Faculty & Academic-Support Software Team
FAST is an initiative to bring together staff developers from many departments across the University of Waterloo.
There are many pockets of local development on campus with varying levels of skill, resources, and support. By participating in FAST small teams are able to gain access to knowledge and resources of larger groups, and all participating members gain access to the shared knowledge of the team.
Without needing to establish a dedicated department, we are able to form a cost effective highly skilled campus-wide team of developers with a wide array of cross-domain expertise while maintaining the status quo in individual departments.
FAST hopes to provide the University of Waterloo even better support of our locally-developed academic and administrative tools without sacrificing the agility afforded by our traditional local development techniques.
To get in touch with the FAST group you can email the co-chairs Mirko Vucicievich & Steve Weber
Not a Development Team, but a Team of Developers
- Build a team for those without one
Many campus developers work alone or in very small teams without available mentorship or collaborators. While these developers still excel in this workspace, these things are invaluable for the improvement of self and stability of the tools we build.
FAST offers an online communication channel, as well as a full-day monthly meeting where members gather to share their work, request help, and discuss topics related to software development on campus.
By working togher more frequently, we actively improve cross-campus relationships between all development teams.
- Expand & share knowledge
Software development and deployment is a very large domain with many experts in many fields. Much like art, nobody is going to be an expert in all aspects of development.
FAST members are encouraged to actively share their knowledge & developments within their specific domains of expertise, and collaborate when possible with those less experienced in specific fields.
FAST also acts as a channel of information for those less "connected". Small teams will often miss out on important information regarding the deprecation of resources on campus, or changes to policy. This infomation is generally shared in the team chat, and often discussed at length at monthly meetings.
- Reduce duplication of effort
Local development has a history of toe-stepping and re-treading due to a general lack of communcation between development teams on campus. FAST hopes to address this by providing information on existing and active projects to all teams, as well as by building trust between campus developers to reduce "we can do it better" syndrome and focus on improving existing resources.
By working together more frequently and opening communications, many problems solved by one team (i.e. connecting to new auth methods) can be shared with all teams instead of solved several times over.
- Develop (loose) standards
While FAST is not designed to govern over the practices of local development, we hope to collaborate to establish agreeable and simple-to-follow standards to improve the ability to work on one-anothers projects.
By establishing and documenting these standards we hope to help improve the health and increase the sustainability of key locally developed projects, as well as assist new or junior developers in learning good practices on campus.
- Help eliminate single points of failure
One long-term goal of FAST is to tackle a problem endemic in local development: "What happens if the developer leaves?"
By establshing trust, building standards, and increasing the visibility of projects, we hope to make it possible for FAST to provide emergency support to important projects in the event of the primary developer's absence.