A couple weeks ago, the launch of the YC company SuperPowered caused a stir: "$10 a month for a calendar widget.. ?” “Has YC lost its way…?”
True, from the website it looks like not much more than a button to launch a Zoom meeting from your calendar, but it’s still easier than finding the calendar tab in your browser, finding the meeting, and launching from there. Making that process less cumbersome can have an outsized effect on how it feels to work remotely.
Remember when you would see people walking into a meeting room and you would get up to join them? How do we make it that easy?
When I saw this post on Hacker News, I wondered how easy it would be to build something like that. We already had a popular Google Calendar integration that updates users’ statuses when they are in meetings to help their teammates know when is a good time to chat. The data that we were getting from Google already included the information we needed (zoom links), so all we really needed to do was match the URLs with a regex, send that structured data to our macOS client and render a button.
Without going into too much detail about the Google Calendar API, we identified 3 fields that might have videoconferencing information from the events response: conferenceData, description, and location. Here’s an example request pruned down to the properties we care about:
Since we know our customers also use Google Meet, and it wasn’t much more work, I decided to scrape that data as well. I used regex matching to find Zoom and Meet links in the location and description text fields, then if we didn’t find anything there, we would look in the structured conference data. After that, the conferencing URI and a string enum to identify the platform (Zoom or Meet) becomes part of the event data which we send to our macOS client. If a calendar event has video conferencing details, we render a button to help you join that meeting.
The button will show up 5 minutes before your meeting starts. Once I had an internal build that the team could use, it was not long before someone asked if we could also have buttons to open documents linked in calendar events, so I extended the feature to scrape links for Notion, Paper, and Drive docs.
If you’re interested in trying this for yourself or with your team, simply download Remotion. It’s free! This was a fun hack project and I’m hoping it makes remote work a little easier. Please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any feedback or suggestions.