Kicking off Momentum 2018 the Right Way: the Annual Docusign Hackathon  

As part of Momentum 2018, Docusign hosted a hackathon at Galvanize in SoMa, San Francisco this last weekend. From June 9-10, we joined forces with our two prominent sponsors, Salesforce and Google, as well as our Hack for Good partner, City Year, to welcome the nearly 200 attendees who put their skills to the test to compete for awesome prizes and bragging rights.

A few words about our Sponsors and Hack for Good Partner

  • The Salesforce Platform empowers developers to quickly build and deploy trusted cloud applications that are rock solid, secure, and scalable without worrying about hardware provisioning or application stacks. It delivers out-of-the-box tools and services to automate your business processes, integrate with external applications, provide responsive layouts, and more.
  • Google Cloud provides better software, faster. With it, you can use Google core infrastructure, data analytics, and machine learning. It is secure and fully featured for all enterprises, and committed to open source and industry leading price-performance.
  • City Year helps to close gaps in high-need schools by supporting students’ academic and social-emotional development while also providing schools with the additional capacity to enhance school culture and climate. City Year provides a powerful double bottom line: improved outcomes for students in high-need schools and the cultivation of the next generation of leaders through their alumni.

Salesforce, Google, and Docusign had technical mentors on-site to help hackers with their projects. These challenges were simple, but only in name, with four awards up for grabs:

  • Better Together: Docusign and Google: Hackers were challenged with building something meaningful that integrated these platforms.
  • Better Together: Docusign and Salesforce: Just like with the last challenge mentioned, participants who worked in this category built solutions integrating Docusign and Salesforce.
  • Hack for Good: For this award, hackers were building with the Docusign API plus Google and Salesforce and creating a solution specifically with City Year in mind.
  • Best of Show: It’s pretty straightforward: which hack was the best of the best? The winner of this claim to fame had the best overall submission, and could be from any of the three categories.

Before we discuss the winners and the amazing projects they completed, let’s take it back to the morning of Day 1. On Saturday, the participants lined up early outside the doors of Galvanize, eager to get inside and just get going. As they made it through the doors and to the right, they were greeted by an onslaught of City Year’s passionate Americorps members, who formed a welcome tunnel, clapping and reciting chants to pump up the hackers, while wearing their can’t-miss bright yellow City Year jackets. These awesome and dedicated women and men certainly set the tone for the event, and did so quickly, early, and loudly.

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Once the bulk of attendees had convened and had a bite to eat plus a little boost from the coffee bar, it was time to get things going. Aaron Liao, Docusign’s Director of Developer Evangelism, officially kicked off the event. After Aaron welcomed our two fantastic sponsors and our Hack for Good partner, he announced the challenges, and the hackers were off to the races.

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Throughout the first day, there were six breakout sessions. The first was an introduction to the Docusign API, led by Naveen Gopala, Engineering Manager at Docusign. We had a great turnout for this session (see picture below), which walked our hackers through the (newly redesigned) Docusign Developer Center and the main components of the Docusign API. This included walking participants through our simple, powerful REST API, SDKs, our LoanCo sample app, and code examples. In addition to Naveen, on-hand to answer questions were several Docusign experts and engineers, to help ensure hackers got off on the right foot.

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Our second session was a Google Tech Talk, led by Google software architect, engineer, programmer, and all-around cool person with great hair, Casey West. Casey, Architecture Advocate for Google Cloud Platform, gave participants a fascinating technical workshop about new Google APIs, covering what you can accomplish with them, and how they do their magic. Hackers were particularly enthralled with new artificial intelligence capabilities, all of which can be easily accessed on the Google Cloud Platform. Equipped with the Docusign APIs and Google’s natural-language and image data processing tools, hackers created thoughtful and interesting applications that solved real use cases. In one particular application, users authenticated their eSignatures using Google’s Cloud Vision API.

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Up third was our Hack for Good with City Year session. Not only did we have the Americorps members with us Saturday morning to kick things off with a bang, we also had reps from City Year at the hackathon the entire time, including Desireé Dugas, City Year’s Director of IT Programs, and Pete Settlemayer, both of whom led this session. They walked the hackers through the City Year mission as well as their tech status quo. Currently, there are a lot of documents being signed with wet signatures (we’d like to change that) and this requires more resources to be eaten up than is ideal, including paper, money, and labor. More efficient, paperless solutions to these tech hurdles were top-of-mind for Desireé, Pete, and City Year; particularly ones that can be accessible to the parents and families who are part of the City Year ecosystem.

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Hitting cleanup for breakout sessions on Saturday was a Docusign for Salesforce workshop. Led by Vineet Puranik, a Docusign engineer who works on the product, hackers were taken through the product, its features, and its potential integrations. They were shown the possibilities of storing and merging data and exactly why it’s the number one eSignature app on the Salesforce AppExchange.

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Then it was on to an introduction of Docusign Mobile. Thomas Dang, Senior Manager of Engineering, Docusign, and Divya Vangara, iOS Engineer, Docusign, took the helm for this mobile-focused session. They introduced the Docusign Native iOS Offline Templates SDK and then went over key Docusign terms for those who may not be fluent in the language of Docusign (envelopes, documents, recipients, tabs, templates, etc.). After that they walked through SDK feature highlights (sign and send template-based envelopes), hosting in-person signing sessions from within a customer’s own native iOS app (with support for offline), native UI components provided for iOS apps for those flows, template tab value defaulting, and event notifications such as, for example, “signing complete” and “envelope synced”. Lastly, they provided a live demo of downloading/integrating the SDK into a native iOS app’s codebase, connecting with a Docusign developer account, and the SDK sample app flows.

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The sixth and final breakout session of the day was perhaps the most powerful. It was our Women in Technology meet up, featuring some bold, inspiring, intelligent women from Docusign. Speaking to our group were Marie Huwe, VP, Developer Programs and Evangelism; Elena Cueno, Senior Manager, Engineering; and Caly Moss, Technical Program Manager. These three women come from different backgrounds, have diverse skillsets, and told various stories about their journeys to where they are now. A constant though is the paths they forged were consistently forward-looking and adaptive. Caly described her non-traditional route to where she is today; while she has a formal education, her college degree is not in engineering. She received no formal engineering training, but rather was self-taught before joining Docusign as a software engineer. Elena, on the other hand, arrived where she is through rigorous engineering studies, while Marie began her professional career in product marketing, then shifted gears once she fell in love with all things tech and developers. The session ended with a terrific Q&A, with questions on how to solve for specific workplace issues to employment inquiries with Docusign!

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One thing we were thrilled to see and experience this weekend was the diversity among our hackers. This group was diverse in gender, ethnic background, age, skillset, education level, and current professional status, with many professional developers and students participating.

 Below, a few of our favorite shots from this weekend of our hackers in action: 

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Now, what was the criteria for the hackers’ projects this weekend? We’re glad you asked:

  • Code-Complete: was the project finished? We only judged code that compiles and is ready to demo.
  • Technically Impressive: how well did the project express the core ideals of the challenge? Was it an impressive submission, given the time permitted?
  • Innovative: did the project use Docusign and the relevant sponsor software, and do so in a novel way? Or, did it just mimic something that has been done many times before?
  • Well Designed: did the project include appropriate style and branding?
  • Product-Market Fit: did the hack fix a customer problem or was it a “nice to have”?

Now, onto the judging and winners. We had a truly phenomenal panel of judges on-hand for this year’s hackathon, led by Tom Casey, SVP, Engineering, Docusign. He was joined by:

  • Heather Conklin, VP, Product Management, Salesforce
  • Desireé Dugas, Director of IT Programs, City Year
  • Melissa Frank-Huff, Sr. Director, Program Management, Docusign
  • Marie Huwe, VP, Developer Programs and Evangelism, Docusign
  • Robert Kapanen, Strategic Technology Partnerships, Google
  • Kiran Kaza, Sr. Director, Engineering, Docusign
  • Aaron Liao, Director, Developer Evangelism, Docusign

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And, a drum roll for your winners please:

Hack for Good Winner ($3,000 cash): Zahidul Islam of Team City Year 123

The primary goal for Zahidul Islam was to build an application that is simple enough for busy parents to be able to fill out a form in just a matter of seconds, but also be efficient for the City Year staff. For City Year, he envisioned something that enables them to simply take a picture of an existing paper form, and then the data gets uploaded and stored. He accomplished this using the Google Vision API to extract the data, which then gets loaded into Salesforce. The Salesforce tool also allows City Year to send one form to hundreds or thousands of parents/guardians/families simultaneously. When forms are sent to the specific email addresses via Docusign, the PDF fields where a student’s personal information is needed have already been filed out. The email address on-file is linked to Salesforce, which imports the info into a document. This way, the parent only has to visually scan the info for accuracy and simply sign at the end. Zahidul’s project definitely accomplished what it set out to do: utilize the Docusign, Salesforce, and Google technology, while improving the processes for City Year and its members and doing so in an accessible way.

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Better Together: Docusign and Salesforce Winner ($1,500 cash): Derrick Johnson of Team City Year Play

For his thoughtful and well-executed integration of Docusign and Salesforce, Derrick Johnson won this Better Together category by focusing on analytics. His project enables under-optimized schools to improve the at-risk student pipeline by better correlating student engagement and performance. Additionally, it enhances after-school programming enrollment, using analytics to improve parent/guardian targeting and engagement. Teachers or administrators can send out forms via Docusign, and once completed and received, the information relevant to those forms is stored in Salesforce. Those forms and their information can then be analyzed via a dashboard, providing information such as how many of the forms have been signed, allowing the appropriate people to take the appropriate action, with only the necessary parents/guardians/families. Derrick completed his submission using Python (in the Django REST framework), along with the Docusign, Salesforce, and Stitch Data APIs. He used the Ionic Creator and Google Data Studio web apps in conjunction with Google Big Query.

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Better Together: Docusign and Google Winner ($1,500 cash): Prathyusha Charagondla & Kate Xu of Team Kusuri

This all-female duo knocked it out of the park with their submission that integrates Docusign, Google Cloud, and Salesforce. Prathyusha and Kate were focused on a solution that helps to detect signs of depression in children. The Docusign eSignature API was integrated into a web app, where parents sign permission forms to release kids’ writings and the associated analyses of them to doctors and/or school administrators. Google’s Natural Language Processing API was used for sentiment and syntax analysis, which can help detect signs of depression. Salesforce then automatically creates a record in the school’s Salesforce dashboard to alert administrators and/or teachers. Prathyusha and Kate also utilized the Storage API to store raw files into an online database; Google’s Vision API for image to text; and the Datastore API to store machine learning results into a database.

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Best of Show Winner ($2,500 cash): Peter Ma of Team Accessibility Signing for the Vision-Impaired

Top of mind for Peter Ma was the over 200 million people around the world who have some sort of vision impairment. Peter took home the overall top prize from this weekend, developing a project that assists those who are visually-impaired to eSign forms and contracts with Docusign, utilizing the Google Assistant tool as well as Salesforce. A user is able to ask the tool questions, such as, “How many documents do I have to sign?” Google Assistant will respond letting the user know how many there are, provide a short description of each, and ask if the user wants to sign them. For those moments when the screen does need to be pressed, the Google Assistant provides a specific location on the screen so the user knows where the button is. For example, “Please press the finish button in the upper-right corner of the screen” is the prompt a user would hear at the end of the process. Once items are signed using via Docusign using the Google Assistant tool, everything is stored in Salesforce, including all of the envelopes. The technology used to make all of this happen was: the Docusign eSignature API, Google Cloud to store information of the user to know how many documents they have, plus Dialogue Flow; and the Docusign for Salesforce integration.

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In addition to the primary hackathon prizes, we conducted a drawing for a 3D printer. It was a LulzBot Mini worth $1,300 and went to Kate Xu, who was competing for Team Kusuri.

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This weekend’s hackathon was one for the books, as we had a great turnout and were in awe of the submissions we received. If you want to read more about it, you can find some of the details here, plus see a list of all of the submissions for the final round right here. If you’re in San Francisco (or can be) June 20-21, join us for our annual Momentum conference, with 20+ developer-focused sessions, great keynotes, and more. In the meantime, be sure to check out these resources for complete information and continual updates:

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