Homeflow now offers larger clients an additional layer of control for their website platform; direct access to work on their front end theme code themselves.
Within agreed limits for support hours Homeflow’s front end development team will support your team, answering questions and providing coding examples for your developers.
You need to be aware that with enterprise level access, it is very easy to break the front end of your website (it is impossible to disrupt the underlying platform / core code base as this is protected, so potential risk is contained to front-end pages on your website only). Homeflow can always recover you from backups, and we are on hand to assist or fix any issues we create, however clients need to be mindful of the risks and responsibilities when coding direct, and need to be aware that they might incur extra charges if we need to assist in recovering a site from a serious issue introduced via developer access. Accordingly, before we can grant an Enterprise Access Licence to a client, we will need to speak with your developers and be satisfied that they are competent and adequately resourced to be able to operate directly on the platform without putting excess load on our team. However, with those warnings lodged, come on in, the water’s fine, enjoy!
Specific for Enterprise Access
Separate Front End Theme copy
If you are operating on a front end theme used for other estate agents, then we will create you a separated copy of that theme, so that you are completely free to deviate and make your own edits at will. This theme becomes your own, separated IP. If you begin from a bespoke website in the first instance, we will create a clone of that bespoke theme, so that we can restore you to the initial theme at any point. Subsequent theme edits are backed up in our code repository (and you would be wise to make your own timely back ups too), however they are more expensive to recover to if you need us to assist.
Own repository access
Next we will create you your own Gitlab repository copy of all the front end files. Gitlab is simply a hosted version of Github. You can use your own version control software if you like, however you will need to make check ins via Gitlab in order for them to push out our production servers.
Ability to push own code to staging
We have built a system of “after commit hooks” so that as you push code to your repository, we will automatically run these files up onto staging and development environments. You have no requirement to worry about hosting, databases, image servers, property search, supporting APIs etc., all of that is taken care of in the background for you. You simply push your front end code, and we upload it to your website. There is a circa 10 second delay between pushes and full deployment, you need to be aware of this, and might find that very short cycle development is impinged by this (most developers work locally for minor HTML changes, etc. as a result).
Clone set up
In addition to the regular Dev > Staging > Production versions of your website code base which we run as standard; as part of the Enterprise Licence, we will also create you an entire clone website stack. Think of this as if it is an entire copy of your agency, running under a different name, and blocked from search engines. Though there is a production version of this site, we don’t encourage pushing code to it. Instead we have this clone set up, as a “playground”. You can test deeper refactors/ reworks of your website in a safe, isolated environment, which completely mirrors from a code and functionality perspective*, your main website environment.
*Important caveat: Please note, the clone site will have a copy of your property data, branding, imagery and all content, but that data is FROZEN at birth. It does NOT update with articles you add, or new properties from your software feeds etc. We can periodically respawn the clone, to bring it in line with the production data, however you should consider the clone site and environment a testing ground for developers, rather than a content preparation area, or something you can show to staff expecting it to reflect all the content on the main site – as that is not it’s purpose.
Unlimited production push requests
You can request as many pushes of your code up to the production environment as you like. We try not to encourage pushes to production more than weekly (as this simply adds risk to your development cycles). However, you aren’t limited by this if you need to push out further tweaks or enhancements more quickly. We will act on these within 1 working day and during working hours. (Typically we are much faster than this, but this is the minimum standard).
We do not allow direct control to push your changes to production. The reason for this is that experience has shown this is simply too risky. Whilst we don’t check/ test all of your front end code (that freedom/ flexibility being the point of direct access), we will likely cast our eyes over the check ins for a quick sanity check. And we will also do a sanity check for any potential risks introduced in the way your front end code calls the underlying platform.
3 hours developer support
All of the platform code is documented, and typically front-end developers work on our platform completely unassisted. However, inevitably, if you are working on the platform for the first time, you may have questions you would like to clarify; or you may lean on us to ask for advice on how to build something as efficiently as possible. We are on hand to answer any queries. We can of course also write code for you (though this drops back to being just like regular front-end development for you, except with the additional complexity of bringing your developers along for the ride, and incurs normal bespoke development charging processes as a result).
In order to protect this balance of being available to answer questions, but not get drawn into endless development/ developer support, we set a limit on developer support of 3 hours per client, per month. In practice we act quite flexibly on this, however it is there to protect us from uncapped support costs. We will keep a log of development support time, and will notify you in advance if it looks like you are exceeding the included support time.
Please do contact us using the form below.