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The 2021 Shortcut Hackathon Roundup

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Erika Carter

Earlier this month, we conducted our annual hackathon. During this marathon of hacking, all Shortcut employees were invited to set aside their routine work and collaborate intensely on new and exciting projects. You know, hack.

So, we did. We hacked. We created. We learned. We conducted demos. And at the end, we hand-clap emojied each other from New York to San Francisco, from Ann Arbor to Dublin, from nomadic vans in motion to home offices basement to attic.

Most projects focused on improvements to the Shortcut web app; some projects focused on our own ability to reach company goals; and some projects focused on making the concept of work itself more enjoyable. All of which were enjoyable.

All in all, fifteen projects were presented, with seven winning each of our coveted awards. Here they are.

Stale Labels 

Winner: Ship It!

The One That’s Ready to Go Live

Sidd Penakalapati, Product Manager
Drea Latouche, Lifecycle Marketing Manager
Eric Caspary, Software Engineer
Andrew Childs, Co-Founder / CDO

Premise: Analyze an organization’s labels and suggest labels that can be archived/deleted.

Hate clutter? This cross-functional team worked on inputs to build out lists of labels for our customers based on the number of times a label is used, or the last time a label was used, and more. This way, customers could have the ability to archive, delete, and merge stale labels. The idea is to help our customers declutter their digital workspaces and improve their performance.

Easier Decisions 

Winner: Best Cross-Functional Team 

The One with All the Different Brains

Christine Sanderson-Movius, Software Engineer
Joey Shampain, Senior Product Manager
Sidd Penakalapati, Product Manager
Shafak Ilyas, Senior Accountant
Andrew Childs, Co-Founder / CDO 

Premise: Make Shortcut a better place to collaborate on open-ended discussion items and decision-making.

Combine a Software Engineer, a couple of Product Managers, an Accountant, one of the two co-founders of our company, and a 1-hour “Crazy 8s” design sprint, and you get a new-world exploration of how to facilitate decision-making when there’s a clear problem, but a wide open, uncharted, less clear, solution landscape. The upshot? The exercise helps inform the work our Differentiation Squad will prioritize and explore in the coming months, as part of a broader theme of more effective collaboration in Shortcut.

Engineering Site

The One with All the Engineers

Al Power, Senior Brand Designer
Jennifer Scroggins, Software Engineer
Paolo D’ettorre, Senior Product Designer

Premise: Introduce the world to our Shortcut Engineers via a dedicated site.

Who is the Shortcut Engineering Team? What music do they listen to, and what do their pets look like? What’s the team culture vibe? Learn all of this and more by perusing our software engineers’ personal Spotify playlists, blog posts, interviews, and documentation on team culture over at the new Shortcut engineering site.

Inbox

The One Where You Know What You Have to Deal With

Erik Pukinskis, Software Engineer
Jenel Meyers, Software Engineer
Osei Poku, Engineering Manager
Joey Shampain, Senior Product Manager

Premise: Give users a customizable inbox for notifications.

Let’s be honest, how many Shortcut comments have you missed? This project was designed to experiment with explicitly archiving notifications in Shortcut. This means filtering what activities appear and marking them as read, and making it easier to manage notifications so you know what work you’ve got left to deal with. The idea is to use it like a to-do list, if you want, and get the satisfaction of checking things off. Check.

Threaded Comments

Winner: Kurt’s Choice 

The One our CEO Likes

Mikhail Aronov, Software Engineer
Osei Poku, Engineering Manager
Juan Orozco, Software Engineer
Joey Shampain, Senior Product Manager

Premise: Thread comments in Stories to make conversations more focused in Shortcut.

This project’s aim was to make conversations more productive and teams more collaborative, as well as unlock better Slack integration in Stories. With one-level-deep threaded comments on the Story level only, they experimented with ways to do that while keeping things simple.

Shortcut’s Got Personality 

Winner: Audience’s Choice: Best in Show

The One You Want to Sit Next to at Lunch

Melissa Keller, Software Engineer
Andreas Mcdermott, Software Engineer

Premise: Inject more of our somewhat snarky but totally fun-loving personality into the web app.

An Avatar Creator for user profile icons. Confetti utils and celebrations for Epic & Milestone completion. Two new animated default loading icons. A memory game easter egg. A super sneaky appearance by Dot when idle (Sneaky Dot!). A new 404 Screen that says You’re Being Watched, with a joke. These experimental features make the app even more enjoyable to use, which is, after all, kind of what we’re going for.

VSC Improvements & Larks

The One with Fewer Clicks

Toby Crawley, Software Engineer

Premise: Add more event handlers.

In our three VSC integrations, which allow you to tie activity in GitHub, GitLab, and BitBucket into ongoing work within stories, we currently have 3 event handlers - but what if we had more!? Toby explored ways to create / update stories and labels with even fewer clicks, by enabling a story to automatically move down a workflow based on the actions of more integrated event handlers.

:thank_you: Emoji

The One with All the Gratitude

Andrew Childs, Co-founder / CDO 

Premise: Allow users to express gratitude and support with a new emoji in Shortcut.

Wouldn’t it be great to emoji-react directly to any work entity, so that you can easily express the sentiment of ‘Thank You’? And get an easier sense of team engagement and personal feeling on the work entities you create or work on?

Browser Extension 

The One That Connects to Everything

Nicolas Charpentier, Software Engineer
Missy Danielsen, Software Engineer

Premise: Enhance browsing experiences on external websites with Shortcut integrations.

This team explored options for a browser extension (Chrome) to convert comments from Github and push other content from around the internet into Shortcut as a Story. They explored browser extension architecture and defined a good structure for potential upcoming features and ways to go beyond Chrome.

New Story/Entity Dialog

The One About Story Design

Courtney Nguyen, Software Engineer
Brendan LaCroix, Software Engineer
John Sherwin, Senior Product Designer
Kieron Keenan, Senior Product Designer
David Oppenheimer, Customer Support Advocate
Erik Pukinskis, Software Engineer

Premise: Improve our story creation dialogue with sustainable design that can handle Shortcut’s growth.

Our Story dialogue is one of the most used pages in the app. Whether you’re creating, reviewing, or collaborating on Stories, the feature is a fundamental piece in a user’s day-to-day job, and is becoming more and more powerful with new features such as Teams, Custom Fields, and so on. This team created a new shelf design as proof of concept for customers as we look toward the future.

Better Demo Environment

Winner: Best No-Code Project 

The One Where They Did All the Other Things But They Didn’t Write Code

Christine Sanderson-Movius, Software Engineer
Jake Garza, Senior Acquisition Marketing Manager
Jarrod Weaver, Account Executive
Eric Caspary, Software Engineer

Premise: Our demo environment - well, we could do a better job of selling ourselves.

Most of our customers come to us through word of mouth, or by falling in love with Shortcut during the free trial. Or maybe you’ve seen our recent billboards in SF and NY (We put the “can” in kanban? That’s us). But sometimes we have to actually “sell” Shortcut, and our demo environment could show more of everything Shortcut has to offer in the traditional sales process. So, for this internal Shortcut project, the team worked toward a “dream state” demo environment that includes automatic updates so that dates never expire or become stale, and is robust enough to showcase any report or element in the workspace.

Reactive Technology Research

The One That Went Exploring

Ben Wittenberg, Software Engineer

Premise: Research reactive technology and explore product ideas.

Ben put time and energy into researching, ideating, and reading. This included: a timely dataflow reading; the fixing of a DoS bug; documentation of two product ideas (personal to-dos & simplified workflow states); a data layer component interface; and reactive programming research using MobX and RxDB.

What is ARR?

The One with All the Math

Shafak Ilyas, Senior Accountant
Shannjit Singh, VP of Finance

Premise: Refine our internal data models to review Shortcut’s ARR.

This team used SQL to create internal Shortcut dashboards that detail our annual recurring revenue (ARR) client by client, month by month, as well as # of paid seats by client through watermark, and more!

Relational Factories

The One with All the Testing

Dana Calderone, Growth Product Manager
Erik Pukinskis, Software Engineer
Jorge Morales, Software Engineer

Premise: Make it easier to set up meaningful integration tests.

Our frontend integration tests rely on factories and API response mocking to specify preconditions. The time-consuming part of this is setting up the relationships between different entity types (e.g. Team -> Workflow -> Workflow State -> Story). In response, this team constructed an easier internal test setup that allows frontend engineers to write lots of tests to match specs from product managers.

And that’s our 2021 Shortcut Hackathon roundup! Also known as: The One with All the Hacking.

Let us know what your favorite projects are in our Shortcut Community, and you may end up seeing some of these features in the app soon! We’ll keep you posted.

We’ll see you next year for the 2022 Shortcut Hackathon. But before then, check back with us in April 2022 for the results of our Bug Smash.