Stac Blog

September 27th, 2016 by Josh

Stac supports Leeds charity CATCH

Sponsored CATCH T-Shirts

We've been massive fans of the work CATCH Leeds have been doing ever since they won funding at a Leeds SOUP event earlier this year, so when they got in touch asking for help we jumped at the chance.

CATCH (Community Action To Change Harehills) is a charity made up of passionate individuals who live and work in Harehills. CATCH was established in January 2011 to initially manage and develop The Hovingham Project (focusing on the development of a large disused piece of wasteland into a sports and recreational space); however since then it has grown to support and develop many other community initiatives.

Ash Razzaq from CATCH turned to us for sponsorship to support the launch event, which took place on 15th September, at the newly refurbished premises and we were more than happy to oblige. We're huge believers in community efforts such as CATCH, and it's great to see the project go from strength to strength.

If you want to find out more about CATCH and the Ark community centre you can do so on their Facebook page.

December 8th, 2015 by Josh

The return of Leeds Digital Festival

Last Tuesday we attended an informal gathering upstairs at The Belgrave, for anyone who wanted to play a part in the planning of Leeds Digital Festival (LDF) 2016. ​

LDF aims to partner with Live at Leeds between 25th - 30th April 2016 to promote everything digital. Partnering with Live at Leeds will help promote technology in Leeds further by combining music and art with digital. ​

The open nature of the meet-up was reflected in the attendees; like-minded people who came together to discuss how we can demonstrate the digital expertise that Leeds has. Backed by a core steering committee, the festival will host a wide array of events across the city.

Here at Stac, LDF instantly caught our attention as we’re already involved with events in the technology sector in Leeds so we were keen to find out how we could contribute to the bigger picture. ​

After an hour or two of discussion hosted by Stuart Clarke, the evening broke into a social where everyone got the chance to network. It’s times like these when you realise how vibrant the digital community in Leeds really is. Running Hey! means we usually network with a lot of event organisers and businesses, but it was great to meet plenty of new faces (to us at least) who were interested in promoting Leeds’ digital culture.

We’re excited about the possibilities of what LDF can bring to (and export from) Leeds. If you’d like to find out more about the LDF, get in touch with Stuart or Josh. There’s already an active Trello board which we’re using to help plot out the different events and that allows businesses to let us know the services they can contribute. We hope that these things will combine to be a fantastic demonstration of what the city has to offer.

Alternatively you can check out @LeedsDigiFest16 on Twitter or

November 4th, 2015 by Josh

Case Study: Sky

Early in 2015 Sky made a commitment towards expanding its technology hub to the North. With this expansion came a new set of challenges regarding resourcing and training a dedicated team in the area.

We were approached by Sky to help draw up and deliver a bootcamp for Ruby developers during their initial recruitment drive. This involved authoring a set of materials and workshops that could be open sourced and built upon by their developers. We were also tasked with assisting new waves of developers joining the company in getting up to speed with Sky's architecture and processes.

Sky enlisted our help due to such rapid growth in Leeds and wanting to respond quickly and efficiently to on-boarding developers. With our experience of the best development practices — and more specifically Ruby — we were a good fit.

The initial bootcamps were held between June and September, 2015.

Sky Bootcamp on GitHub


The bootcamp’s curriculum followed this loose outline:

  • Exercises: Introductory tasks such as opening up an interactive Ruby shell and object oriented programming
  • Workshops: Face-to-face workshops with candidates, highlighting different features and patterns found in common Ruby applications
  • Final Project: An end of course project allowing candidates to put their learnings into practice within the context of a real world application
  • Handover: Migrating the candidate from the bootcamp into a production squad. Sky use a similar engineering culture to Spotify

However, this framework was in place more as a point of reference than a strict linear path. We found a more informal course to be more inviting and intuitive to candidates who already knew how they approached learning and problem solving.


Exercises were mostly unattended to allow time and mental space for candidates to discover a learning style that worked for them. Following each exercise they were also encouraged to request feedback and code reviews. We used industry standard tools such as GitHub to monitor and review candidates' progress. Forking from the main sky-uk/ruby-bootcamp repository allowed us to see work in progress, as well as providing a platform for us to review work in Pull Requests.

Workshops were more involved with us gathering candidates together for either live coding sessions or talks. These were always informal to encourage group discussion, and we found these to be the most effective tools for teaching candidates the "Ruby way" of doing things.

The final project was another useful tool for evaluating the sum knowledge from all exercises and workshops within the bootcamp. We found this to be a great talking point amongst candidates as well as a useful way to gauge who would work well in squads together.

DSL workshop on GitHub


We're incredibly proud of the work we did with Sky, and enjoyed helping them with their expansion to Leeds. We're excited about what it will do for the future of technology in the North.

The feedback we received from candidates was well balanced and positive, with Stac being praised for our support and expertise in teaching Ruby to newcomers and experienced developers in the language.

If you'd like to take advantage of the learning materials produced during this project, it's being actively developed over on GitHub.