As a developer at gap intelligence, one of the coolest things we get to do is participate in what we call, "Dev Days". Once a month dev gappers get to work on anything we’d like to (within a certain set of rules of course). It's kind of like a mini hack-a-thon where bright ideas come to life. The project you work on does NOT have to be directly related to the business, although a lot of times it does. You can team up with with a fellow co-worker, or roll solo. Participation is not mandatory, but c’mon now…why would you say no?!
Our awesome SCRUM Master, Michelle Nation, blogged about Dev Days a few years back. You should check it out!
One of the Dev Day rules is that you don’t necessarily need to write code on that day. Developers can also choose to self-improve if they’d like, which can include reading a book, learning a new technology, trying a new programming language, listening to podcasts, etc. Basically, anything that can sharpen your skills as a developer.
For my last two Dev Days, I’ve chosen to learn how to program using Swift, which is a programming language used for creating iOS, OS X, watchOS & tvOS apps. I found this awesome Swift tutorial & made a cool little War app. Here’s a screenshot:
At the end of each Dev Day, the squad invites everyone in the company to attend the Dev Day Demo so we can show off the cool stuff we came up with. The demo is very important to the success of Dev Days as this allows others in the company to give feedback, which is huge here at gap. From this feedback, these ideas can grow into very useful tools or products that the company can benefit from.
There have been a handful of Dev Day success stories over the last few years. Some of these have been mentioned in past blogs. Check em out!
- The "Golden Ticket" to Sharing Season Tickets Without an Office Brawl
- Take it to The Störhaus
- Dev Swag: Planning Poker with Rails 5 and Action Cable
But those are just a few of our successes. One of our latest successes is our HighFive web application, which initially started out as an internal tool for us gappers to manage and track our yearly goals.
It is now a tool which is used to track goals AND to manage our quarterly self-reviews.
Here is another success…a bug tracking system for our many applications!! We have a lot of projects at gap, so this has become a nice tool for us to see any bugs across all of our awesome tools!
Our gap intelligence Dashboard (available to all clients) has a Market Intelligence reports widget, where you can filter down reports by category. Well thanks to Dev Day, clients can now can perform a search to find these reports, making it even easier for our clients to find reports that are relevant to them.
Heck…we even have a big time money saving Dev Day project that was a huge success. A fellow team member spent his Dev Day reviewing our entire development infrastructure, trying to find ways we can cut down on our cloud bills. Like many development shops, we leverage several cloud providers, like Amazon Web Services & Digital Ocean. After extensive research, he was able to cut down our bill almost in half!! Awesome stuff right there if you ask me!
To wrap up I would like to say that I personally LOVE Dev Days! It empowers us developers to be more creative and innovative and that's a HUGE win for all of us at gap! If you work for a development shop, I highly recommend implementing something like this. As a developer, its a great change of pace and you get to create something without restrictions and can be free to take it anywhere you’d like.
I can’t wait to see what else we can come up with in the future!!