At Bandwidth, the sprint sabbatical program allows a Bandwidth employee to quit doing their real job for two weeks, in order to work on a completely new project that interests them and could potentially add value to a number of things that Bandwidth currently does today. Our program was even featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, if you need another reason to believe that letting your employees quit their jobs for two weeks can, in fact, be a great thing.
Yesterday, our current sprint sabbatical participants presented their projects. We had four presenters up: three developers and one designer. Let’s get started.
Ed Hintz, Project: bwbot
Bwbot is a hubot for Bandwidth that can essentially be programmed to do things our company would need in other types of instant messaging applications. Ed saw an issue with current IM applications. You could message with several people at one time, sure. But if you needed to discuss something that required several words (i.e. a voice conversation) with all of the people involved, you had to jump on a completely different platform to make a video call. Using slash commands, the bwbot is able to perform commands, respond, and make or receive http calls from 3rd party services. It can even be integrated with other applications like Catapult or Amazon Web Services. Ed’s specific example incorporated bwbot into Slack.
One demo shown during the presentation gave the weather:
If you type “bwbot help” into your Slack conversation, bwbot will respond with a list of commands. Type “bwbot weather.” bwbot responds: “It is currently 73 degrees in Raleigh, NC.”
Another made a phone call:
Type “bwbot” again into your conversation and respond to bwbot with “bwbot call @channel.” This will start a conference call with each person with a registered number in @channel.
Next steps for bwbot: Using the platform internally at Bandwidth!
Matt Zizzi, Project: Catapult Monitoring (CatMon)
Matt saw that monitoring async APIs is tough, as the alarms for this system seemed to be cryptic and slow, which ultimately led to a lot of alarms being ignored. This was due to the time lapse between actual issues and the alarms alerting us of the issues. Enter, CatMon. CatMon allows us to monitor Catapult, Bandwidth’s Communication API Platform, at the feature level and gives us an outside-in look at how Catapult is performing. With CatMon, you can collect several API metrics which provides a better alarm system, along with an alarm system that notifies you when monitoring is down. Throughout his sabbatical, Matt even uncovered a hidden bug in part of the Catapult API! Next up for this project is integrating its capabilities with other tools.
Nicko Guyer, Project: Universal Chat Client for Edge Messaging
Shaun Sutherland, Project: Responsive Email Design
Shaun is a designer at Bandwidth who wanted to learn a little more about the current state of email design. By comparing the components of responsive web design to that of responsive email design, he was able to investigate web design’s effects on the process of creating and designing an email. Due to the rise of mobile, over 53% of email is opened in a mobile client, leading to the continued decline of desktop and web. So having a template that works with mobile email is important. With his research, he was able to create a potential Bandwidth email template that includes fonts, buttons, alignment and much more, using progressive enhancement, a process which begins with a basic structure and then builds upon it.
Want to know the best part? The Bandwidth Sabbatical Program takes place four times a year. We can’t wait for the next round of presentations and new ideas in March!
If you’re itching to hear more about our experiences in this program, check out these links: