On Wednesday, June 29th, TSG held its first ever Hack Day! The idea of a Hack Day originated at Yahoo! (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hack_Day), and similar ideas arose at companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. This post will detail our experience.
TSG’s Hack Day was identified as a way to drive both autonomy and innovation within the company. With minimal guidelines, employees were given a chance to work on whatever cool stuff they had in mind, but were required to prepare a quick 5 minute presentation to give to the company and their peers at the end of the day. Employees were encouraged to pursue any technology-related interest they would like to work on, work in teams as necessary, and see where the day took them!
Once the dust settled and the coding ended, a total of fifteen individuals and teams presented on a wide spectrum of different topics. On the TSG product side HPI, OpenMigrate, ActiveWizard, and OpenAnnotate all received attention. HPI received a facelift both aesthetically and functionally using the YUI 3 libraries, with groundwork laid for introducing a folder browser to the interface. Additionally, the Grails web framework was explored in the context of HPI to look at making the configuration and extension points more lightweight.
On the OpenMigrate side, time was spent exploring a SharePoint migration target. Time was also spent developing a testing suite to allow for simpler validation of migration configurations. The ActiveWizardLite product was ported to run embedded within Alfresco Share, allowing for the dynamic forms interface to work hand in hand with Share’s other collaboration features. Additionally, modifications were made to allow for deploying ActiveWizard method server code via a Documentum Archive, rather than copying compiled source directly to the method server. OpenAnnotate was enhanced with a real-time chat interface to allow for smoother collaboration between users simultaneously editing a document.
Attention was also given to a wide variety of other topics, including an analysis of Ephesoft open source scanning solutions, a review of Box.net (a recent partner of Documentum), and data visualization to allow for simpler monitoring of key repository data. One team even spent the day building a web-controlled robot, complete with a webcam for viewing its surroundings and controllable using a Wii Nunchuk! Not sure that will result in a new TSG open source product, but the problem solving and excitement by the team made it a perfect activity for the day.
By far, the largest amount of attention was spent reviewing the design of TSG’s website and overall online footprint. Several teams spent time exploring how to improve both the front-end interface and the back-end WCM component. Look for updates to be released this fall! Focus was also put on expanding TSG’s presence within the social media world, which included the creation of a new TSG position – the TSG Social Media Czar. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@tsgrp)!
All in all, the day provided a great break from the day-to-day TSG activities and allowed for the company employees to spend time exploring personal interests that they otherwise may not have had the chance to do. The day resulted in many useful enhancements to TSG in all facets of the company, from the product side to the culture. A second TSG Hack Day has been targeted for October 2011, so be sure to check back then to see what new updates have come about!