Inspiration

I used to work at Google and found that starting new jobs at the company meant you had to learn a large number of new processes. Ideally, someone showed you how to do this, but often a few days later I would have forgotten how to do it and was embarrassed, this matched with a more remote workforce and sometimes I was doing things with trial and error. I wanted there to be a way for an 'expert' to record the steps to do something, and then a new hire or someone who needed retraining were then taken through as if the person was sitting behind them showing them how to do it.

What it does

Merlin Guides is a Browser Extension (Chrome & Edge), which allows anyone in an organisation to record how to do a process just by doing it once themselves. We monitor every click, input, page change...etc, and then they can customise what the user sees at each of these inputs. Then someone doing that task just has to click on the extension and is taken through step by step with bubbles, ensuring they do it correctly and inside of the right application.

How I built it

It uses a MEAN stack Backend (MySQL, Express, Angular, NodeJS), and grunt to build the extension. Because libraries can be inside of web applications, the extension is pure javascript and has no dependencies (in essence we built our own framework for it)

Challenges I ran into

Many!

  • Locating the element on the page
  • Working in multiple browsers i.e. Before Edge had Extension Support
  • Not conflicting with what is happening on the page
  • Strange ways Browsers act with eventlisteners and anchors

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

It works 98% of the time! Being able to detect what a user did, and then be able to play that back i.e. finding the same element on the page which may not have an ID, or the same class, is a tough technical problem but we have got our algorithm pretty close to getting there!

What I learned

There are many ways people have set up their sites, as such, we had to build Merlin to self report when it failed. This has allowed us to redo our algorithm so that it works on more and more sites.

What's next for Merlin Guides

We are planning to create pre-built guides for all of Microsoft's software as well as raising a seed round in February.

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