On the 29th of November the developers had a day off from their usual duties to work on something completely different. Small projects with a short period of development constituted the Clear Books hackathon day. The only requirement was that whatever they produced had to be useful to the company. In the following lines you’ll find out what our devs did.

Payroll Mobile application

Hi I’m Adrian and for the hackathon I worked on developing a very basic mobile application for our Open Payroll software.  As we only had one day to work on hacking something together I felt that the best use of my time was an application which allowed you to view your most recent payslip.  The application consisted of a login screen and the actual payslip screen.

I haven’t had much experience with mobile app development, but Juan our mobile app developer was able to give advice and some initial help.  We decided to copy the same structure used by the Find UK Accountant mobile application. As a result I have become familiar with tools such as Backbone.js, jQuery Mobile, Handlebars and many many more.

Developer Test

Hello, I’m Tom and during the Hackathon I worked on updating our PHP developer test to ensure it remains up to date as technologies and best practices progress. The test challenges applicants to find errors in a PHP application.

Status Page

Hi I’m Ermos and for the hackathon I’ve worked on the “Clear Books Status” page revamp. The results can be found here: http://status.clearbooks.co.uk. This page shows the current status of Clear Books but also uptime. In addition, you can view historic data about the uptime and status of Clear Books dating back to July 2010.

Centralised phone control panel

Hi, I’m Patrick and for the Hackathon I wanted to build a control system for our office phones. We were in need of a way to manage our phones from a central location, rather than connecting to each phone for every system update. After reading up on the system, I decided to focus most of my effort creating the program required to link the phones.

Among other things, the system now allows us to reboot phones remotely and see their current status (available, away, engaged or offline). While there is still a lot of room for improvement, the time savings have already been worth the effort!

Pool app

Hi, I’m Edd and for this hackathon I updated our company pool app. The pool app has been serving us well for a while now in our Friday afternoon post-work tournaments. It was, however, in need of a rethink of the scoring ranking system along with various bug fixes. The current ranking system was causing a problem, as many of the people at the top of the table have since left the company which meant that new recruits would struggle to progress up the board.

During the hackathon, I introduced a new ranking system based on percentage wins so that it doesn’t matter how many games you have played. In addition, I added the ability to archive players who no longer worked for Clear Books so that the table became truly open and the the Pool King crown is available to even the newest of recruits.

Jenkins & Ansible playbooks

Hi I’m Juan and for the hackathon I wanted to do some improvements to our Testing server. In the last month I have spent time configuring our development environment using tools like Ansible and Vagrant, there are a lot of good reasons to do this.

My project for this hackathon was to improve “Jenkins”, the server that continuously test Clear Books code before going live. Recently we ran into some problems and found it very time consuming to find where the problem was. With the changes I made, it is now really easy to find issues and make the necessary fixes. This drastically reduces the time spent searching for errors and setting up new machines.

Quiz app

Hi, I’m Alex and in this hackathon I created a quiz app for our morning stand-up meetings. For the past few weeks we’ve ended these with a question from a pub quiz book – but the cumbersome process of looking up a question then finding the answer in the back seemed to be at odds with the snappy nature of the meetings.

So for my hackathon project I made a web-based quiz app we can use on a tablet, phone or PC to get a random question on a range of topics and reveal the answer straight away.

The questions are generated by the app based on data pulled from Freebase, a large collaborative database project covering a wide range of subjects – to add new topics all we have to do is write some templates for questions and let the database fill in the blanks. So there’s a potentially limitless range of questions and no way to cheat!

Posted by David Eaton

David is a Chartered Accountant and Director of SME Strategies (smestrategies.co.uk) which offers tailored support to ambitious SMEs and gives mentoring to owner managers.