At Couchbase, we continuously explore new ways to engage developers in our community and create new spaces for sharing, learning and collaboration. The more engagement and participation we foster, the more our community can grow and thrive.
To this end, we are experimenting with a new type of developer workshop, which we co-host with customers to engage their developers. The aim is to provide a space where our respective developers can meet in person (where possible) and dive into the code together, building relationships and fostering a sense of teamwork and community. The two-day workshop offers, on day 1, a deep dive into our products and technology through interactive presentations and hands-on demos given by Couchbase developers, followed, on day 2, by a hackathon where developers apply and put into practice the learnings of the previous day.
We’re excited to share a short recap of our first prototype event, which we ran two weeks ago with our friends at Doctolib, a leading healthcare technology company based in Paris. The in-person event gathered about 50 developers, with about 10 connecting remotely.
Doctolib kindly let us use their modern offices at their headquarters just outside Paris. It was a logical choice because their developers were the audience. However, it was important to choose a well-equipped location for the workshop. This means a large room to fit everyone, equipment for presenters, break-out rooms (for the Hackathon on day 2) and access to good coffee!
Content is king
As we roll out more workshops like this, we’ll be tailoring the content based on the customer needs and how they use Couchbase. Session content needs to be co-created before the event. With Doctolib, for example, Couchbase Mobile and usage of some of our SDKs were important to them. Equipped with that knowledge, our presenters could pull together custom slides and demos.
The content proved to be very technical at this workshop. It was presented by Asmaa Damoh, Fabrice Leray, Stephane Lang (Solutions Engineers), and Sergey Auseyau, an engineer on our SDK team. Feedback after the event was very positive on the content and the presenters. However, there were definitely some learnings. For example, attendees expressed a desire for more hands-on time during the Day 1 sessions and less theory.
Mixing it up
Keeping focused on learning all day is tough, so on Day 1 we made sure to break things up with some interactive and fun activities.
During the sessions, we used a tool called Slido for an interactive Q&A. Using primarily their phones, attendees could write their questions anytime. We would put them on-screen at the end of each session for the presenter to answer. The response was overwhelming to this. We had more questions than time to respond, so we had to follow up post-event with written answers.
When all the sessions finished, we had a fun interactive quiz with excellent prizes, including an Oculus Quest 2 headset. Again we used Slido with this, and using the nice integration with Google Slides, we were able to project questions on-screen, giving limited time for people to answer on their devices. Being able to show the leaderboard as we progressed introduced a nice element of competition!
Lastly, after a hard day’s work, we provided attendees and organizers/presenters alike an opportunity to unwind and get to know each other personally. The social event took place at a small venue close to Doctolib offices and started at 7pm, about an hour after the workshop finished. It was a relaxed atmosphere on a sunny evening. Pizza and drinks were served. There was good attendance from participants and Couchbase staff; the conversation continued until midnight. Social events like these are an opportunity to deepen relationships and hear things not expressed during the day.
The Hackathon was a full-day activity where ten teams of five were formed and tasked to develop a prototype feature for Doctolib’s mobile offering. The teams quickly got to work and came up with some very promising and operational ideas. The aim was to pool everyone’s creativity, technical expertise, and fresh learnings from the previous day to develop concrete solutions to an existing product need. Each team pitched the project ideas to the engineering and product leads for a final vote at the end of the day.
The entire exercise was a huge success, garnering active participation and engagement across all ten teams and, most importantly, generating a working prototype for Doctolib’s mobile app.
As an experiment, the event went really well and we gathered lots of important learnings to continue iterating and improving future events.
The first observation and key to success is that collaboration is key. Along with the members of the Doctolib team who helped pull things together, this was a true cross-team collaboration with members of the following Couchbase teams being present or involved in organizing:
- Sales team
- Solutions Engineers
- Field Marketing
- Shared Services
- SDK Engineering
Without such collaboration, the event would not have been as much of a success as it was. Last but not least, we worked with a fantastic team of engineers and product leads at Doctolib in the planning and design phase of the event. A huge thank you to them!
The post-event survey results were very encouraging for an experimental event. The event scored 4 out of 5 from 41 attendees who filled it out.
Edem Aziahome, a Senior Software Engineer at Doctolib, shared this with us:
“The Couchbase workshop and Hackathon was very well organized, and really engaging. The hand-on demos during the Hackathon was the highlight, as it enables you as an engineer to really understand how Couchbase works and how to integrate it into your already existing application. I would recommend Couchbase to any engineer looking for a database with in-memory speed, SQL familiarity, and JSON flexibility.“
- Great presenters with deep technical knowledge
- Live demos were really useful
- SQL++ was the most popular topic
- Interactive Sli.do tool worked really well
Some constructive feedback for improvements included:
- A lot of the content was theoretical, it would be useful to have even more hands-on examples
- Great engagement during the Q&A but not enough time to cover all the questions – need more time
- Skip the marketing slides in the opening session – after all, we’re talking to developers :-)
Equipped with what we learned, we plan to iterate to do more workshops like this with customers across the world. This template worked well and we can build on the feedback to deliver more impactful community events. We already have a few workshops in the pipeline in North America, Europe and Asia. We can’t wait to run them and help developers get more from Couchbase!
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