Recently, we conducted an experiment here at Clockwork HQ. Our theory: if we gave everyone at Clockwork a whole day to work on whatever they want, wondrous things would result. (Hey, it works for Google.)

So with that, we declared Friday, September 17th the first official Clockwork Lab Day, and unleashed the staff in the name of science.

Prior to Lab day we posted a doc where people could list their ideas for projects. When the big day came, we began with people pitching their project ideas; team members could join any team they wanted — or go off on their own to work on a solo project. Then we wrote, coded, designed, and even colored all day (with a short break to refuel on pizza.)

When it came time to kill the lights and lock up for the weekend we’d built two new internal tools, and a couple of mobile games.

Slydology

One team created Slydology, a mobile game that lets users build their own monster à la Dr. Frankenstein. Clockwork team members sketched the monsters, while others coded the game itself — both iPhone and Android versions. 

After extensive testing on assorted Clockworkers’ children, we’ve concluded that kids (and many adults) love making monsters. We’ve still got a little work to do on the Android version, but you can grab the iPhone version for free on the app store now.

Time Tracking Widget

Like any company, logging hours is everyone’s least favorite task. It’s a necessity, but it’s a pain.

TCS is our internal tool for tracking and billing project hours. While functional, it’s a separate web interface that’s sometimes too easy to forget about. It also doesn’t have a mechanism for tracking time spent (e.g “start timer” when you begin work on a task). Kevin headed up a team that created a desktop widget that allows team members to pull in their assigned jobs from TCS, run a timer to track the amount of time spent on a task, and log their time with just a couple of clicks. 

“Billing time is a chore for everyone in the company, so I’d been trying to think of a tool to simplify and improve it. Lab day gave me an opportunity to learn, grow, and handle a headache that had been bothering everyone at Clockwork.” – Kevin

DocUtils

Documentation is an essential part of our process, but formatting issues in Microsoft Word have been a constant annoyance, especially for developers. With that in mind, Selah and Jachin used the reStructuredText (reST) markup syntax to create a version of the DocUtils text editor specifically for our internal documentation needs. The more consistent formatting and simplified versionability will make internal processes more efficient, but a final version can also be output in client-friendly Word documents. A win for everyone!

“I’d been wanting to phase out the use of Word for internal documents in favor of plain text in the interest of more consistent style, simplicity, and versionability. Our dependence on Word has been a pain for a while now, and Lab Day allowed us time to work on the issue that wouldn’t have been available to us otherwise.” – Selah

We managed all of that, in just one day. No deadlines, no meetings, and no stress. We can’t wait for the next one!