Although Belgium spans less than 0.006% of the entire landmass on earth, it sure is large enough to ensure the most frequently asked questions within Hyperion Group are about current whereabouts. On how we solved this issue with a bit of coding and a little tool called Slack, a day in my life as a project manager.
09:53 — Being stuck in traffic usually means catching up on everything that’s already happening on our central hub of communication: Slack. Or Slacks, as our group supports over 10+ companies, thus multiple workspaces. Unfortunately, reading messages means being online, which leads to variants of a question I get asked multiple times a day:
“Where are you? Can I contact/call you? Are you coming in today?”
The answer obviously depends on my current location, and both parties in this brief conversation know that if there were a tool that could tell them where I was, this would be a lot easier.
11:03 — Calls, meetings, mails and chats nibble away most of the morning, and while taking a small break I once again complain about a lack of knowing where everyone is. Sure, calendars work fine, but aren’t really my go-to tool to have a good overview.
12:28 — Sure, I could’ve stayed at Kontich, but Deliveroo won’t bring those tasty Veggie-burgers to me, so I’ll have to fetch them myself!
Did I mention the companies within our group reside at multiple locations? There are two spots in Antwerp; one in Kontich, and another one in Ghent, but I’ll get to that one later.
House of Innovation is my lunchspot for today. Colleague Mante and I discuss Scott’s tool (which is a perfect solution for most) but as our Wifi-networks have the same name on all our locations, it won’t work for us.
Unfortunately, although having a lot of expertise in web development within our group, Mante nor I know how to code Ruby.
Scratch that; we don’t know yet! Eager as we are to find a solution, we spend the rest of our lunchbreak (and a small part of our afternoon) quick-learning the basics of Ruby and integrating yet another cool tool called CoreLocationCli. Voila; by the end of the day, we have a custom solution ready: Our very own Slack-location-status fork!
17:13 — We’ve surprised both ourselves and senior developers around us as we managed to make this tool work and have our Slack-status updated wherever we go, based on a textual string being matched against our current location.
You heard that right; it works! All it needs is some configuration, a Macbook and some magic, and from now on, everyone knows exactly where you are (Well, Facebook already did, but I meant everyone on your Slack).
21:09 — Home at last. All of my status-changes today happened automagically when logging in on my laptop, and no whereabout-questions were asked! Today was a good day.
So how did we pull this off?
By now you’re practically begging me to share our tool with you, and you’re in luck: it’s online and to be found on Mante’s Github! If you’re confused, you probably should ask a developer to help. ;)
In short: we made use of a core-library called “CoreLocation” which uses nearby Wifi-networks to translate your current location to an actual address, and allows you (via a config-file) to define which location maps to which status.
TL;DR : We learned the basics of Ruby 😎
Also, we made a working automatisation tool that updates your Slack status based on your current Macbook-location.
👉 Feel free to use at own will, we made this for us, ánd for you!
👉 Share feedback whenever you like, we’re always interested in your pull-requests, issues or comments.