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HTB’s First (Action-Packed) Engineering Meetup

A breakdown of the engineering problems we tackled, lessons learned, and experiences shared by HTBs engineers from our first Engineering Meetup in June!

mrblackeye avatar

Jun 28

We had our 1st Engineering Meetup at Hack The Box (HTB) from the 6th-10th of June! Our goal (apart from team bonding) was to improve our engineering skills by expanding our HTB Domain Knowledge and learning more about our platform's vision. 

The meetup was split into 5 Boosts (a boost is a set of presentations and labs): Engineering, How We Work, Innovation, Domain Knowledge, and Team.

In this post, I’ll share a summary of the engineering problems we tackled and fun activities the team enjoyed throughout each Boost/day.

Day 1: The most important “Lab” of all 

The team gathered at our vintage offices to meet each other, work, get settled, and attend the Empty the Fridge Lab. The goal of this Lab was obvious but not trivial:

Attack the fridge of our HTB headquarters and drink all the beers!

Day 2: Unit testing and API testing

After an extremely warm reception from our C-level, we started with the Engineering Boost, a set of presentations, a Lab, and a sharing experience discussion. The key mission was to focus on development testing. Specifically, instead of doing only manual testing, we wanted to find the proper way to start automating the testing we do as engineers. 

As an example, when we try to extend an existing component with some more functionality, we have to refresh our page dozens of times trying to ensure that a piece of code works properly and the area around our work is operating as intended. 

To mitigate this problem, we decided to use a combination of unit testing and API testing to be used for both frontend and backend work. On top of that, we decided to use Sonarqube not only for static analysis but also for enabling quality gates in the near future. 

Day 3: How We Work and Innovation Boost 

Continuing the Engineering Boost, day 3 covered security tips and tricks, performance patterns, and the key technological differences among our projects focusing on increasing awareness of our engineering team. 

We also had our How We Work Boost, a presentation and Lab focusing on predictable software development and how we will be approaching it to enable better forecasting and decision making. 

We closed the day with the “Innovation Boost”, a session focused on key innovative products we are working on currently and are in the proof of concept (POC) phase plus an Idea Jam Contest, a workshop during which the engineering teams present innovative ideas that would make their day-to-day lives better.

Day 4: HTB Domain Knowledge Boost 

The 4th day was dedicated to an HTB Domain Knowledge Boost for both existing staff and new engineers to minimize overall knowledge gaps. (Several new engineers have joined our growing team over the last 6 months.)

Firstly, we held team presentations explaining:

  • What each engineering team has done in terms of product features since the beginning of the year

  • What they plan to do by the end of the year 

  • Best practices and key improvements from an engineering perspective 

Secondly, we organized an internal capture the flag (CTF) contest. This gave all engineers the opportunity to use HTB and hack and learn by playing. It was a real success!

Day 5: Team Boost (and Laser Tag) 

Day 5 of the Team Boost was all about having fun as a team! We relaxed, played laser tag, and enjoyed a great team lunch.

Laser Tag - HTB Engineers

Hack The Box has always supported remote working, and in fact, encourages it in order to ensure our team can balance their work and home life. 

That said, being around the awesome Engineering team for an entire week was so worth it - the teamwork, the knowledge sharing, and the act of seeing those who are usually on the other end of a conversation on Slack in person was amazing.

The world has become a different workplace in the past 2 years and will continue to change, but I like to think that Hack The Box has found the perfect balance between remote and on-site working. 

Our team and company rock. I could not imagine being anywhere else. Here's to the next Meetup!”  - James Hooker, Chief Technology Officer

Hack The Box Founders

“I am very proud of how far the team has come in the last 5 years. Originally just a few HTB players volunteering from home, we now have multiple offices across the globe. 

The entire time we have managed to maintain a truly amazing team that can't really be compared to any other place I have worked before. Every person I work with is extremely dedicated and passionate about what they do, and it really shows. 

There are not many companies at this scale where everyone arrives at the office with a smile on their face. I can't wait to see what the next 5 years bring.” - Alex Reid, Software Engineering Manager

That wraps up the summary of our 1st Engineering Meetup at HTB! 

It’s safe to say that it was a successful and productive event. We sharpened our skills as engineers, expanded our HTB-specific Domain Knowledge, and most importantly, had a blast working, learning, and playing together as a team. I’m excited for the next one! 

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