Yesterday marked the end of another spectacular HackDays at Shopify. HackDays is a magical event we have at Shopify once per quarter. Every employee gets the chance to pitch any project they want that will benefit our customers, ourselves, or our community. People join whatever project interests them the most and then they have two days to get together, design an MVP, and ship it!

HackDays is an amazing way to bring the people of Shopify together to explore radical ideas. The quality of the projects that people ship in two days always blows my mind. This year we had a mobile app that was built to provide great UX during crazy flash sales, an augmented reality app that could project products into the real world through your phone camera, and a pop up shop at the Ottawa airport — and that is only 3 out of around 130 projects.

Talk Devvy to Me

For HackDays 16 I decided to turn a blog post idea into a project. I had been thinking for a while about how the way developers speak can sometimes be nonsense to other people, possibly even intimidating. So I set out to create a reference guide that explains the software development discipline to a non technical audience.

This is important to me because Shopify has a large and influential engineering team. Tons of people interact with our developers but might feel left out of some conversations. It is easy for us, as developers, to slip into nonsensical jargon. To demystify what we do and empower people to feel confident speaking about programming, I formed a team of 9 awesome Shopifolk and we launched the reference guide in two days.

The project was named ‘Talk Devvy to Me’. I hope you enjoy it! Below are some of my favourite entries from the app.

Software development

Suft-war dee-vlop-mant

Definition: Changing stuff and seeing what happens.

Picture this: A crushing sense of existential ennui and failure followed by soaring, God-like confidence. This repeats forever.

What it is not: Knowing exactly how to solve problems with computers from the outset.

Link to definition

TDD (test-driven development)

tee-dee-dee (test driv-uhn div-ell-up-mant)

Definition: A way to write programs that puts testing first. The process goes like this: write a test -> the test fails -> write the part of the program you just wrote a test for -> the test passes -> review the code you just wrote and improve it (also called ‘refactoring’) -> repeat. You might also hear this process called ‘RED, GREEN, REFACTOR’ where red means the test is failing and green means the test is passing.

What it is not: A disease you might contract after a regrettable sexual encounter.

Link to definition



Definition: A decision to not implement a non-essential feature of a project so that you can produce a high-quality project faster.

What it is not: A description of someone who is small in stature but fights very vigorously.

Link to definition


Shout out and special thanks to my amazing team: Heather Button, Jonathan Eckmier, Emily Fan, Sarah Folkes, Vivienne Kay, Daria Kourilina, and Edward Ocampo-Gooding.

And thanks to Shopify for giving us HackDays.