Kazhoon Hackathon: Our ultimate dev playground

We’ve just wrapped up our Kazhoon Hackathon, a two-day event event organized by our Infrastructure department. Different teams across the company pitched in to contribute to Kazhoon—our internal developer portal based on Spotify Backstage.

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What’s Kazhoon, anyway?

Kazhoon is a web interface built on top of Infobip’s service catalog imagined as one-stop-shop (or at least a starting point) for all Infobip devs. Built on Spotify Backstage, Kazhoon relies on Node.js and React for its architecture, and it offers a repository of ready-made components to facilitate development for a wide range of team members.

And the funky name name? It comes from the word Kažun, round stone shed typical for the Mediterranean, used to store tools and protect shepherds in case of a storm. You can find these traditional stone buildings near our state-of-the-art campus in Istria, which is quite a fun juxtaposition and makes the name all the cooler.

The foundation

When the hackathon started, Kazhoon was up already up and running, and featured:

  • Service Catalog Integration: A comprehensive list of services, beyond just those currently deployed.
  • Service Manifest Editing: An intuitive UI for editing service manifests.
  • Service Details: Accessible service information, including source code links, Jenkins job details, scan results, tech docs, and more.
  • Deployment Management: Efficiently manage and deploy services, with quick access to linked resources and support channels.
  • Centralized Search and Navigation: A robust search function for quick access to vital information.

The idea behind the hackathon was to get new ideas (and coded contributions) from different engineering teams throughout the company and get a better feel for the problems our fellow developers needed Kazhoon to tackle.

Also, there is hardly a better way to increase the visibility of a new tool than launching a company-wide hackathon, isn’t there?

Teams from various parts of Infobip came together, and some were even formed ad hoc. Since our engineers work from different countries across the globe, they could participate both in-person and virtually. Pair or mob programming was the preferred mode of operation, and the OG Kazhoon development team provided guidance and support.

After 48 hours of intense work, each team presented their solutions. The judging criteria were straightforward:

  • Value for Users: How beneficial is the solution for our developers?
  • Originality and Quality: What makes the solution unique and well-executed?
  • Presentation: How effectively did the team present their work?

The results

Developers could contribute to Kazhoon in four primary ways:

  1. Widget on Component Page: Add a widget to a component’s details page.
  2. Tab on Component Page: Create a new tab on the component’s page.
  3. Global Page: Develop whole-page applications linked in the main menu.
  4. Create from Template: Design a wizard-like scaffolder for specific tasks.

Nine teams worked on different functionalities and they delivered big time, according to Luka Staudacher, our senior engineering manager and one of the hackathon organizers:

This was collaboration, innovation and focus put to practice! 9 teams that joined hackaton managed to produce 9 working plugins with in just two days, which brought 9 new features now available through portal – I would say time well spent!

“These are of course POC-level applications that can (and probably should) be improved further”, Luka adds, “but I was pleasantly surprised that all teams managed to produce something functional in a such short timeframe.

To be honest, I was a bit worried that most backend developers might struggle with the project initial setup and the frontend frameworks used, but with the help of prepared guides and live help from the team that manages Kazhoon everything went smother than expected. I think we proved that the model of multiple – and not just infrastructure – teams contributing to the portal can work in practice. We should definitely do hackatons of any kind more often, as it is hard to find time to think freely and innovate when you are busy with daily tasks.”

Winners all around

One team did take home the prize (hint: It’s a kazhoon!) and can keep this bad boy on their shelf:

However, we’re going with a cliche here: Everyone’s a winner! But it’s true when you’re hacking at an internal tool that caters to all company engineering teams. Kazhoons for all!

Jan 17th, 2024
3 min read

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