Say Media Hackathon 2014 Winners

The latest and greatest innovations from the Tempest engineering, product and design teams.
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David Lerman
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The latest and greatest innovations from the Tempest engineering, product and design teams.

Twice a year, Say's product, engineering, design and studio teams drop their normal workload and go head-to-head for two days in the Say Hackathon. People pitch each other ideas for projects, teams are formed, and everyone sets to work for 48 hours building their ideas and competing for cash prizes.

Some of our coolest innovations and new product ideas have come out of these hackathons, and this one was no exception. If you want a preview of what’s coming to Tempest, you’ll find it here…

Tempest Composer Projects

Two of our teams set out to add new reporting to the CMS to help authors and editors grow their audience. Project Viral (with Brad, Antoine, Mira and Aida) was one of the hackathon's 3 winning teams. The foursome created a set of new dashboards for authors, letting them see realtime social data for all their content. The goal was to show what content is getting shared, what content is trending, what content is about to go viral.

Project Viral's social analytics dashboard

Project Viral's social analytics dashboard

While we love to talk about social optimization, search is still a big part of the picture, and we're constantly looking at ways to improve our SEO.  SEO Suite (created by Kyle) picks up where one of our last Hackathon projects left off, crawling each of our sites and alerting us to potential SEO issues.

The SEO Dashboard reports potential search optimization issues.

The SEO Dashboard reports potential search optimization issues.

Two teams worked on new feature for the core authoring experience. The first team (Vicki and Ian) created Project Demeter (Demeter: god of crops!) which adds inline image cropping to the CMS, one of our most requested features.

Image cropping within the CMS

Image cropping within the CMS

Team QE (Michael, Nicole and Bryan) looked at another common editorial issue: concurrency. Today, when an editor starts working on an article, Tempest locks the article to prevent someone else from making conflicting changes. QE replaces this with Google Docs style real-time editing and collaboration, powered by FireBase. An editor and author can work on the same article and see each other's changes, all in real-time.

Tempest Site Projects

Project Eagle speeds up Tempest page load time.

Project Eagle speeds up Tempest page load time.

Project Eagle (created by Mart, Smith, Kevin, Satoshi and Paul) was our second hackathon winner. The team prototyped a bunch of a new technologies that we're considering for future versions of Tempest. They replaced the database backend with Elastic Search, replaced Angular with a new proprietary templating language called Thistle, and prototyped FlexBox for CSS layout. The end result: a site that loaded more than twice as fast!  Lots of exciting improvements here.

The Parallax Project (built by Daniel) used CSS and advanced features of Cloudinary to build some fancy visual effects on our feature articles.

Parallax scrolling: the background image scrolls at a different rate than the rest of the page

Parallax scrolling: the background image scrolls at a different rate than the rest of the page

Two projects, Tempest Cloak (James, Mira and Matt) and Tempest Config Builder (Pradheap) set out to make it easier to build and update sites on Tempest.  As we continue expanding Tempest to power more sites, these projects will help designers and migration engineers work more effectively to bring new properties onboard.

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Tempest Advertising Projects

Our third winning project came from the Tempest monetization team. One of our most popular ad products is currently implemented in Flash, which has a number of limitations including availability on mobile. Project Cardinal (Bryan, Ariel, Steve, Nathan, Cameron, Jen, Scott and Auryn) ported our entire ad product from Flash to HTML5, which loads faster and works on all devices.

Culture Projects

Lots of great, very practical projects - but what would a hackathon be without some more fun projects that promote Say Media's culture?

Say Media has offices in 7 cities and lots of talented people with diverse skills.  The Who "Knew" team (Justin, Ray, Mira, Janette, David and Angela) built an employee database that lets you find the right employee to answer your exact question.

who_do_I_ask_screenshot.png

Meanwhile, the studio team in Montreal (Swan, Ian, Genevieve, Oscar, Alex, Seb and Siwoo) built a multi-player real-time game called Zeee that brings internal teams together across cities and countries.

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And finally, a longstanding hackathon tradition: the Say Beer team (Kyle) made a Say Media micro-brew, complete with custom labels designed by our own Nigel Sussman.

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Hacking to the Future

All in all, one of our best hackathons, and lots of great ideas to add to the roadmap.  Congrats to all the teams for their amazing work, and I can't wait to see these ideas start making their way into Tempest!

Related: Say Media Hackathon 2014 Photos