Co-founders Jason Duncan and Robin Miller met in the summer of 2008, working together at the University of Alberta on the same Computing Science research project, ScriptEase. The two became friends easily and found that they worked well together, sharing a passion for good design and software craftsmanship, as well as complementary outlooks on life, society, and humour. It was a year later that they were given their first opportunity to put their passion into full effect. Having been expanded far past its original intent, the ScriptEase codebase had languished under years of negligent construction and absent architecture. The professor leading the project, Duane Szafron, gave the pair a blank cheque to begin construction on ScriptEase 2 from the ground up.
It was the correct choice. A modular design following basic principles of architecture was conceived and constructed. At the end of the work term, ScriptEase 2 was capable of much of the functionality of the original, but in only one fifth to one quarter the lines of code. It was much easier to extend, easier to use, and the number of crashes plummeted from ScriptEase 1 levels. They looked upon their creation and smiled. It was not perfect but it was better.
During that time, both Jason and Robin took up the study of Aikido. Practised by Japanese samurai for unarmed combat on the field of battle, it uniquely leverages momentum, angular motion, and anatomy to effectively overwhelm the balance systems of the human body. Instead of meeting an attacker's force in opposition, an aikidoka moves into the space where the attacker has no strength and manipulates them both in such a way as to throw or lock the attacker. Those samurai, like the knights of medieval europe, operated on principles of honour and justice. They also were renowned for their pursuit of perfection in everything that they undertook. After years of study, our two heroes have earned black belts. Their aikido is not perfect, but it is better every day.
Fast forward a few years. Neither are students any longer, but both longed for the freedom they once had as system architects and as leaders in their department's student council. Jason was suffocating under thick, woolen layers of bureaucracy, and Robin had no desire continue in the workforce as an employee. Together they decided that starting a business was the best course of action for themselves, their community, and the world.
All that was needed was a name. After several lists, one name stood out. In the Japanese 9th century court, Sugawara no Michizane was a scholar, poet, ambassador, and consultant. His downfall was the plot of a rival, and he was banished to die in exile. After his death, the court was pummeled with vicious storms. Those storms ceased when he was deified as the shinto kami Tenjin, the spirit of learning and scholarship.
Our society today is beset by a storm. Our storm thunders with the crashes of a thousand applications and howls with the frustration of a million users. Our storm is one that the software industry has allowed to rage. Now is the time for scholarship, for learning, and for intellect. Now is the time for honour, for compassion, and for craftsmanship. People deserve better from their software, and Tenjin will be one to bring it to them. Tenjin is not perfect, but it is better every day.
Now is the time for Tenjin.
To uplift humanity by improving impactful systems.
- Kaizen - Everything can and should be better
- Craftsmanship - Build well in order to build quickly
- Enduring - Software will last longer than expected
- Creativity - Consider alternatives, use the best solution
- Adaptation - Move around strong opposition into their weak spot
- Reflection - Examine everything; even these core values may be improved over time
- Honour - Act truthfully and with compassion; profit is a karmic side effect of doing good
- Education - The pursuit of knowledge is the only way forward
- Inspire the world to take up our purpose
- Raise the bar for software quality and encourage people to demand better of all software
- Bring elegant, sustainable design to all systems
- Serve the Triple Win philosophy: the best solutions are good for ourselves, customers, and society at large
- Always be clear then precise; clarity is more important than precision
- Use Behaviour Driven Development in all software projects
- Support organic expansion of software workforce diversity internally and externally because artificial diversity is just as harmful as none at all
- Support the education of our team, our communities, and the world