Serving Canadian small businesses since 2001.

About Us

Philosophy

We love technology.

We endeavor to use all relevant technology ourselves so that we can speak from first-hand experience.

Our mission has remained unchanged since we opened for business in 2001:

    • to become the client’s advisor of choice by pro-actively understanding their business and anticipating their needs
    • to recommend low-risk, unbiased solutions, well understood by the client, which clearly benefit their business
    • to successfully implement the chosen solution with quality service, exceeding the client’s expectations wherever possible

We truly enjoy watching our clients benefit from the use of technology. Just as a carpenter might derive their greatest joy from seeing a bench that they made years ago, worn with constant use and appreciation, we love to see our web applications still being used and appreciated after years of constant use.

Here are some early projects that we built that have continued to be in constant use since we created them:

    • In the summer of 2002 we created an online stock market simulation for Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta (JASA). Every semester since then JASA has used the simulation as a part of their investment strategies program with junior high school students. There are now three Junior Achievement charters using the simulation and we average about 30,000 trades per semester.
    • In early 2003 we developed a time tracking system to use internally for tracking and billing time to our customers. We now re-sell this application and there are currently 5 companies not including ourselves that track all of their time using it. Since it started it has averaged about 40,000 time entries per year, or about 160 time entries per day, or 1 time entry every 3 minutes (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) since February 2003.
    • In 2003 we also created a sales database application for two of our wine agency clients. One client currently has over 23 million records in the database. In the last year, their server (which has ran non-stop) processed over 34,000 queries.
    • In 2002 we created the Calgary Real Estate board member web site. Since then, they have continued to use most of the modules including the Realtor online store and to the best of our knowledge all of their online course registrations are still processed through the software we built.

These are only a few examples of the first applications we designed and created. Most of the newer ones promise to have rich and busy histories as well.

To view a larger list of the projects we have completed, see the portfolio section.

Methodology

Here is how we ensure that your web site project will succeed:

    • hire the best web programmers we can find and treat them well
    • use an “iterative” approach to developing software
    • use well documented code guidelines for clear, consistent, re-usable code
    • use a well documented, backed-up source version control system (Subversion)
    • use a standard software development project plan
    • maintain and use standard libraries of code to speed development
    • integrate open source solutions when applicable (don’t reinvent the wheel)
    • use existing, well behaved libraries when possible (PEAR, FPDF, etc.)

Hiring

The most important part of any business is the people. It also seems to be the most difficult part. After 5 years of hiring, firing, and laying off staff we have developed a good hiring process. In reality however, it doesn’t seem to matter. After using three different staffing agencies and spending a lot of time ourselves, we have found that it is still almost impossible to consistently hire the best people. You just can’t tell how good someone is (and how good a fit) until they have been working for at least a month.

Consequently, we don’t have a large staff, but every one of them is exceptional. They each love what they are doing. We go out of our way to treat our employees with respect and to make sure that they have an excellent working environment.

Iterative Programming

Software development projects are one of the most difficult projects to manage. We all know that one of the best ways to approach a large project is to break it down in to small pieces and focus on each step in turn. In addition to this, it is best to start simple and then add complexity as needed.

This concept is one of the core focuses of extreme programming. Although we don’t formally practice extreme programming, we do subscribe to many of the same ideas.

Code Guidelines

As a customer, or web site user, you will likely never see what the code (that makes up your website or web application) looks like. For the most part it will not affect the performance or effectiveness of your web site; however, it makes a big difference when it comes to making changes or when someone else has to work on the site.

Most web designers and programmers do not follow standard coding guidelines. At Claero Systems we have clearly documented guidelines for scripting and markup languages so that all of our code is consistently formatted and clearly readable regardless of who works on your project.

In addition to this, we also have a standard in-line documentation notation for our code. It is identical to the standard Javadoc style comments.

Source Control

Source control is a standard method of keeping track of changes to software, as well as managing changes being made by multiple programmers. A source control system helps manage the changes and different versions of your software. Although the use of a source control system is standard procedure for standalone software development, many web application developers still don’t use a source control system.

Claero has a redundant source control system that our programmers use on a daily basis to ensure that all changes are tracked and conflicts are managed systematically. We use an open source product called Subversion.

Standard Libraries

At Claero Systems we have a set of standard libraries that we have developed and revised throughout the years. These libraries allow our programmers to quickly implement standard features within your application without having to rewrite them each time. Not only does it speed up development time, but it also allows for more consistency across our client’s applications. This means that once our programmers become familiar with the libraries, they can easily understand and work on any of our projects.

Open Source

There is nothing worse than reinventing the wheel. At Claero we always look for a software package that has already been written to solve your needs first. It may be commercial software or open source software.

Although not widely understood or appreciated, we believe that open source software can provide significant advantages to small and large businesses who are willing to take the time to understand how it works and why it makes so much sense.

Some web-based open source software packages that we have implemented are:

    • WordPress – is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog.  In our opinion it is the best general purpose tool for building basic business or personal websites.
    • Joomla! v1.x and v1.5 – a great web site content management system, meaning that you can update your own website using just your browser, much like you would use Microsoft Word (free for commercial use)
    • Gallery v1.5x and v2.x – in our opinion, this is the best web based photo gallery software available (free for commercial use)
    • PHP BB – a great PHP based bulletin board package (free for commercial use)
    • Docuwiki – a great PHP based wiki package, this is an amazing way to keep track of your own documentation, including company policies and procedures, checklists, knowledge base, etc. (free for commercial use)
    • Sugar CRM – a great PHP based Customer Relationship Management package

We also use many open source and shareware libraries and tools to create our web applications. These include:

    • PHP – a web scripting language
    • MySQL – a very fast relational database
    • SQLite – a very fast and small relational database
    • JQuery – jQuery is a fast, small, and feature-rich JavaScript library.
    • JQuery Mobile – jQuery Mobile is a HTML5-based user interface system designed to make responsive web sites and apps that are accessible on all smartphone, tablet and desktop devices.
    • Bootstrap – Bootstrap is the most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile first projects on the web.
    • FLOT – a great javascript graphing library for web pages
    • FPDF – a very lightweight PDF library for PHP
    • Sphider – a very nice PHP based, lightweight search engine that will search web pages, pdf files, etc.

For more information on Open Source software see the Open Source Initiative website or read about it on Wikipedia.

History

Founded in 2001 in Calgary, Alberta, Claero Systems is a thriving consulting company that helps small businesses take advantage of technology.

During our first 5 years of business we provided turn-key solutions to our clients that included management consulting, network design, web site design, tech support, and basically everything related to technology.

Since early 2006, we are focused on web sites, web application design, and senior management consulting. In our experience, web applications (web sites that are more than just brochures) provide some of the best ROI for small businesses.

In August 2009 we opened an office in Ottawa and we are expanding into the Ontario market.