Developing the Shared Backgrounds App as a Zoom Intern
Shared Backgrounds, the third in-house-built app for Zoom, is coming this fall! It was developed by seven interns working on the Zoom Apps project over the course of the summer. While still being finalized, the Shared Backgrounds app will allow for easy sharing of organization backgrounds and collaborating on a virtual background database with your coworkers.
Zoom Apps enrich the Zoom experience and enhance the meeting workflow to increase productivity before, during and after a meeting. It was launched in July 2021 and there are already 50+ published Zoom Apps in the Zoom App Marketplace today. Here is a closer look at our experience building an app for Zoom from scratch as interns, and a quick recap of the app features.
Developing Shared Backgrounds
As a team of seven interns, we were tasked with finding and building new ways to enable our users to more comfortably share and utilize backgrounds in a meeting. Using resources from the Zoom Developer Platform, we had 10 – 12 weeks to build the best app for Zoom Apps we could build. I served as the product manager for the app, while product design and development were managed by our six beloved software engineering interns.
With the feedback we received from internal user research, we decided to focus on allowing members of an organization to actively collaborate on a virtual background database maintained by our app. Convenient upload and delete flows on Shared Backgrounds are going to replace previous workarounds, such as sending an image through chat or email and uploading it through the Zoom client settings.
Specifying the product requirements, designing the product on Figma, and developing the actual app was easier said than done. With most of us working on our first-ever real-life project that could touch millions of people’s lives, we had to design each component and write each line of code with the utmost care. Thanks to the support from our mentors and full-time Zoom employees, we learned the best practices of agile software development and processes in a very fast-moving environment.
Shared Backgrounds Features
The Shared Backgrounds app will introduce new features to more effectively collaborate with your coworkers:
- Upload Background: With just a couple of clicks, select an image file from your local computer to upload to your organization’s background repository.
- Share Background: Send an image in your organization’s repository to the participants of a meeting as an invitation. When viewed, the invitation will take them to a screen where they can see the image and set it as their background.
- Collections: Create collections of images to better organize your organization’s repository and enable your team to quickly find the backgrounds you use the most.
- Revision History: See the actions taken by your coworkers on a revision history page through the settings. It is great for keeping members accountable for their activities on the app.
- Single User Accounts: You don’t have to be a member of an organization to use Shared Backgrounds! Just install the app and use it as your personal repository. You can also share backgrounds you uploaded with other people.
Why Zoom for your Internship?
When our managers first assigned us this task, they knew that it would be challenging. They didn’t give us answers, and in return, we received tons of exploration, discovery, and personal growth. We got to make our own decisions and shape the app and its features in any way we thought was best. They made sure to support us when there was a roadblock that we couldn’t find a solution for, but most of the time the problems were handled effectively by the intern team.
Our managers and coworkers trusted us. There were plenty of mistakes along the way, but these mistakes were often the most valuable part of the experience as they prepared us for what was next to come in our careers.
Using Zoom Apps
We would love to get your feedback on the Shared Backgrounds app as well. Just go to the Settings tab on the app and click on the Give Feedback button. We are looking forward to your comments and suggestions!
With many thanks to the Shared Backgrounds interns…
Narmada Ravali Namburi