Office Hack #41 — Runnable’s Deploy Hack
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You know when you tell someone you’re going to do something and you think they’ve heard you, but they really haven’t? And then when you do the thing you told them you were going to do they freak out because they weren’t ready for it.
Today’s hack was inspired by that very scenario.
Runnable is a San Francisco based company that specializes in helping developers catch bugs and test their code before being released. Even though they’re a small team of just over a dozen people, communication between them can sometimes break down. This is how today’s hack was born.
Anand Patel works as a programmer at Runnable. When he’s about to deploy a new feature on one of their services, he makes sure to send out a wide sweeping message to all team members, in case the deploy negatively impacts another area of code, or in case colleagues simply aren’t ready for it. But Anand noticed that his team mates didn’t always pay attention and one time it almost caused a problem for a client. So Anand decided to try something no one could ignore. Music. At full volume.
Yes, Runnable’s office hack is a blast of music. But it’s more sophisticated than it sounds.
Anand, and now other team members as well, spend time searching for songs that match, or relate to, the services they will represent. For example, a message service that is always running was assigned the song “Chariots of Fire”. The user management service, the company’s biggest service, was assigned “Big Poppa” by B.I.G. The deploy song for a time-based service called Chronos is “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.
You may wonder, as I did, why this team can’t rely on Slack messages or other forms of messaging for these deploy announcements.
“First of all, we get a lot of Slack messages and you kind of tune them out after a while. This is probably the most important thing we do here; where you have to stop what you’re doing and say, “Oh hey, we need to look into this now and make sure that this [deploy] goes correctly because our customers get affected if something doesn’t get deployed correctly.” Then the second part, I think it’s just kind of fun honestly. It’s fun hearing songs. … it makes it fun to push code and see what’s going on in the company and who got their feature out.” Jorge, Engineer at Runnable
At the Runnable office, you’ll hear anywhere from one to four deploy songs in an average day. Some songs definitely put staff more on edge than others. Like Rick Ross’ “Push It to the Limit” as it represents one of Runnable’s oldest and sometimes problematic applications.
“That’s the one where if something is going to go wrong, something’s going to go wrong when you deploy that. Everybody, usually when they hear that song they’re more on their toes.” Anand, Programmer at Runnable
The only hiccup in the implementation of this office hack? Music, for the sake of music, can be confusing.
“Yeah, we would all hate on the person who would just play a random song for no reason. It’s like, “No, this is a very specific meaning and you are not following it. Shut it off right now.”” Jorge, Engineer at Runnable
How to hack it
Want to hack together your own office music system? At this point, there’s not much to it. Simply find songs that match the announcements or services you want to ensure are not missed, and turn up the volume.