Three apps. Four weeks. When Codegeist 2020 was announced for the first time since 2017, Comalatech decided to go for it in a big way. We’d like to think it paid off, with our team winning prizes for all three apps, and launching one of them to the marketplace. Here’s our experience from Codegeist 2020.

What did we create?

The three apps we submitted were Comala Checklists, and two versions of Comala Read Confirmations, one built using Atlassian Connect, and one with Forge, Atlassian’s new platform for developing apps for the cloud. Comala Checklists let users quickly add checklists right into Confluence Cloud pages, while Comala Read Confirmations lets you assign teammates to read pages, and track who has confirmed reading them. Not only was the team able to put these apps together in four weeks, but they also released Comala Read Confirmations to the Atlassian Marketplace.

Claudio Cossio, Comalatech’s Cloud Platform Director, recalls the inspiration behind the project, “Our initial goal was to build only Forge apps, but since Forge is currently available only to developers, we wanted something customers could use. Codegeist was a chance to push our team and the technology to deliver a production-ready app, even in such a small window. That put us to the test, to know how solid our skills were for developing and designing Atlassian applications.”

Several team members were involved in the hackathon, including three people working full-time, and part-time support from our CEO, a UX designer, a QA tester and marketing. Since Comalatech has employees in Spain, Canada, and Mexico, this also meant the team would literally work around the clock. “We had to coordinate between our developers in Europe, and the business and strategy team in North America,” Claudio says. “It was kind of like a relay, because at the end of the day when the Bilbao team finished their work, North America would pick it up. It was fun, even though there were a few long hours.”

What did we learn?

One big advantage of joining Codegeist was the opportunity to practice building with Forge, which is still in-development. “Atlassian was really transparent about the current limitations, and open to suggestions for improving it,” Claudio says. “When you’re working with new platforms, there’s stuff even the platform owner hasn’t realized or understood – the unknown unknowns. They were very responsive, and it shows that they’re committed to the cloud. It’s an invaluable opportunity for a company like ours, to work side by side with their developers.”

Naiara Martin, one of the key developers who participated in the hackathon, was also excited at the chance to build apps on Forge. “I had already used this technology in an internal hackathon held at our offices this past winter, and I was very impressed to see how much it has evolved during this short period of time. I can’t wait to see what will it be capable of once it’s ready for the market.”

Besides the technology, Claudio also found it a useful exercise in focusing on value. “When you’re building an app in such a short time-frame, you have to leave out some features you would have put in a normal product-building cycle. That was a good way for us to understand how to limit the scope, but also provide a clean canvas to improve the application beyond the Codegeist phase. You learn how to provide value – and you also get the chance to understand your teammates better!”

What comes next?

With the hackathon over and Comala Read Confirmations out in the wild, the team is celebrating their wins, while looking towards the future of Forge and the cloud.

“It’s always good to win something, of course,” Claudio says, “But even though the prize is a nice gesture, for me it’s all about knowing we have a team that can ship production-ready apps in four weeks. We have the internal processes and expertise for this kind of endeavour. That shouldn’t be taken lightly or underestimated. We’re in an industry in constant change, and the team needs to be ready for those kinds of challenges. That’s what I really enjoyed about it.”

Comala Read Confirmations is only the latest cloud app from Comalatech, along with Comala Document Control, Document Approvals and Comala Boards.

“It’s all about scaling the team to the organization’s requirements and challenges,” Claudio explains. “That’s one of the big bets Atlassian and vendors like Comalatech are making – that cloud has that potential to be the platform that can adapt quickly to the changing environment and context.”