King: We’re Hack Again!

By James Glass, Xavier Gibert & Zuzanna Kruszczynska

On each Hack Day at King, we round-up tech gurus from far and wide with a creative range of ideas on how to improve the technologies and internal tools that we use.

Our recent Barcelona Hack Day event gave King employees a chance to take a break from daily work to collaborate and connect with new Kingsters.

It’s also where new product ideas can come to life!

From hacks designed around improving ticket features on JIRA, to increasing our time-efficiency using software tools. Some projects were just meant to bring Kingsters together from different disciplines while learning about other subjects such as Clojure.

The Winner! — Improving Filtro with KSQL

By Xavier — “Super Cool” Java Developer

This Hack Day project highlighted how Filtro could be improved if its backend was replaced with KSQL.

What’s Filtro?

Filtro is a logging tool to view and filter tracking events at King in development, QA, and live environments. However, when the user needs to transform/aggregate events, programming knowledge is required to create a Java/Groovy script. This along with the fact that tech incidents can and will occur were central reasons for building this project, as it would allow quicker response-times for solutions to the issues when they occur.

“… it supports a varied range of streaming operations, including data filtering, transformations, aggregations, joins, windowing, and sessionisation.”
Xavier proudly holding his trophy!

What is KSQL?

This is an open source streaming SQL engine for Apache Kafka. It offers a simple and complete interactive SQL interface for stream processing on Kafka. KSQL is scalable, elastic and fault-tolerant, supporting a varied range of streaming operations that are essential at King including data filtering, transformations, aggregations, joins, windowing, and sessionisation.

Normally to find any errors or anomalies, as a dev, you would need to write an RBEA script. The benefits of using KSQL for this hack project included: No coding, no additional analytics cluster, streams and tables as first-class constructs along with access to the rich Apache Kafka interconnected system.

The outcome — The project is in developmental stages; however, it works in terms of functionality and would need access to a properly configured environment in QA for example. A local test environment was used at the hack demo to illustrate how it could be applied to detect anomalies in the data.

The challenges — Working on a project that didn’t use Kafta and wasn’t prepared to process events was challenging along with trying to find something that was not only useful for developers but also useful for other users such as Data Scientists.

The future —Getting access to a UI on top of an API would further help this project move forward which could potentially help King detect incidents as they occur much quicker. The project still has a long way to go, however, the initial results have been shared with the product owner of Filtro at King so let’s see!

King — Hack Day Barcelona Video Snippet

Video Snippet of the Hack Day

Break Time Rocks!

Having lunch together is a great way to catch up with our co-workers and refuel for the remaining hours ahead! Yummy!

Hack The Community

By Zuzanna — “Top Gun” Junior Java Developer

This fun idea showed the connection between Kingsters who work together and the potential for social impact outside of King as well as to stimulate Kingsters to possibly produce some tech innovation around this idea.

A survey was presented to Kingsters as well as face-to-face interviews to find out what their experience and motivations were for volunteering. The results showed that the majority of Kingsters were interested in doing voluntary work for various worthy causes.

The outcome —Many people have approached Zuzanna asking how to get involved, how can they help using tech at King, to start making an impact. The project worked in the sense that the idea was put out there and it’s still attracting attention. We’ve created a starting point in the form of a Slack channel to start sharing initiatives.

The challenges — The main challenge was trying to gather a relevant amount of data in two days. People don’t love surveys even when they are very short. That’s why face to face short interviews were carried out. Some of the conversations got so interesting that it was challenging to keep them short! :)

The future —There is an amazing concept of Community Days at King and it was suggested by a lot of people to create a connection between the various projects. Due to time constraints, more focus was put on talking to people during the Hackathon but in the future we could organise Community Days combining our tech with charity organisations. It’s a starting point for helping others potentially using tech at King.

Let’s hack the community!

King Culture

King Hack Day

Hack Days at King support and nurture a culture of innovation as well as enhancing the friendly vibe throughout the Kingdom. We love to share tech knowledge while enjoying collaboration. A lot of thought is put into these ideas right from the initial conception to the final project. We’re amazed at the energy put into these projects and we believe in the great value of this work, and in sharing our culture of fun, tech innovation and friendliness.

We want to thank our Kingsters who took part and gathered together with their impressive hacks in just 48 hours!

Look out for an even bigger Hack Day event in January 2019 with more teams, more fun… and more innovative tech! Read about one of previous Hack Days here!


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