Blog

Making an Open Source Yammer App

This summer, we built an app for the Yammer platform called Find the Guru that helps Yammer users find experts in their network. We started building the app as a Hack Day project and recently published it as an open source example for other developers interested in the Yammer platform. Here’s the story of how it came to be.

Three months ago, I (Seulgi) joined Yammer as an intern. For the first two weeks, I spent a good portion of my time getting help from other employees with various subjects. Whenever I needed help, the first thing I did was to post on Yammer. Thanks to Yammer and my awesome co-workers, I would usually get a response within a minute or two. Waiting for the response for a few minutes was okay, but I thought it would be great if there was an app where I could simply type in the issue I needed help with and instantly see the list of people in my network who are knowledgable in the matter.

A month into my internship, the two-day long Hack Day began. I told my roommate, Vincent, who was also an intern at Yammer, about my idea and asked him to join. He agreed to work with me. Together we ferociously hacked away at Find the Guru for two days – I only slept for three hours, and Vincent didn’t sleep at all.

Seulgi in a Hipmunk hoodie and Vincent with a goofy smile. Taken at 4am on Hack Day.

Seulgi in a Hipmunk hoodie and Vincent with a goofy smile. Taken at 4am on Hack Day.

During the two days, we got the app’s basic functionalities working – a cool user interface, the manual entry of experts and specialties, and search for experts who were manually entered into our app. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to finish one of the most crucial features of our app, the automatic search. We were shooting for a feature where our app searches through your network and suggests experts based on our weighted-rating algorithm. However, we had to present our app unfinished when the time for judging came around – and it wasn’t that bad.

After Hackday ended, we continued working on the app. We spent about a month adding more features, like automatic search, and polishing our app. When we finally felt comfortable releasing it, we registered it on our company’s app directory and told our co-workers to check it out. We got a lot of positive and helpful feedback for what we had created.

We wanted not just Yammer Inc. but all other companies who use Yammer to benefit from our app. So we talked with the Yammer product team and made the app global. Now it’s available across all networks, so employees everywhere can spend less time searching for their organization’s experts and more time getting work done.

But we didn’t stop there. Since we wanted to empower not just other Yammer users but also other Yammer developers, we released the project as open source. We hope that other first-time Yammer platform app developers can use it as a guideline to get their ideas up and running. Open sourcing the app with Microsoft was surprisingly easy. We simply had to send the code over for a quick legal review, put our code up on Yammer’s public repository, and let the world know about our efforts.

This app is our first open source project, and we’re excited to get feedback. So please, feel free to visit our website and give us compliments or insults! After all, what’s Yammer culture without honest opinions?

find_the_guru_screenshot

The Find the Guru home page.