Innovation As a Team Sport: PhraseApp’s August HackDay

Here at PhraseApp, we regularly organize HackDays. Not only to encourage our team to spend two entire days exploring their creativity and working on a project of personal interest but also to stimulate staying curious and in touch with the fast dynamic changes in formats, frameworks, and languages. Therefore, the projects mustn't necessarily be related to PhraseApp's everyday tasks.

Today, we’d like to share some impressions of what we were working on. Throughout the weeks beforehand, we collected ideas for interesting coding projects. You can either work in a small team or on your own, exploring a new language or framework. While the main objective of our HackDays is for our team to experiment, collaborate, be creative and have fun, once in a while an awesome idea even makes it into PhraseApp. Eventually, six projects were decided on and tackled over the course of two days. Check out this brief overview of the projects our team was working on and see who owned the award ceremony at the very end.

Projects

CLI Library

Instead of using our own CLI library (https://github.com/dynport/dgtk/tree/master/cli), Tobias went for the currently most popular one (https://github.com/urfave/cli) for a change. His idea was to produce a lot less code and make it more dynamic based on our API specifications.

The result of Tobias’ efforts was a rather cleaner CLI interface in which the commands are sorted into groups. He found out that the handling of command line flags is also way more sturdy and goes a lot better with the Unix standards.

Growth Attribution Visualization

Tim and Sharona’s idea was to visualize the conversion of single marketing channels with the help of Elixir and React. They tried to figure out a way to better understand the various touch points of our users and their conversion rates.

Additionally, they enjoyed being able to compare the development environment of Elixir and React to the usual Ruby on Rails.

Branching & Versioning

Stefan and Fabian went full screen in order to experiment with the implementation of a basic branching mechanism, just like you know it from Git. Because the time was limited they decided not to build a general branching system but rather proof the concepts and ideas of how to store PhraseApp data in order to allow branching.

They implemented this for our new jobs feature (Beta). In the end, they crafted a prototype that is able to store changes on translations per job and provides a simple merge view while finishing the job.

Feature Analysis

Michael aimed at providing an up to date feature overview from a competitive perspective. The aim was to investigate room for improvement and derive a positioning in the competitive landscape.

He found out which feature set would make sense to implement in order to stay state of the art.

Business Software Authentification with SAML & Okta

SAML is an important technology to manage authentication in business software, especially for larger teams. The idea for this HackDay project was to build basic SAML support for PhraseApp so that teams can single sign-on to PhraseApp via Okta or OneLogin.

This project made it clear that the goal was highly ambitious. But after reading tons of specification and best-practices, the result was a basic support for SAML authentication and Manuel was able to sign into his PhraseApp account via Okta. He says it was an interesting 24 hours, as it also became clear that there will be tons of work left in the future for a possible, actual implementation.

Identifying and visualizing metrics from customer data

To support our customers we use Intercom which has served us great. One thing that we found lacking in Intercom were detailed metrics. Intercom provides only a median response time and the number of new conversations. In his HackDay project, Sönke extracted the conversations via the Intercom API, stored relevant information in an InfluxDB instance and then visualized the data with Grafana.

And the winner is…

At the end of the second day, everybody was able to show off the results of their work at the award ceremony. A brief presentation shall convince the other team members of both their idea as well as their skills of implementing this idea as quickly as possible. Eventually, Sönke made the race with his visualization of database metrics. He now can claim to be the undefeated titleholder of recent PhraseApp HackDays. Above all, he once again showed everybody what an awesome hacker he is. What a show-off 😉

Working and Hacking at PhraseApp

Being able to regularly “hack out” your own ideas is only one of plenty perks of working at PhraseApp. The vibrant startup-spirit in the heart of Hamburg city allows you to continuously thrive on both personal and professional level. You can choose your personal setup, work independently and goal-oriented while being able to enjoy long career perspectives and a competitive salary.

You know what? We even throw in a couple of more goodies:

  • Free beverages and fresh fruits daily
  • A roof top terrace & BBQ
  • Regular team breakfast
  • Panoramic view over the heart of Hamburg

Why don’t you join us for the next HackDay as a new PhraseApp developer!?

Get in touch with via jobs@phraseapp.com and pay us a visit!


Also published on Medium.

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