Speaking Your Language

The business users' blog about document generation and all things reporting software

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Speaking Your Language - The business users' blog about document generation and all things reporting software

From Windward Reports to Windward – Enterprise Reporting Software and Beyond

Companies evolve.

Take Xerox, which was around for almost 50 years before introducing the machine that became synonymous with its manufacturer.

Grinding wheels -- predecessor to the Post-it note? (Thanks to Solaris2006 of Wikimedia Commons for this cool photo.)

Or a company now famous for Post-it notes and Scotch Tape that started out selling…

Any guesses?

…a mineral for making grinding wheels.

We’re evolving, too. Windward began as a game software company (the creators of Enemy Nations), but after a twist of fate – if a cancer diagnosis can be called something as innocuous as a twist – we turned our efforts to developing enterprise reporting software. And that’s where we’ve been for nearly a decade.

But we’re now at another stage in our evolution. Lately, along with reporting, we’ve been creating software for other data insight and analysis solutions, like document generation, ad hoc business intelligence and web-based reporting.

Aloha, Windward Reports. Aloha, Windward.

Our name is changing to reflect that. Instead of Windward Reports, we’re now Windward. Our original name, Windward Studios, is being resurrected for special projects.

And with the name change comes a new website with a new look, layout and focus. We invite you to check it out. And as always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

 

Are Software Engineers or Marketers More Creative?

As someone in marketing,  I am expected to be creative. Creative in the way that those in advertising are creative. Colors, sizes, shapes and layout should matter very much. But to me numbers, words and context matter more, and then colors, sizes, shapes and layout come into play.

I’ve been content with this, and have never given much thought to the role that creativity plays in the field of computer science or software programming until pipe cleaners showed up at our company meeting recently. Long, brightly colored pipe cleaners.

Windward's Reporting Software Engineers are Creative

Big deal right? Actually it was, to me. It was primarily the genius and creative prowess of our programmers (our CTO and our development team) that so nimbly made the straight wires into clever shapes.

 

 

I wanted to sort them by color but someone else in marketing beat me to it.

Taking letters and numbers and converting them into code that  in turn means a particular keystroke can do this or that, by default, means you are creative.

My pipe cleaner display

Also, taking a series of words, and putting it in a particular place within a channel of activity, that in turn means a mouse click translates into interest, is also creative.

 

That’s what’s cool about reporting  software. You have a lot of important code going in from the programmers so that   marketers and others can in turn use it to creatively display data in such a way that a message is communicated, creatively of course!

Harvey Mudd awarded site of next Code Wars competition

Let the games begin! Cue the music here

Okay, so it’s not anywhere as prestigious as the Olympics, but we’re still excited to let you know the third Windward Code War competition will take place January 2012 at Harvey Mudd College.

Gold medal it ain't.

A Windward Code War is where programmers – typically students, although the first Code War took place here at our company – program.

And they do it pretty much just for the love of programming. No pay, no college credit, no course requirements met. The only reward is some bragging rights and a cheesy trophy.

Here’s how it works. At the appointed hour, each team receives a programming problem. They have 8 hours to write the computer player for a previously undisclosed computer game. When the final bell rings, the game runs with all their computer players trying to beat the other players. A winner is declared when a team’s player wins twice.

The first Code War was a computer version of the warship board game Broadside that challenged teams to write an A.I. component for it. This created a level playing field – no one at Windward has any experience writing a computer A.I. – and generated a problem that cannot be solved by brute force. (Hats off to Team Hsu for a stunning victory over Team Light.)

The second Code War took place at the University of Colorado. Instead of frigates and warships, the game was based on RoboRally. Computer science students created robots to maneuver through a factory that assuredly does not meet OSHA standards.

Check out the doughnut-fueled intensity:

So now we’re on to Harvey Mudd. Our CTO says Code Wars is a way to give back to the community – he donates about a week of his time creating and administering the game – but really… we know it’s a way for him to play at work and get credit for it.