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Implementing Graph Search with Neo4j & Building a successful agile company

  • Sep 4, 2013 · 6:30 PM
  • Virgin Wines

* * * Presentations will be starting at 6.50pm, rather than the usual 7pm as we have some more events to tell you about and a bottle of Champagne to give away! * * *


Mark Wightman: Building a successful agile company – people first, software second

When we talk about agile we often concentrate on process and technical practices, but to achieve greatness you must focus on what matters most – your people. If you can harness their energy, intellect, passion and creativity effectively then success will follow.Red Gate Software is a successful ISV based in Cambridge. We are proud to have been in the Sunday Times “Best Small Companies to Work For” list for six years in a row. We’ve also won the Special Award for Innovation in Engagement Practice and have won numerous other employer awards.

Over the last five years Red Gate have adopted and evolved agile development approaches at a team and company level with great success.

In this talk I'll share what we’ve learnt, with a focus on practical tips and techniques that you can take and away and use in your own organisations. Amongst other things I’ll show you how we build high-performing teams, how we empower them, how we encourage innovation, how we manage individuals and teams, how we drive continuous improvement at every level of the company – all with an agile mindset.

I aim to inspire you to make your staff a primary focus in your adoption of agile and give you some practical techniques you can adopt to make your workplace a great place to work.

Mark is Head of Development at Red Gate Software. He has previously worked as a developer, project manager and development manager. Mark has introduced agile and lean development practices to a number of companies and has over a decade of agile experience. In his current role, Mark is responsible for challenging Red Gate's development teams to become truly world-class and supporting them by building a culture of excellence and was delighted to see them recognised at the UK Agile Awards 2012.


Ian Robinson: Implementing Graph Search with Neo4j

In this talk I'll show how to build a Neo4j-based graph search application. I'll start with a brief introduction to the Neo4j database itself. We'll then look at how we design an expressive graph model and associated queries based on agile user stories. Finally, I'll show how to implement your data model and queries in a test-driven fashion.

Ian Robinson works on research and development for future versions of the Neo4j graph database. Joining Neo Technology as Director of Customer Success, he has worked extensively with customers to design and develop graph database solutions. He is a coauthor of 'Graph Databases' and 'REST in Practice' (both from O'Reilly) and a contributor to 'REST: From Research to Practice' (Springer) and 'Service Design Patterns' (Addison-Wesley). He blogs at and tweets at @iansrobinson.




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  • Paul G.

    Here's Chris Holden's review for the Norfolk Tech Journal:

    September 11, 2013

  • Kevin S.

    The Neo4j talk was would have been excelent. Too many questions being asked at the start...

    September 5, 2013

    • Kevin S.

      I wasn't criticizing that people were asking questions per se - that's obviously great and as you said, it helps the presenter know that the audience is listening. It also shows how much interest there was in the room and how well Ian answered all of the questions thrown at him.

      It was just disappointing not to have got to the end or at least a little further in. You're right, the solution is to have him back - I particularly like Jasons idea (the half day workshop) - although how I'll swing that with work I have no idea!

      September 5, 2013

    • Paul G.

      Yes, I am sure we can arrange a half day workshop.

      (Kevin, you could always take some holiday or we could do it at the weekend. ;-))

      2 · September 5, 2013

  • Ben

    Really enjoyed my first Nor(Dev) meetup (sadly I had to leave slightly early) but really looking forward to the next. Keep up the good work Dom & Paul! Cheers.

    1 · September 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    I'm sorry the questions didn't work for some of you. They helped keep my mind lively at the end of a tiring day, but I can completely appreciate they weren't so helpful for others.

    If you do have any questions, you can post them here, or tweet them (@iansrobinson #nordev #neo4j), or email me [masked].

    In the meantime, you can grab a copy of the presentation here:

    And there's a very simple project on GitHub illustrating the testing approach:

    Thanks for having me at NorDev. Hopefully see you again soon.

    Kind regards


    3 · September 5, 2013

  • Sky

    Given Ian's previous presentation at SyncConf, I had asked Paul to try and provision another talk by him for NorDev. Fantastically, Paul turned it around in double quick time.

    This time, with some research about Neo4J, I was more prepared to understand the concepts and the issues of implementing a graph DB, and, given my recent experiences with MongoDB, also with the NoSQL schema-less processes.

    I agree there were a lot of questions, and I think when Ian showed at the end, the slides to follow a) it was clear that the presentation was to take a very interesting turn into the more fundamental ideas we would have all loved to have heard, and b) there was a lot of slides!

    However, that said, I have sat through numerous presentations on new technologies and listened comfortably to the end. But it's not until I start practicing the technology that the real questions arise.

    September 5, 2013

    • Sky

      The first half of the slides that Ian presented are available from the Neo4J tutorials and pretty clear cut to anyone who really wants to learn this tech, and whilst the second half will be downloadable, Ian suggested they also, are rather clear. What is not often the case, is to be able to have answers to questions outside of the textbook scenario. These presentations are perfect opportunities for people to get reassurances. I personally think that's invaluable, and better for some, but not all, than just listening to material readily available.

      September 5, 2013

    • Sky

      There were extensive questions about the Master / Slave, HA of the Neo4J which were deeply insightful and critical to really believing / trusting a new DB tech (questions I wouldn't have thought to ask until much later in my experiences). I really feel that Ian's confidence in answering these questions, instilled more confidence in the audience, and perhaps greater desire to go away and use GraphDB, than if he had just talked through the slides.

      I for one, given the answers I heard to others, am more confident then ever that GraphDB's are an extremely competent technology to use.

      September 5, 2013

  • Chris Y.

    The Agile talk by Mark was unexpectedly interesting. I've heard of some these practices from books, articles and Twitter but not to much on implementation, experience of managing and outcomes. Thoroughly enjoyed and have added the book title 'Drive' to my Amazon wishlist. I was most looking forward to the Neo4j talk and I wasn't disappointed. Ian knew his stuff inside and out, as was ably demonstrated by the number of questions asked. Great to see so much interest from the audience but this turned out to be a double edged sword as gutted to not have seen Ian finished the remaining slides he prepared. This database has definitely piqued my interest into it exploring further. Any one know if there are any good data samples out there to play with like the old Northwind access DB?

    September 5, 2013

  • John B.


    September 5, 2013

  • Fraser G.

    Building an agile company. Not what I expected at all, but nonetheless very uplifting presentation. If only the rest of us worked for such an enlightened organisation !

    Neo4j. I have heard Ian before and he's a very thoughtful speaker. I was hoping to come away from this session with a lot more knowledge and the agenda looked like that was going to happen. Unfortunately a lot of time was taken up with questions on more advanced topics that will have left some of us a bit excluded. Ian only managed 2/3rds of the agenda so I personally only came away knowing only a little bit more than I started with. Pity.

    September 4, 2013

  • Paul G.

    Both speakers exceeded my expectations and engaged the audience.

    1 · September 4, 2013

  • Wayne T.

    I am so so sorry to change last minute, but work commitments have just came up. I'll see you all next time

    September 4, 2013

  • Julian F.


    August 9, 2013

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