Wonder what a Microsoft 1:1 hackathon looks like? OnePlace Solutions Teams/Graph Engagement Experience
I was fortunate enough to be involved in a 1:1 hack engagement with Microsoft recently where OnePlace Solutions hosted some eager Microsoft engineers for a week long engagement. The intention was to see how we could harness some of Microsoft’s new Teams extensibility options and the Graph API, and for Microsoft to identify limitations or areas for improvement.
The format of the event:
- brainstorming possible ideas ahead of the event itself
- discussion and selection of a few possible ideas
- splitting up into teams and scoping what were would try to achieve within the scope of the hack
- working in a compressed scrum process (daily stand-ups, task refinement and retros)
- present to a wider audience on the last day of the hack to show what had been achieved and the business benefit
It was amazing to see how quickly the Microsoft engineers were absorbed into our development team, brought up to speed with our existing code-base, and starting to deliver functionality.
The real takeaway and reason for writing this article it just to let everyone know what an awesome opportunity these engagements are from Microsoft, a bit of what you can expect and that I highly recommend getting involved if the opportunity arises.
What did I see as the biggest benefits to our business of doing this hack with Microsoft?
The tips, tricks and work pattern knowledge sharing that occurred only comes when you truly try to work together on a project and aren’t just academically sharing knowledge. We all work in different ways and by running the hack almost as a true project (in a condensed form) there is a lot more than just the coding that is being discussed. VSTS, scoping, work item tracking, design white-boarding sessions, daily stand ups, retros, git source control, review of pull requests. All this is outside of the actual coding and using the technology being hacked on, but it is also a critical piece of developing in an efficient, scalable and measurable way.
Accelerated and focused learning on new technologies. The speed of getting across where a technology like Teams extensibility is up to, what’s possible when applying to problems we are trying to solve, and that hard first mile of understanding the frameworks, dependencies, and tooling to get the first hello world skeleton running.
Outside of the technology it’s a great opportunity to meet and build relationships with people who share a similar passion and spend a lot of their time working to solve similar problems. At OnePlace Solutions we are a passionate bunch of technologists that enjoy working in a social and supportive environment – from what I’ve experienced the hack is a perfect match for the way we work, with Microsoft bringing the same mindset, energy and support to the hack. We spent as much time laughing and discussing topics outside of technology as we did on it. At the end of the day we are social creatures and I found the hack was a perfect environment that bought people together with a desire to want to work together on a common goal, to challenge and push each other to do more in a fun and supportive way, and have a good laugh at the same time. Having access to global Microsoft resources to get definitive answers quickly, removed the amount of wasted time and frustration which allowed productivity, enthusiasm and energy levels to remain high.
We dedicate an amount of time each sprint to R&D, which usually involves educating ourselves in what is possible with new technologies and APIs and often going as far as prototyping code to see what’s possible and where the limitations are. It’s hard to imagine a better return on investment than spending this R&D time with Microsoft in the format of a 1:1 hack.
So a huge thank you to the Microsoft engineers, we had a great time and my advice to anyone thinking of getting involved with these engagements is that they can have great value to your team.
Microsoft is currently running a Hack Productivity competition for creating apps that leverage Office 365 Add-ins and/or APIs to deliver an app that increases user productivity.
I’ve been working with the awesome dev team at OnePlace Solutions to cook up a modern Outlook Add-in that will run on any device and allow a user to quickly and easily save email and/or attachments from Outlook to SharePoint/Office 365 Groups.
We think it’s an awesome productivity app as it makes use of the “dead-time” you get during the day when you haven’t got time to do any heavy work but have your phone or tablet handy. This allows you to do those tasks like filing emails into your Project Management System in SharePoint while catching the train to work, or saving that updated document you’ve been sent into your Legal Matter Management System in SharePoint while waiting for your doctor’s appointment.
We are using all the cool technologies to make the magic happen. Running as a super fast Angular 2 Outlook Add-in and looking very slick thanks to the Office UI Fabric! We are utilizing the Microsoft Graph, SharePoint and Exchange services of Office 365 and hosting the app 100% on Microsoft’s Azure Cloud.
We didn’t just cobble together an app for the Hackathon, we built this app to be ready for the prime time and it will become a commercial product offering in the very near future. We have released the app into the Office Store as a preview where you can take a look at what we’ve built and try it out for yourself.
Get the OnePlaceMail for SharePoint Online preview app from the Office Store today.
Learn more about the app by visiting the OnePlace Solutions website