to hear of other apps that are making use of RSS and RDFa in relation to consultation data. Surely we’re not the only ones?

*actually it wasn’t much trouble at all thanks to the helpful guidelines from the COI.