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The Winter 2017 Sentry HACKWEEK Roundup

Last week was Sentry’s winter HACKWEEK. Never mind that November is actually part of fall, we’re in San Francisco and are never quite sure which season it is at any given moment.

As the name implies, we took one week off from our usual work and instead hacked the hell out of the week, focusing on projects that might not otherwise see the light of day. Nearly all Sentry employees flew in for it, several from far flung locales like our Austria office (which is in Austin, TX) and down under in our Australia office (which is in Vienna, Austria).

Some of the projects were focused on improvements to Sentry itself, some were focused on making our office a cooler place to experience the passage of time, and some were focused on merely enhancing the celebrity of their creators. All of them were interesting, useful (to someone at least), and fun. And we’re not just saying that!

Fourteen projects were presented, with six winning one of our coveted awards. We were so impressed with many of these projects that they’ll get their own blog posts over the next several weeks detailing both their functionality and how they were built. Be on the lookout for those. Or don’t. That’s entirely up to you.

HACKWEEK trophies

Our coveted trophies

For now, let’s take a quick look at our winners, starting with our Best Overall Project, the ultimate in week hacking: Strut.

Best overall project: Strut

Team Strut poses with their trophy

CKJ and Matt

Who doesn’t want their own theme song that plays at work whenever they walk through the front door? Literally everyone wants this. Yet, for some reason, such a wonderful idea has previously only been successfully implemented in professional wrestling. This cannot stand.

Strut brings entrance theme music to everyone, playing a short music clip — pulled randomly from a theme song playlist you create using music from YouTube (Strut automatically downloads the song, converts it to mp3, and trims it to a set time you select) — as soon as you walk through the door. How does it work?

Strut leverages Google Cloud functions to handle events sent over from Lockitron (the app we all use to unlock the office door). When someone opens the door it sends off a webhook that hits a cloud function that validates the payload and says who the person was; we look that up in a database and broadcast that event over Google Pub/Sub where we can write consumers of that event stream in order to do stuff with the data, which in this case means playing an employee’s theme song.

Sound interesting? This is one of those projects we’ll be taking a closer look over the next couple of weeks in its own detailed blog post.

Value People: Get Lit

Team with most diverse skill/background set

Team Get Lit poses with their trophy

Kelly, Meredith, Chloe, and Dena

Get Lit is designed to work in tandem with Strut, using the same Lockitron and Google Cloud functions. What goes better with an entrance theme song than an LED board flashing your name to the office? Nothing. Nothing goes better with that.

This project was the only one that required both software and hardware. That’s TOTAL ENGINEERING. The Get Lit team was awarded the “Value People” prize because 1) it’s awesome and 2) their team was made up of two Support Engineers, our Dev Evangelist, and a Growth Engineer. That’s four people from three departments tackling two forms of engineering.

We’ll also write more about this one later as part of our expanded post on Strut.

Care Hard: Project SDK / Setup Wizard

Most complete, ready-to-ship project

Team Setup Wizard poses with their trophy


Sentry is very easy to set up, requiring only a few lines of code to get started. But consider this: what if it were even easier? What if, say, you could just go into Terminal and have a wizard do it instead?

One of several very helpful updates to Sentry that emerged last week that we hope to actually release. More on the technical details behind this project later.

Continuous Improvement: Public Demo Sentry

Most out-of-the-box, audacious goal

Team Public Demo poses with their trophy

Mike and Neil

If you currently want to poke around and get a feel for how Sentry works, you need to create an account. Sentry both looks cool and is easy to use, and we’d like to make knowledge of these two wonderful aspects of our product more accessible to people who don’t have an account. A public demo is a great way to do that, even if it would be fairly involved to properly show Sentry off in a way that we’d like.

Open Company: Make Brain Searchable

Biggest contribution to open source OR to helping internal teams communicate/share knowledge and resources better

Team Brain Search poses with their trophy

Sean and Adhi, plus Lauryn (not pictured)

What do we mean by make brain searchable? Is this some crazy Neurohacking scheme that was hatched after reading too many William Gibson novels?

No, it’s not quite so wild. Our internal knowledge base is called Brain. Previous to HACKWEEK it wasn’t searchable, requiring us to discover topics by scrolling through menus. Now it is completely and totally searchable. It may not surprise you to learn that this is better.

People’s Choice: Sentry Echo

Team Sentry Echo poses with their trophy

Evan P. plus Kamil and SK (not pictured)

If errors made sounds, what would those sounds be? And could those sounds (should they be found to exist) even be turned into self generated music whose notes and tone vary based on the type of platform that generated the error?

Turns out the answer to that second question is yes, something we never would have known without the work of our resident DJ Developer, Evan P. We’ll take a closer look at the inner workings of this project in its own post.

There were many other fabulous projects in addition to these winners, any of which could have won an award if the competition hadn’t been so intense. Among them: a Sentry chrome extension, a Kubernetes reporter, a triage graph that displays how good a job you’re doing tackling errors, a weekly update bot that we’re already using to keep each other informed of what we’re working on, directed user guides to help new Sentry users get started, a Sentry mobile app, an app that makes the images on our about page get into fights, and another app that turns an iPhone X into a shock-free taser.

Most of Sentry

Post awards ceremony

Sound like a good time? Check out our jobs page. Sentry hackweek comes around twice a year, so there’s plenty of time to get hired and settled in before the next one.

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