Hackday VI: Caplin Tailor

Twice a year Caplin developers, designers and business analysts have the opportunity to down tools on their projects and work on an idea or concept of their own during a 24 hour Hack Day. The theme for this Hack Day was ‘Level Up Caplin’, designed to bring out ideas that can further improve Caplin as a business. Whether that’s for our offerings, efficiency or productivity – a task that was made all the harder by the Jägerbomb machine, Dance Dance Revolution Arcade, and motorbike racing throughout the night…

Ideas ranged from the useful; A news curator, an SMS based FX offering and more, to the incredible, such as a table tennis visualiser with the inventive idea of making Caplin seem more appealing to developers!

Our team, ‘Where’s my Vinh’ (an ode to our absent almost-team-member, Vinh Lam) wanted to solve a specific issue that our Sales Team face regularly. With the launch of Caplin Direct, Caplin are now able to provide fully featured, out-of-the-box FX offerings with low costs and setup time. In order to gain interest for these offerings, the Sales Team travel the world showing off the latest and greatest from Caplin.

To make these more appealing and applicable, two members of the Sales Team spend hours creating custom branded versions of each applications with various features appropriate for each of our clients specific needs. This creates a great demo, but the process takes longer than we’d want it to and requires developer time, something that is always in high demand at Caplin.

Thus, Caplin Tailor was born. Caplic Tailor allows a member of the Sales or UX Teams without development experience to be able to quickly personalize one of our offerings for a specific client. Using Tailor, any salesperson or UX designer should be able to open the application and be able to customise and brand it directly from with the application itself. This could then be demonstrated to the client, and in due course, be deployed to a server as a working application.

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the initial design for the theming/branding aspect of the hack day project. The Salesperson or UX Designer could edit all the main colours in the application using a colour picker, or by manually entering the hex code – useful when entering a defined brand colour. These colours then replace the existing colours in the application in one go, removing the need to tediously go through the whole app’s CSS to do this manually. This can then be demonstrated to the client, or deployed to the server for a more permanent release.

Some more expert users, who do have development experience, may want to exercise more control than these preset colour options. These users have the option to inject custom CSS into the application providing much more control over the look and feel of the application. Using both of these features, our team created two very different themes in almost no time at all; a Caplin styled version of the application, and in the spirit of the day, a halloween version.

Halloween Theme
Halloween Theme

The other main feature of Caplin Tailor was the ability to turn various bits of functionality on and off. Each main item of functionality gains it’s own sub menu in Caplin Tailors menu, each with further customising options. For example all tiles can be turned off, or more granular permissions can be applied such as turning off ladders, or only allowing one-way tiles to be displayed. These changes happen immediately, giving instant feedback to how the application is being tailored. This was achieved by creating a global service that utilized each components existing permissioning logic with a few tweaks to intersect its existing permissions with the status of the Caplin Tailor menu item. This means that adding a new or existing component into the Caplin Tailor menu is an incredibly simple process. This will give Caplin’s FX Motif the ability to edit the layout, allowing the Salesperson or UX Designer to customise the layout as features are being added and removed.

All these features should make making demos significantly faster and easier for our sales team. Not only will they be able to make custom demos, but Caplin Tailor’s modular design, allows them to quickly change their designs, even in sales meetings. If a customer decides, that they might be interested in Block Trades, just a few clicks, will drop the functionality right into the existing app.

We feel that this initial hack could be turned into a more fully functioning offering saving Caplin a lot of time while creating more appealing demos.

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