Lab Notes

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    Westfield Corporation has always been at the forefront of rethinking the retail space – in fact, that’s how Westfield Labs was born! Since establishing Westfield Labs two years ago with the sole purpose of innovating the retail ecosystem, Westfield has continued to explore the convergence of physical and digital, especially as relates to building new fully immersive and highly interactive experiences in our centers. It’s from this foundation that Westfield Corp and Labs came up with BESPOKE at Westfield San Francisco Centre. BESPOKE is a place that provides coworking, event and technology demo spaces all under one roof (well, under one Dome actually) in the center of downtown where the quintessential tech marketplace of San Francisco brushes against the retail district.

    On the week of our 2nd anniversary, we’re excited to introduce BESPOKE!

    Bespoke_Demo

    With an eye for retail, and a heart for tech, we wanted to create a place where fashion runway shows and hackathons could happen side by side. We designed a beautiful event space fully customizable to the huge range of events that are quintessentially San Francisco. To open doors for unexpected synergies and collaborations, experimentation and integration, we’ll have a completely fresh coworking space right across the hall. Keeping in mind the great inspiration our own Westfield Labs team has found working inside the mall with customers right outside our door, we knew that building a coworking space inside the iconic Westfield San Francisco Centre created a unique offering that does not yet exist. Not to mention that Westfield San Francisco Centre is home to more than 20 million annual visitors and a built-in network of more than 200 established retailers and restaurants. We also wanted to give our visitors a chance to get in on the fun, so we incorporated a tech demo space where you can see, feel, and experience first-hand the true tech culture of San Francisco. In this space, we envision showcasing and demonstrating some of the hottest new technologies before anyone else can get their hands on it.

    Bespoke_Coworking2

    State-of-the-art technology, carefully thought out design elements, and the excellence and class you’ve come to expect from Westfield will make BESPOKE a new and unique place, and we’re very excited to be introducing the plans! This new ecosystem, where the San Francisco community can work, create, refine, showcase, entertain, play and sell all under one roof – is set to open in Spring 2015 and we’ll be sure to share more details as the spaces come to fruition! In the meantime, check out bespoke.westfield.com, and stay tuned to twitter.com/bespoke_sf for more details and drop us a line if you’re interested in learning how you can get involved.

     

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    This post will try and outline our (Westfield Labs Engineering) general philosophy toward product development. The focus on Ownership and Quality is paramount – all other items flow from this. The following are merely guidelines and principles: you may feel the need to change or bend these rules, that’s fine, that’s part of ownership and responsibility.

     

    Ownership

    You will often hear people ask ‘who owns this?’. While to the outside world a team or department may own something, internally each component needs to have a single individual ultimately responsible for it. This doesn’t mean you have dictatorial control or don’t need to listen to others opinions but it means that person is ultimately responsible for the quality, maintainability and stability of a component.

    If you own a component it doesn’t mean you have to check every line of code that’s merged but you have to be satisfied that you trust the person merging code. If their work is not of a sufficient standard you are ultimately responsible for it.

    If you ‘own’ a component but feel you don’t have sufficient time and resources available to perform this task effectively, you must raise that issue – at Stand Up or at Retro or with your manager or Team Lead.
    Component owners should be known.

    If you have been given a problem to solve, follow it through. You own the problem, not just code. If you are blocked by someone else confirm with them explicitly that they now own the problem and let necessary stakeholders know.

     

    Delivery

    Nothing is considered ‘done’ until it is in production.

    Work in small increments delivered through to production.

    DO NOT BATCH. See above, if there is unreleased code in Master speak to the owner of that code, try and get that pushed through before you merge.

    Spike if uncertain.

    Work on one component at a time – only release code that has all dependencies already working in production.

    Upon release, monitor production logs to ensure Release was successful and no regressions occurred.

     

    Know the business

    Understand and question requirements. If something doesn’t seem right, query it. If you know a better way, suggest it.

    Remember you are focused on solving problems, not performing tasks.

    Know what value you are creating.

     

    Continuous Improvement

    Our philosophy is to continuously improve and refine our products but also the process: scoping, solving, delivering.

    Call a retro if you think we need one.

    All retro issues must have an action. If it can’t be solved within the team, then the action must be on the Scrum Master or Team Lead to raise the issue outside the team.

    Sometimes we have to accept there are constraints or obstacles that cannot be removed immediately. Plan to route around these obstacles in the short-term while working on removing them over the longer-term.

     

    Quality

    Everyone in the team is responsible for quality.

    Testing is used to add value, you can over-test just like you can under-test. It’s your judgment call.
    Engineers share responsibility for quality along with the rest of the team. Engineers are responsible for the functional testing of their own code.

    Ask for help if necessary but ultimately you, as an engineer, are responsible for the functional quality and stability of that code.

    Automated testing is still expensive – to write, to maintain and to run. Consider this when you write tests.
    Consider impact to business when writing tests – obviously we require a greater level of test automation for a Credit Card payment form than we do for a static brochure page.

    Let the tests guide your implementation. If you cannot test logic at the unit or service level you probably need to refactor.

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    Hello!  I’m Thiago Figueiró, VP of Engineering and Production Operations for Westfield Labs.  We’ve been working quietly in the back for a while now and I’ve decided it’s time we poke our head out.

    I have asked everyone in the Engineering team to start contributing to the Labs blog but I figured I should go first and, while at it, explain my ulterior motive for asking the team to take time from delivering and maintaining products in order to blog.

    Let me get started by sharing pictures of the beautiful cities where our Engineering teams are located: San Francisco and Sydney.

    Sunset over the San Francisco bay

    Sunset over the San Francisco bay (photo credit)

    Sunrise at The Rocks, Sydney

    Sunrise at The Rocks, Sydney (photo credit)

    Distributed teams

    As the team in San Francisco wraps-up the day, our people in Sydney begin theirs, allowing us to deliver morsels of business value almost on a 24×7 basis.

    Westfield Labs Hack Day 2014 team

    Labs teams from Sydney and San Francisco get together for a hack day

    Westfield Labs has a geographically distributed team and we have to put extra effort in communications to make-up for this fact. We take every opportunity we can to travel and spend time together. To complement that we have Beam devices in our offices, we hang-out all the time on hipchat and we have video conferencing capabilities in every meeting room.

    I expect the Labs blog to also take part in complementing our communication efforts. I want us to share lessons learned with our colleagues, remote and local, and showcase the work that we are proud to deliver.

    Open source community

    A lot of the products and services we build relies on open-source software and I want us to show gratitude by reciprocating.  Our engineers have been contributing to many different projects for a while and I believe it is time we invest in making some of our software and solutions available to the public.

    Open beats closed

    Open beats closed

    Open-source software produced by Westfield Labs is available on github and the blog will serve as a space where our team can talk about it, make it reach the right audience.

    Our team solves difficult problems on a global scale and I’d like us to share our experience with the community.  From something as specific as a bug work-around to high-level strategy, if we can share information that helps others I want us to do that.

    The world’s oldest start-up

    When people hear the name Westfield they don’t think of technology – they think of our shopping centres.  Over more than 50 years Westfield has had a culture of innovation and Westfield Labs is a recent reflection of that.

    In the words our our co-founder and chairman, Frank Lowy: “Evolution and change are the words for shopping centre success.”

    beam devices in use

    Two engineers from Sydney use Beams to attend a sprint retro in San Francisco

     

    So as the Westfield Labs Engineering team takes part on the evolution of the retail ecosystem and every company becomes, to a degree, a technology company, the Engineering posts are our small contribution to show that we’re about much more than concrete and girders.  We’re part of Westfield Labs, the world’s oldest start-up.

    Serendipity

    As it happens, today is my birthday so I get to share my favourite beers from California and South Australia.  If I were still living in Sydney, I would celebrate by drinking a Coopers Pale Ale but since I’m in San Francisco I’ll be having a Lagunitas IPA.  Saúde!

  • Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 10.44.13 AM

    Hopefully by now you’ve already found many reasons to try Dine on Time to order food from one of the excellent eateries at Westfield San Francisco Centre. But just in case you haven’t, we’re giving you one more amazing reason to give it a try (in addition to the convenience, speed and quality food already offered!) – a chance to win an exclusive lesson in Chinese cooking from celebrity chef Martin Yan followed by dinner for six at his restaurant M.Y. China prepared by Martin Yan himself! By simply ordering through Dine on Time using your iPhone, mobile web or the Dine on Time website, you will automatically be entered to win. As a bonus, if you order from M.Y. China using Westfield Dine on Time, you will receive two entries per order. Best of all, there are no limits on the number of orders you can submit, all of which qualify you for a chance to cook and dine with an international culinary icon.

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    The sweepstakes runs now through Monday, October 6, 2014, so order while you can! And don’t forget to check out Martin’s new show, Taste of Vietnam, set to debut on KQED later this fall.

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    SXSW 2015 may not be until March next year, but voting for SXSW panels just began yesterday! We’ve submitted a panel on how startups and big brands can not only happily co-exist, but must work together to create partnerships to drive the future of retail and ensure meaningful brand engagement. Titled Startups + Big Brands = Happily Ever After, our own Kevin McKenzie would be joined on a panel by our friends at Deliv, BrandGarage and General Growth Properties to discuss how they have developed these partnerships and their key learnings.

    Public voting begins now until Friday, September 5 and we need your support! To vote, begin by registering here. Then, vote for our panel by giving a thumbs up. After you vote, don’t forget to share! Each registered voter can vote once, so tell your friends to vote if you’d like to see this panel at next year’s SXSW.

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    Last week, our friends at Westfield SFC participated in the annual Eat Drink SF Food Festival in Fort Mason. Spanning three days from Friday, August 1st to Sunday, August 3rd, the Westfield booth featured chefs and menu items from the Restaurant Collection Under the Dome, including Cupola Pizzeria, La Boulange, Lark Creek Steak, Straits, the soon-to-be-opening Tap (415) and M.Y. China. Celebrity Chef Martin Yan of M.Y. China was also on hand Friday to sample his Westfield Dine on Time Secret Menu Item, Lamb Shumai. Visitors to the Westfield booth who showed they had downloaded the Westfield Dine on Time app or loaded the Dine on Time mobile website also received a Westfield tumbler!

    EAT DRINK SF

  • cnbc_labs_HEADER

    CNBC Visits Westfield Labs to answer the question: What is the Future of Retail?

    Last week, we welcomed Courtney Reagan and the CNBC crew to our Westfield Labs headquarters. As part of their 25th anniversary, CNBC looked into the future of shopping and what the mall of the future would look like. Our fearless leader Kevin McKenzie was interviewed by Courtney Reagan, and our digital storefronts in both Westfield San Francisco Centre and Westfield Garden State Plaza were also featured! See photos from last week’s shoot below, and watch the full segment on CNBC.

    cnbc visits Westfield Labs

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    In today’s edition of Behind the Scenes we meet our first female guest, Courtney Lapin, senior manager of retail partnerships. Her career path has taken her from the fashion world, to the startup world, and now to Westfield Labs somewhere perfectly in-between the two, and while she never imagined this is where she would wind up, she couldn’t love her Westfield Labs family more!

    Courtney Lapin

    How did you find yourself working at Westfield Labs?
    I started my career working in the fashion industry in NYC – and I LOVED it. A few years ago, my then boyfriend, and now husband, got a job in San Francisco and I found myself relocating from the fashion capital of the country to the tech capital of the country – and I did not love it. I started working at a startup called CoffeeTable, which was a mobile app that allowed people to shop from catalogs as if they were on brand’s websites (something pretty revolutionary at the time,) which was my first taste of the e-commerce world, and despite my aversion to the tech world, I really loved my job and loved the idea of using technology to shop. I realized that technology is vital to retail because retail is changing. I was put in touch with Westfield Labs right as they were getting started about a year and half ago, and the rest is history!

    What do you love about being a part of Westfield Labs?
    My favorite thing about my job is the people I work with. I have never worked somewhere where the camaraderie and culture is so warm, welcoming and jovial! We eat a family-style lunch together once a week, and when people are finished eating and start to get up, I say, “No! Sit back down!” We just have such a good time together. It’s been really cool to see the company grow too. When I started there were only 35 of us and now we’re close to double that and still growing!

    What would we find you doing at 10 a.m. on a typical work day?

    Probably instilling some words of wisdom on my next-cube-neighbor Arthur. I never thought that I would be the one with some experience under my belt giving guidance to my less-seasoned co-workers and letting them know that everything WILL be alright!

    Aside from that, you’ll likely find me meeting with retailers or working with our Westfield Labs product teams. My role is really to serve as a liaison between the teams internally and the retailers who operate in our Westfield shopping centers. My main focus is trying to identify the best ways to implement our products into the existing business operations of our retail partners and in doing so, help them progress with us into the digital age of shopping and commerce. For our most recent launch of Westfield Dine on Time, I worked closely with all the food retailers in our San Francisco Centre to help implement on-demand ordering, pick-up and delivery. It was really rewarding to see our partners be able to improve their businesses and their consumer understandings through the use of our product.

    What are your insider recommendations on where to go in the mall?
    Burke Williams spa is amazing for any kind of pampering! Everyone should pamper themselves once in a while. The fact that it’s right across the hall from us doesn’t hurt either. I also love Pressed Juicery downstairs in the mall. I’m having a baby this October so I’m being extra conscious about getting all the right nutrients and they are a great one-stop shop on days when I don’t get all my fruits and vegetables in my meals.

    Last questions, is it a boy or a girl?

    It’s a boy!!

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    We are very proud to announce that our fearless leader, Kevin McKenzie, was honored this past week with a Retail Innovator Award from Retail TouchPoints. Recognizing retail executives who are driving change through innovation in order to improve their business and the entire retail industry, Kevin and the Westfield Labs team received the award for work on recent retail innovations such as the Digital Storefronts at Garden State Plaza in New Jersey and Westfield San Francisco Centre, same-day delivery services at Century City in Los Angeles, and searchable mall in Australia.

    Kevin was among excellent company, with awards being given to executives from Warby Parker, Crate & Barrel, Sephora and Best Buy among others! Check out the other winners and learn more about the innovative strategies they implemented in 2014 here.

    A big congratulations to all the winners and cheers to even more innovation in the year ahead!

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    On Thursday 29th May, we held the 2nd Annual Hack Day: 36 hours for the digital team to work on ANYTHING they’d like to.  This year we added Gift Card prizes for the Best Hack idea and the best T-Shirt Design.

    The Hack Day is an opportunity to get those creative and innovative juices flowing and a chance for the team to tackle all the digital challenges that might not be a “right now” priority for the business. For some it was the chance to work on something that they normally wouldn’t, allowing them to step into different shoes for the day. Most of all, it allows the team to connect with our passion for collaboration and seeing brilliant ideas come to life.

    Westfield Hack Day 2014 team

    Labs teams from Australia and United States got together at the Westfield Sydney office

    After 36 hours of hard work, teams presented some unbelievable ideas and prototypes including an interactive tennis game using an iPhone.  Other ideas included a Bookable Change Room, 3-D Centre Maps, Yelp Reviews on www.westfield.com.au and a Live Chat Concierge … the list went on. All hackers proudly wore their t-shirts with the winning design by Dan Sim.

    Mitch Simpson’s Hack Day idea was to create a video about the Hack Day – how meta!  It does a great job capturing the mood and atmosphere during the competition.

    There could be only one Best Hack winner and that went to the ‘Live Map Way Finding’ idea by Alec Raeside & Justin Lambert. We hope to see it in production in the near future!

    Hack Day winners

    Justin Lambert and Alex Raeside took home the prize with their idea: Live Map Way Finding