UrbanThings @ SwiftSummit 2016

Firsts – SwiftSummit 2016 – Uber – AirBnb

UrbanThings Head of Mobile, Mark Woollard, headed to San Francisco to discover cutting-edge solutions using the Swift Programming language. He shares the highs and lows of his experience – and how a conversation over pastries brought him face-to-face with a coding idol.



A few months ago, I was offered the chance to attend this year’s SwiftSummit in San Francisco and, after some consideration, decided that getting on for 24 hours travelling time from and back to the UK was worth the experience of joining the premier annual conference for the Swift programming language.

So, to my other firsts, as someone who lives outside London and gets around using my own car and uses train / tube / hire cycles in London I’d yet to try out Uber. I decided I should find out what it’s all about and use it for appropriate legs of the trip.

I’d also yet to use AirBnb so, in an effort to discover some of these disruptive services, booked accommodation in San Francisco with a certain ‘Trish’ via AirBnb having checked out type of accommodation, reviews, location and price.

More on these at the end, but let’s turn to the conference itself…

Continue reading “UrbanThings @ SwiftSummit 2016”

Introducing: Mark (karate sensei)

Coming from a strong iOS background at both small and large companies, I was really excited about the idea of bringing my experience to a start-up like UrbanThings.

Since joining in April I’ve been mapping out a course to update the UrbanThings codebase so we can provide a more solid and flexible foundation for the company’s future aspirations. That’s the short version, continue reading for the longer. 🙂

The first significant piece of this process was to overhaul the publicly available open source iOS SDK within the UrbanThings Transport API. The result is a simple to use modern SDK that also provides a great deal of flexibility for those who want to do more with the code – you can see more on Github.

Version 2.0 of the SDK also coincided with Bristol API Hackathon 2, I played a key role at this event and introduced a number of developers to the SDK, the day also generated some great ideas from the community and our winners for the day blogged about their experience.

Since then, I’ve been refactoring the codebase into a set of frameworks, introducing abstraction through protocols, and configuration through dependency injection. We have set up a continuous integration server, increased the code coverage of unit testing, and are bringing in a formal QA process that includes automation testing. We are also moving the iOS codebase to Swift where possible.

All of these changes will improve UrbanThings’ speed and ability to introduce new features and designs to our customers, and will allow us to have more confidence in the reliability of these updates. We have some great ideas in the pipeline and I’m really looking forward to launching these – watch this space!

It has been a bit of a whirlwind these last two months, but I’m really happy in my new role and am part of a talented team with great ideas for bringing transport information to you through mobile technology… one app at a time!

Mark’s Top 5 Ways to Unwind

• Running around the country lanes of Berkshire
• Spending time with my wife, our new baby, plus keeping an eye on the grown up children
• Teaching and practising karate
• Playing guitar
• Travelling to other countries (see above for Al-Khazneh from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)