Summer Hack Week 2016: Airshippers Tackle Big Problems in Mobile Engagement

Twice a year at Urban Airship we participate in one of my favorite traditions: Hack Week. During the week-long event, participants — mostly from our Dev and Engineering teams — identify a need, create a project, pick their own teams and work together to build something amazing. It’s a great way to take a step back from our normal priorities and focus on optimizing and dreaming up what’s next. We’ve had some incredible projects come out of Hack Weeks over the years, many of which have ended up in our products.

Last week, during our summer event, SVP of Product & Engineering Mike Herrick and I sat down to talk about how Hack Week works, and how it became one of Urban Airship’s most cherished traditions.

I’m always impressed by how much the Urban Airship team accomplishes during Hack Week, and this past one was no exception. Here are a few of the projects you might find interesting:

Improving JavaScript Bundling Efficiency

Jesse Keane, lead engineer on our web team, experimented with ways to improve the efficiency of our JavaScript bundling, improving the speed of page load times in the dashboard. These changes will make a big difference to regular users of our Composer.

Push Notification Success Rate Analysis

Data Scientist Lisa Orr developed a new model for analyzing success rates of push notifications based on usage of the different features Urban Airship offers. Her demo also included some great visualizations of the models, so people on other teams could see how it worked.

Internal Automation Tools Refactoring

Senior Ops Engineer Tyler Yahn rewrote internal automation tools related to some of our AWS. What was previously a slow and far-too-manual process is now much faster and takes less handholding.

New Mobile Engagement Firsts on the Way

This is just a small peek at the excellent projects completed during Hack Week. Several other folks tackled challenges within our infrastructure, and others looked at ways to combine our public APIs to create new abilities our customers can use. And there are even a few that you will see popping up in our products in the coming months — but we don’t want to ruin the surprise.