Widgets Magazine

Getting AV Control More Like IT Coding

One of the challenges I have faced since taking over Innovad is what I will call the “Silo Effect”. Innovad is the independent programming house I am director of operations for. As such, it is my job to manage the programmers, graphic artists, and all to try and make the company profitable. The “Silo Effect” is where you have a project and assign it to a single programmer. That person takes the project, works through the process and gets the program completed. If there are any issues with installing it there is one person who handles the support, either onsite or remotely. There is no inherent problem with this work flow. Most AV programmers work in this fashion.
The computer world does not, for the most part. They will take large projects, split them up into different sections, work on them separately, and then bring the code together. It is more efficient and allows companies and teams to tackle large projects together. They use a variety of methods to keep the code coherent and working toward the goal. Sites like GitHub-*is a good place to start if you are interested. To accomplish this in the AV world there are a few changes you would need to make.
Standardizing Nomenclature
Standards tends to be a scary or dirty word in AV. In the world of computer programming it is how they simply get stuff done. They use an agreed up set of commands, call outs, and naming that makes sense to them and their teammates. Without this standard programmer A would be writing something that Programmer B would have no idea what they were saying. It also allows the training of newer programmers into your system. It does take a bit of the artistry some AV programmers feel they have in creating code. However, it allows others to come behind them and read what they have done without the use of a translation dictionary.
Modularization
I’m not sure if that’s a word. In fact, spell-check doesn’t think it is. What I mean by it is the idea that each section of the code project is broken up into easily digestible, and code-able, chunks. This gives the project manager and programming team the ability to split tasks up. If you do it right, it also lends itself to greater flexibility in modifying the code if you need to go back and change the system.
One of the pain points for a number of integrators is the time and expense in getting good, quality code. If programmers could look beyond themselves and work together in teams it would bring down the time aspect of that pain. It would allow even small teams to produce control and DSP code in a shorter amount of time. You will need one lead programmer who understands the project very well and can also put the disparate parts together. This is a job for your master level and ACE programmers. If we, as an industry and as a segment of the industry, can make this a standard practice I think we could create more value to our clients and be seen as a valuable resource rather than a pain or necessary evil.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.
 

About Author

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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