Creating connections

By Chelsea Ashmeade.

When it comes to developing and designing software for the agricultural industry, the opportunities are nearly endless. 

For the team at Square V, they’ve helped companies and businesses develop software systems to enable them to get their projects and work off the ground and, most recently, they were the developers behind Yacker App. 

Heading up the Square V team are partners Stephen van Rees and Vicki Lane, who have worked on their business since its inception in 2014. 

But where did the connection between Yacker App’s Emma Ayliffe and Heath McWhirter and Square V come from? 

It was in 2019 at the Agronomy Conference in Ballarat, when Dr Rose Roche from the CSIRO introduced Vicki to Emma and Heath. 

Vicki Lane and Stephen van Rees head the team at Square V.

At the time, Dr Roche knew Emma and Heath were looking for a software developer so helped to make the connection. 

“We later met halfway between Griffith and Bendigo at the caravan park in Tocumwal, to discuss Heath and Emma’s idea for an agriculture-focused social network and how this might operate – this was the seed that grew into the Yacker platform,” Vicki said. 

Having never built a social networking app before, it was new and exciting territory for the Square V team. 

“…it’s definitely a more cool-sounding project than many of our other more scientific projects.”

Yacker App’s original concept plan was to be focused on connecting people through voice communication, instead of typing. 

“It has evolved over time, but we thought this was an interesting idea to explore and something a bit different to what was already out there,” Vick said. 

With discussions had and planning underway, it was time to create and present a prototype to get the project underway. 

From here they would begin the build, create a wishlist and working on it stage by stage.  

“…the best way to build software is to build a bit, release it and start getting people using it and giving you feedback, and then build the next bit taking that feedback into account. Once we figured out what the version one features were, we got started on development and testing.”

A challenge for the Square V team has been the amount of iteration and testing around certain features like VOIP calling which, Vicki said, needed to be tested iPhone to iPhone, iPhone to Android, Android to iPhone and Adroid to Android. 

“Heath and Emma are great people to work with – they’re so smart and driven, and we love working with people who are switched on and excited about the work they’re doing.  The Yacker project has been great as it’s given us an excuse to head up to Griffith and learn more about irrigation farming and how that differs from dryland farming.”

With development starting in January 2020, the COVID-19 impacts would soon be felt through the Yacker App rollout. 

Plans were made to take it out to conferences, field days and events in the hope it would get people onboard and signing up. 

“…and of course in March 2020 everything shut down and things have only really just started to come back now. It’s a couple of years delayed, but I’m excited at the prospect of getting Yacker out to field days and conferences, and getting people using it and realising what a great app it is to speak with other farmers and ag community members.”

Yacker App is available to download FREE for both iPhone and Adroid users.

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