Making the Most of Compose – Differential


It can be hard to visualize exactly how a new closet or shelving system would fit into your living quarters, which is why Organized Living turned to Compose customer, Differential, to build an easy-to-use 3D visualization tool. Running on MongoDB and Meteor, Differential produced something that was not only useful for Organized Living, but also gorgeous.

Gerard Sychay, Differential Product Lead, explained the situation before the project began: "Organized Living had been taking closet design orders through a bare, 2D closet design jQuery app that stored hard coded images and inventory. The original app didn't even have the latest inventory because it was too hard to update."

Differential's approach replaced the previous 2D closet design that was built in jQuery with a new 3D interactive app and even integrated it with Organized Living's back-end ERP system so that customers could visualize actual inventory. "The final product amounted to an online CAD program for designing closets" said Sychay adding that it has also "increased consumer sales and replaced the older, spreadsheet-­based dealer ordering process."

It's a project that's indicative of the types of solutions that Differential has been building for their customers since 2013.

Differential, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, was founded as part incubator, part startup, part services business, or what one of Differential's product managers, Conrad VanLandingham, refers to as a venture studio. The company's founders and many current employees have startup backgrounds, so they understand the needs of fledgling businesses and bring that spirit to projects at mid-to-large companies as well. The collection of developers, designers and storytellers at Differential "help remove barriers to growth and innovate using technology."

A preview of the 3D visualization app built by Differential

These days "everybody has a software component to their company," but not every team has the resources or the know-how to bring new applications to market. For many of their clients, Differential goes beyond typical development services to offer support and coaching that helps with a project's long-term success.

For example, Differential also works with one of America's fastest growing churches, Crossroads. Crossroads turned to Differential to help develop several projects including a new experiential learning and self-improvement platform, a spiritual journey app called Brave, and a web-based interactive "journey builder" which is now being iterated into a mobile app.

An official Meteor consulting partner, Differential uses Galaxy for app hosting and Compose MongoDB for databases. Whether working with organizations like Crossroads on Brave, Grupo Bimbo to build apps that work across platforms and will be highly accessible to managers around the world, or with Lexmark to build modern applications that reach beyond their core business, Meteor is their preferred platform. The Meteor development platform frees up their developers' time to focus on building a great experience with fewer lines of code. Meteor, of course, leverages MongoDB, and for Differential there's immense value in being able to model data in the database the same way they model data in the code.

Crossroad's Brave app and mobile experience

Differential has been using Compose since back in the early days when it was still MongoHQ. "The quality of all of our interactions with Compose is top notch. Everything from your administration console to your documentation and even to your company culture." Compose's "elastic" scaling provides much needed automation that makes it easy for their client projects to grow seamlessly.

Differential has done a lot with a small team of twenty-five professionals. By turning to technologies from Meteor and Compose, it has freed up its team's time to focus on clients' success. "We try very hard to educate and build a support network for our partners. A lot of that includes automation, so any instance where we can make this process easier for ourselves and our partners is a huge success."

For Differential, success is rooted in achieving an extremely close relationship with the companies that have turned to them for help. Selecting the right tools is part of what it means to build a great partnership with each of their clients.

"You know, there's always going to be competitors that can compete with things like SLA agreements and pricing. But at the end of the day, I think trust and what we consider mission critical service comes down to our ability to use your tools, and then the competence of your teams to make things right."

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