This year's hackathon: a travel through time

The ePages Hackathon is an integral part of our calendars. Each year we plan two days filled with interesting topics and lots of fun. But what does participation in this hackathon actually mean? Let me take you on a little time travel to give you some insights on the preparation and the actual event.

Three weeks before the hackathon

It’s getting serious, folks. We were asked to brainstorm about possible topics and collected them on a Confluence page. These questions needed consideration:

  • What would help us in our everyday office life?
  • Which topics are on our I-always-wanted-to-work-on-that list?
  • Can we come up with a topic that suits our omnichannel strategy?

Even my team member Birgit and I (as “non-developers”) found a topic that we would like to work on: improving the About us page of the DevPortal.

Two weeks before the hackathon

Lots of topics were collected and added to the list. Now it was time to decide which topic we’d like to join. Let me tell you, it was a tough decision. So many different topics, and all of them were interesting! Some suggestions aimed to improve our processes and workflows, such as a standardized onboarding process, unified PR pipelines, a performance test, or a Circle CI wallboard. Others had a closer look at our products and merchants, e.g. a UX check for integrating apps, an Instore Checkout, or an app for importing products via CSV.

These questions helped me to decide which topic I’d like to join:

  • How can I personally help the team?
  • What will I learn when participating?
  • Whom would I work with?

A hackathon is the perfect chance to collaborate with colleagues that you don’t work with on a daily basis. Maybe even with colleagues from different locations. We can even build small “feature teams” for the two days.

As my teammate Birgit took the lead for the “About us page” group, I took the chance to join a team that had the goal to categorize our merchants and their shops. The results of such a categorization could help Product Management to make decisions on future features or improvements. And of course, I also had my personal goal: get some ideas to improve our help articles.

First hack day

The time has come. It’s hackathon! And what could be the best way to start the first day? Right. By having a breakfast!

The room was packed with ePagees. Our colleagues from Jena, Barcelona, and Bilbao already arrived the day before, and everyone was chatting… and eating. Around 10 am the last buns and bagels disappeared, and our CTO officially kicked off the event.

For the rest of the day, each team was diving into their topic, brainstorming, discussing, hacking, or developing prototypes. When walking across the floor, I’ve seen many colored white boards and concentrated faces.

Around 6 pm one word was spread across the floor… PIZZA. In no time, all teams came together and enjoyed the food. While eating, I could already notice that many colleagues fell in love with their topics. They were quite satisfied with their results, and had big plans for the next day… or even the night.

Second hack day

Did I mention that the winners of the hackathon get an Amazon voucher (and also the 2nd and 3rd place)? No? Well, now you’ll understand that each group was even more motivated to deliver great results. So, everyone continued hacking, discussing, and analyzing. And of course, all teams remembered that they have a presentation slot at the end of the day. No way, some prepared the slides in the last minutes because they were so into their tasks 😉.

At 4:30 pm all teams gathered into our biggest conference room. It was time to share the results. As we were nine groups, we had a tough time schedule: Three minutes setup, five minutes presentation, and two minutes for questions. Afterwards, everyone had three votes.

And the winner is… well, it would be a nice romantic-hollywood-movie-like ending for this post to tell you that my team won. But we didn’t 😉. Instead, the standardized onboarding process won, followed by our About us page, as well as the Instore Checkout for our Beyond product. For all other teams, the provided dinner was a pretty good consolation.

If you’d like to get more insights on our hackathon, check #ephack19 on Twitter. Or take the chance and visit our newly designed and award-winning About us page.

About the author

Christina Gebken is a Localization Manager and TechWriter. She loves working agile, and writing new help articles for our software.