Alexander Panknin on 23.04.2015 at 10:08h CET
Last week saw the return of what is now a long-standing tradition: Innovation Week at XING. This was the 18th iteration of its kind and a vital part of our engineering culture. The idea behind Innovation Week is that five times a year the product teams can put aside their roadmap and spend an entire working week forging ideas they’re interested in. This doesn’t just result in new kinds of products (some of which are a little unusual), it also allows the XING platform to be improved upon and gives employees the freedom to explore uncharted territories and technologies. Many of the results of Innovation Weeks are related to existing products and have already been implemented on the live platform, while others are only used internally or just thought up to tinker with. Previous Innovation Weeks have so far given birth to XING Projects, the XING Beta Labs, two-factor authentication and a nifty internal room-booking system. It’s all about having fun trying out new things, which is why we have the following vision (thanks to Jurgen Appelo): “These days are meant to invite employees to learn and develop themselves by running experiments and exploring new ideas.”
Innovation Week gets under way with a kick-off session on Monday morning. Attendees can enjoy bagels and croissants while learning the agenda for the week, followed by the project trade fair. This is where supply and demand comes into play: although there’s an internal online tool for presenting projects to attract team members in advance, the project trade fair is the venue for making yourself known to colleagues who haven’t decided which project they’d like to work on. Once the teams have got together, it’s time for them to start developing anywhere they like and without any interruptions. (more…)
Uygar Sönmez on 07.04.2015 at 10:35h CET
On 29 January 2013 the news spread on the net like wildfire: Foodspotting, an app where users can recommend great dishes they discover during restaurant visits, has been acquired by the OpenTable online reservation service for 10 million US dollars.
Foodspotting’s meteoric rise began in September 2009 when Alexa Andrzejewski and her team attended the Women 2.0 Startup Weekend with the aim of working with other participants to turn a vague idea into a detailed concept. Their first prototype was born after 54 hours of brainstorming and drafting, and it was brilliant! The presentation of the prototype at the end of the event was so convincing that a small investor immediately offered the team financing to the tune of 5,000 euros. The first-ever version of the app was released at the start of 2010, after which it was nothing but a resounding success.
The series of events titled Startup Weekend was launched in 2007, which was later followed by an offshoot called Startup Weekend Women. This has always been a memorable event, and was attended by Foodspotting back in the day. Both of these events are so popular that they’re now regularly held in a number of places all over the world.
The idea behind these two events is that people from different disciplines looking to get into innovation gear meet up at the weekend to exchange ideas, work in teams, design and develop products, and launch startups. The Startup Weekend Women is primarily aimed at women looking to create a startup and present their ideas, but men are of course also welcome to attend and get involved.
Here at XING we’re really impressed by the creative energy that’s clearly tangible at these events, and we’re happy to be the main sponsor of Hamburg’s first Startup Weekend Women which will be held from 10 to 12 April. We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing about the ideas forged there over the available 54 hours, and we’re really excited about any promising concepts or prototypes that may come to fruition.
XING is giving away two tickets for developers – just follow the link to win free tickets: https://devblog.xing.com/everything-else/win-tickets-for-the-startupweekend-women-hamburg/
When we at XING in Barcelona decided to reorganize the product team and to make 5 teams out of 3 teams, we chose a different way for reorganizing them. According to our vision „For a better working life“ we chose to hold an internal job fair and to involve every employee in the upcoming reorganization, instead of making our decisions about the new teams behind closed doors.
Why a Job Fair?
Inspired by Michele and Jim McCarthy, who organized a job fair at Microsoft, instead of the usual sitting in endless rounds of meetings, we decided to do so on our own. A job fair is basically an event where companies set up brightly decorated information booths full of smiling recruiters, all trying to snap up talent. There are job fairs at colleges and universities for new graduates as well as industry or sector specific job fairs. But what convinced us to use a job fair format for ourselves?
The job fair format covers and supports the values we share here at XING and would be a great way to uphold those values such as transparency, trust, accountability and efficiency. Not only would we be transparent about the fact that new teams would be formed and what the teams would be working on, but also we wanted to send people the message that we trust them that they know best with whom they want to work and what they want to work on. We believed the group could put themselves in teams with minimal interference from us. An added benefit of being able to choose your own team is that because the choice is yours, you now are accountable to the team to make it work. It’s not so easy now to blame the other people on the team, or your manager for putting you on a team you don’t like.
How did the Job Fair work out?
After enjoying a breakfast together where everybody got to know each other, the kick-off began with an introduction from Gemma, our VP Engineering. After that each Product Owner was given 20 minutes to present their products/projects and other information such as they liked to work, and what they didn’t know yet and needed help figuring out. We asked all the Product Owners to make themselves available to answer any other questions people had about their projects.
Last weekend the Hamburg Geekettes and Open Tech school together organised the very first Hamburg Hackathon, and XING was proud to be the event’s main sponsor. More than 80 hackers from all over Europe attended the event held at the fantastic location called werkheim. The organisation was brilliant, and the top venue came with healthy food, fresh smoothies, and even a small pool for kids who came along to hack with their parents. The sun also put in a welcome appearance to really round things off.
The Hackathon kick-started with the motto “For a better working life”. Plenty of ideas were pitched, so then it was time to team up and they hack into the 16 ideas that were presented at the end of the event.
The energy, spirit, enthusiasm and passion shown by each and every participant was fantastic.
I had the chance to talk to a lot of people at the event, and I asked each of them why they come to an event like this. A common answer I observed was that they wanted to get to know the community, learn something new, and connected with people who have similar interests. A few of them also had unique answers along the lines of wanting to have the freedom of choice they get by developing something they’re passionate about.
XING as a company was privileged to support this event, because we believe everyone should be given a chance to work on something they’re passionate about. This is the culture we foster at XING, a typical example being our innovation weeks where every two months the engineering department takes a week out from their usual schedule to hack highly innovative ideas they always wanted to try out and then present them to the entire company at the end of the week. Once a year the entire company also gets together for 3 days to work on ideas aimed at shaping the future of XING, an event called the “Prototyping Days”.
In keeping with this, the Hackathon enables every professional to hack into whatever they’re passionate about, and we were very privileged to be able to support this event. We wish all the very best to everyone who attended.
XING has introduced new General Terms and Conditions. Today we’re sending our members all over the world an e-mail to the notification address they entered on the platform. Members we can’t reach via e-mail will receive the same information as a XING message.
Why is XING introducing new General Terms and Conditions at this time?
XING recently celebrated its tenth birthday. A lot of things have changed since our professional business network first went online in 2003. Back then, XING was known as “a private paid communication forum for arranging business contacts” in the previous GTC. Today, XING is much more than that. Long-standing users will in particular remember all the features we’ve added over the years. Recruiting via XING is an excellent example of just how far we’ve come as XING members have always shared job vacancies with one another on the platform. The last few years have seen the launch of all kinds of recruiting products for companies ranging from pure job ads to the Employer Branding Profile and on to the XING Talent Manager. And our members can also benefit from an entirely new kind of job ad that immediately shows the employee ratings for that particular company.
A similar scenario also arises with the events portal which, thanks to the XING EVENTS (formerly known as amiando) integration, XING members can use to organise events and manage their online ticketing processes. XING’s service portfolio has also grown drastically, and will continue to do so in the future each time we release product innovations. We therefore rewrote our GTC to create the best-possible basis for future developments.
Overview of changes
We’d like to take this opportunity to provide you with an overview of the changes to our GTC. If you have any questions about them at all, please visit the XING Community (German only) where you’ll be able to discuss the new GTC with other members and XING employees.
- XING is essentially a social network. On top of that, users have access to other applications such as XING EVENTS or kununu, the largest employer review platform in German-speaking countries. The terms and conditions for the use of these platforms have now been added to our GTC.
- An important aim of the new GTC is the prevention of spam. Our new GTC expressly forbid the use of tools, certain software and scripts that enable XING members to be spammed. Advertising and disseminating such tools is also prohibited.
- The data protection and privacy terms highlight the fact that XING members are at liberty to choose whether or not they want to share their personal details, in whole or in part. Any such settings can also be revoked at any time, meaning that users always remain fully in control over their own data.
- We have also incorporated a number of aspects that are already standard practice. Examples of this include the banning of logos as profile pictures to ensure that people are interacting with one another rather than simply using their profile picture purely for advertising purposes. Our new GTC also further emphasise that profiles may not be used by third parties. They also stipulate that XING does not fundamentally get involved in communication between users. The exception to this rule are groups moderated by XING or XING employees, such as the German-language “XING Community” or the group covering last year’s German elections. There may also be projects in the future where XING or XING employees get involved.
As described in the first point, XING provides its users with other applications. A visible profile is not required for every single application, such as with the “Contaxt” app. Here, users can log in with their XING profile, but the service is also available to non-XING members. In such cases, users do not need to have a user profile that’s visible within the XING network. This also applies to pure ticket purchases via the events platform and reviews submitted on the employer review platform.
If you’d like to see all of the changes to our GTC, please open this PDF file. We’ve highlighted the changes to make it easier for you to find them.
We would like to point out one final thing: As always you can object to the new GTC within six weeks of receiving our notification as per clause 12 of the old GTC. If you correctly object in good time, our old GTC continue to apply to you. If we don’t hear from you by the end of the objection period, our new GTC will henceforth apply to you.
In isolated cases, XING members have brought to our attention a warning message that appears while logged in to XING. IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KNOW: This warning message is not from XING. This is in actual fact a fraud attempt that, according to our current knowledge, operates from the user’s computer which is infected with malware. Please do not follow the steps described in the warning message.
How can I recognize this warning message?
In the warning message the fraudsters ask the user of the infected computer to enter their cell phone number in order to activate their allegedly blocked XING account. The user then receives a text message with a download link. They are then led to believe that following this link will install a piece of security software onto their smartphone, which can then actually infect the smartphone. Fraud attempts like this are, for example, described here: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/08/a-closer-look-perkele-android-malware-kit/.
Who does this affect?
The warning message has currently only appeared on computers that run Windows operating systems. However, it cannot be ruled out that this malware is able to infect computers that run other operating systems.
What should I do when I see this warning message?
With the situation as it is, we presume that the users’ computers are already infected with malware when this message appears. Users who are affected should immediately get their computers checked for malware infections. In the meantime, we recommend that users avoid visiting important online services like banking, shopping, etc., until the malware has been completely removed. If you have already downloaded the software onto your smartphone then this device will also have to be checked and cleaned up. We rely on your help in order to find out more and clarify this fraud attempt: Please let our security team know of any abnormalities or peculiarities as quickly as possible (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We would like to thank the two members who promptly informed us of this fraud attempt.
Roughly three months ago, Apple unveiled iOS 7 at the WWDC conference in San Francisco. XING’s iOS team was there and, like everyone else, surprised at the depth of changes that went far beyond throwing away skeuomorphic design elements and making everything flat. The design philosophy itself had shifted: In iOS 7, the user interface defers to the content. Subtle but sophisticated animations replace or clarify navigational elements. Typographical details become more important. And those are only the aspects the eye can see: The days following the WWDC keynote, we learned about changes and enhancements pertaining to the functional core of iOS.
Ready for iOS 7 within weeks
Enthused and fired up, we came back to Hamburg – only to realize that our roadmap was already booked solid for the upcoming months. There was little chance to get an iOS 7 version of our app out of the door by the time iOS 7 would be released. We then convinced our team and product manager that it’d be worth to invest a week for iOS 7 related research. We used this week to evaluate new opportunities for our app and to estimate the time and effort needed to implement them. At the end of the week we were convinced that we could get our XING app iOS 7 ready within a few weeks. And with ready we meant not only a visual adaptation but also the support of new features such as downloading new data in the background and dynamic font size changes. (more…)
XING Beta Labs have been in place for almost two years now, and it gives us an opportunity to present our members with various beta features that they can test. That way, anyone looking to put developmental features through their paces can go there, select the feature they want to try, then test-drive it and send us their feedback. XING Beta Labs were the birthplace of various features we currently offer on the platform such as attachments and the conversation view. But sometimes beta features don’t work out and they have to be removed to free up resources for other great ideas, which is why we’re going to remove XING Topics from the platform.
We’d like to thank all the members who put a lot of time and effort into test-driving XING Topics over the last few months. During that time we’ve been busy collecting and evaluating your feedback and performed a number of random tests which allowed us to find out what you liked about the Topics section (e.g. being able to add images and rank topics by popularity) and what you weren’t too keen on (e.g. layout of the posts). We always take your feedback into account when developing new features and products, and we’ll be re-using a number of the XING Topics features you really liked in other parts of the platform – so keep a lookout for them!
XING Topics will be available until 16 September. Until then you can still view your posts in the ‘your posts’ tab and copy and paste the ones you’d like to keep to a text file. Alternatively you can use the ‘copy and paste view’ button to copy and paste all of your posts in one go. After that date, all of your posts will be permanently removed, so if you want to keep them, please make sure you save them somewhere else.
As always, we’ll carry on working hard to boost your XING experience, so don’t forget to visit our blog again soon.
XING holds regular innovation weeks that give our developers an opportunity to tinker around with things and put their ideas into practice. Some of the results of these projects include things like the RSS import feature allowing you to import blog posts and to share them with your XING network. Now we’re happy to present you with another great innovation weeks feature that’s available from today. This feature allows you to use XING with keyboard shortcuts as you’ve most probably come across before in your daily work on the computer. This of course makes it both easier and faster to network on XING.
Here’s how it works
Keyboard shortcuts usually involve pressing and holding either the CTRL key if you’re a Windows user or CMD if you’re on a Mac. We don’t want to interfere with your browser’s own shortcuts, however, that is why our shortcuts always start by pressing and holding the SHIFT key. (more…)
Imagine you’re driving in a city you’ve never been to before to visit a business partner. You’ve probably used your address book or smartphone to get the address you’re going to and then entered it in your sat nav. But isn’t this process a bit over-complicated? Wouldn’t it be great if you could call up your XING address book in your sat nav and then simply select it as your destination?
This probably sounds like something from “Back to the future”, right? Well, at the moment it is, but it’s actually highly realistic from a technical point of view! That’s because XING is rolling out its API (Application Programming Interface) for external developers which enables them to build great apps just like the idea I mentioned above. (more…)