Photo by Olga Serjantu

COVID-19 crisis showed us how important the sense of community is when it comes to such critical circumstances. It is true in every aspect of life, and even in business.

In 2016, Black Pug Studio participated in the development of a project that would help French businesses in Galway and create a better sense of community between French business owners. A platform that became suddenly more relevant and noticeable with the sudden COVID-19.

In this article, we will go through the timeline of the Tour de France — Ireland Edition project, from its original idea and release to its most recent update.

The Story of Tour de France — Ireland Edition

It started back in 2016 when the Honorary French Consul in Galway, Catherine Gagneux, approached our Studio with the idea of creating a platform where French businesses in Galway would be listed and highlighted to provide them with better visibility. The concept at the core of this project was to shine a light on French culture and products available today in Ireland. It’s also a great way for French citizens to find a small piece of France in Ireland and connect French business owners to facilitate collaboration!

As a business created by Frenchie Julien Garrigues and fellow Iberico-French Antonio Moreno, Black Pug Studio jumped on the occasion to be part of this emerging community supported by local groups and French government representatives in Ireland and France.

The project was launched in 2016 at a business convention organized by Business France in collaboration with the French Embassy in Ireland. It was very well received by the local community and by key members of the Franco-Irish alliance.

It wasn’t long before the project was extended from French businesses in Galway to French businesses in Ireland considering the number of requests coming from companies located in other parts of the country eager to join our growing community.

Rouge — French Restaurant in Galway

How it works

The way it works is straightforward. When you navigate to the Tour de France — Ireland Edition website, you are presented with our listing of French companies in Ireland. Each company has its contact info, pictures, description, location, and social channels. Toggle our Map View to see a map of Ireland with all the French businesses that are listed on the platform.

Any business can submit an application to be listed on the platform. Our admin team reviews each submission, and once approved, the company is added automatically to the listing. As simple as that!

The promotion generated by the platform is not the only positive aspect that a business gets. It also boosts their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as we are linking to their website and social channels.

The technology used in V1

At Black Pug Studio, we are huge fans of building custom-made tools and solutions. It is more often better in terms of optimization, flexibility, and design.

At first, back in 2016, we have used a first Tech stack that was brand new at the time, and it was a great learning experience for our growing team.

Tour de France — Galway Edition Version 1.0

The first stack used Polymer v1 as a front-end library. The technology was a bit experimental at the time but fully backed by Google as an up-and-coming project. This component library was indeed powerful and very small and optimized. Still, the amount of development required to create a fully-fledged platform was a considerable challenge.

The second component of our first stack was the Firebase suite. We used their Storage, Realtime Database, and Hosting products to put the platform in place.

Firebase Storage provides an easy to use and powerful file hosting service that can be used as your CDN to serve media content to our visitors. We used it to store all the images uploaded by the businesses!

The Firebase Realtime Database is a No-SQL database that can be implemented in the back-end but also on the front-end to display data dynamically as soon as a document is updated. We love the dynamic aspect of this product as it allows for a more interactive and smoother experience for the user.

Finally, Firebase Hosting is a super inexpensive and blazing fast way to host a project on the Web. We integrated this product to our deployment pipeline in a matter of hours and our using it since then! Unlike most competitors, Firebase Hosting charges its customers based on the traffic their website receives. As long as your website is not generating traffic, you won’t pay for anything, which is always good news!

Our 2020 update!

For this update, Catherine and the team at Black Pug Studio came up with some new platform features.

Tour de France — Ireland Edition Version 2.0

A new front-end framework

We have decided to give a nice revamp to the platform, and we took this opportunity to rebuild the project using our current favorite Tech stack.

Following this decision, we swapped Polymer for VueJS, which is our go-to when it comes to JavaScript front-end frameworks. We have kept Firebase as the backbone of the platform to facilitate our work as much as possible VueJS is easy to pick-up and robust front-end framework that works especially well with real-time dataflows like ours.

If you haven’t checked out VueJS yet, we definitely recommend it! It will make your life as a developer much more accessible, and you can pick it up in no time. Their community is also fantastic, and there are many resources to help you learn and master the framework.

A brand new design

Our CEO and creative director, Tony, worked in collaboration with Tiphaine Di Valentin, our Assistant Creative Director, on a new design for Tour de France — Ireland Edition. They have focussed on implementing better UI and UX to create a clearer experience using a more modern approach.

A new listing format

We decided to first present our visitors with the list of companies using a card format as it is more visual and easier than a map view. You can now see the full list of French businesses and scroll through them quickly!

Open during COVID-19

At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Catherine asked us to add this simple feature to help promote businesses that were still open during those hard times and let people know that they could support those businesses by continuing to buy from them the crisis.

What’s next?

After the success of Tour de France — Ireland Edition and the excellent promotion work done by Catherine Gagneux, other French communities reached out to us to deploy their own version of the platform in other countries!

We are now negotiating with multiple entities to try to bring this project to a more global level to pursue the project’s original goals. We want to boost the visibility of French businesses abroad, to create communities that would help promote French culture and products, and to help Frenchies around the world not to feel too homesick no matter where they go!

Photo by David Clode

We had a great time working with Catherine on this ambitious, awesome project and helping French businesses in Ireland. It feels great to be part of a community and to be able to share our experiences around a platter of cheese and a glass of wine! Hehe.

Black Pug Studio will continue pushing this project forward. We hope to see more people getting involved by helping each other and spreading the good word around, especially during these harsh times.

We will keep you updated on the development of this project, and we hope that you enjoyed reading about it!

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to tell us more in the comment section below. We will be happy to answer :)

À bientôt !

About Black Pug Studio

Black Pug Studio is a multidisciplinary creative agency in Galway crafting premium and uniquely tailored web design, branding, digital design, and software & web technology experiences.

We partner with companies to create their ideal business tools using the latest technologies available wrapped in beautifully designed interfaces.

Get in touch today and start building your project with us! We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Tour de France — Ireland Edition was originally published in Creative by Black Pug Studio on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.