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Update on Shopware's COVID-19 Hackathon

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So Shopware held a three-day hackathon, and it was awesome.

When I logged into the Slack workspace on Monday morning, I was greeted with this:

Your team’s now 106 members strong, with 4521 messages sent across 13 channels.

Granted, some percentage of this was surely memes and random stuff, but still… Wow. Thank you all for being part of this!

All related projects on github were moved to the org shopwareDowntown, so take a look around!

Current status

So where are we? Today (Tuesday, March 31 2020) the portal downtowns.io will be live.
But what features do you get?

Let me first show you what the registration page will be looking like. This is a design made by the gals and guys from the design team during the hackathon, so it may not fully represent what will go live first, but it’s what we’re aiming for in the near future:

German registration page

What comes after the registration, you ask? This is how everything works together:

  • An organisation (e.g. a city) registers within the portal
  • Organisations are created as a sales channel
  • Merchants register within the organisation, internally they are handled as categories
  • Merchants can use an App to upload products
  • Users (buyers) can browse their local merchants and see what’s in stock

A landing page is created for both the organisation and each merchant.

German organisation landing
German organisation landing

The parts so far

The whole portal is built on Shopware 6 using a customized production template!

The parts used by merchants and organisations to administer their stuff is an angular App using the Shopware 6 API.

The customer/buyers facing part is the Shopware 6 storefront.
The Shopware 6 Administraion is used by the portal maintainers, Shopware, for administering everything. God mode, basically. (Insert Spider Man reference here ^^)

You’ve already seen the landing and registration pages, now this is what the App looks in action:

Filling in product data
Taking a picture
Product is imported
Successful import

So the portal is functional, the App is there, what is next?

The next steps can be seen in the github issue list.
Don’t forget to check out the wiki for more detailed information!

The good, the bad, the ugly

Of course we gathered feedback from our developers on how they felt during the three days, and there was indeed one pain point: The whole thing didn’t feel like a hackathon. It felt like product development on steroids.

Why? Because everything was set in stone before the “hackathon” even started. So we definitely had a gap between expectations and reality here, since traditionally a hackathon is more like “do whatever you want, but make it awesome”.

So next time we should call it something different. Something that includes the word “Boost” maybe, because this is what it was. A boost from zero to going live four workd days later. I might have mentionied it already - but thank you everyone!

So what was good? Two major things were universally seen very, very positive: The communication between the teams and the work of the design team. They were referred to as the glue keeping everything together. That’s especially noteworthy because in a lot of other companys the design team is more like a bunch of aliens doing things with colors.

We could not have gotten this far without the help of our open source community, so let me stress this out: Thank you all for helping in this project. It is a big thing for local merchants. Really, thank you!

The next steps

In the original blog post I wrote something about dust settling on monday. That didn’t happen yet. We are still going full steam and because of that, things are evolving fast.

So the plan still stands. As soon as the base version is online we will onboard cities and other authorities, then add eCommerce functionality. Keep your eyes peeled, bookmark downtowns.io and check out the wiki on github.

It is crucial that we're able to win over further community support to make the project scalable to many cities and countries. We are currently talking with many partners to make this an actual open-source community project, outside of commercial interests. So if you think you can help, please reach out to us via mail, twitter, contact form, whatever.