Client case study: CoderDojo
By Damian Beresford



CoderDojo is a global network of volunteer-led, independent, community-based, free programming clubs for young people. It was founded in Cork, Ireland, in 2011. Members, aged between seven and 17, learn how to write software code and to create websites, apps, programs and games. They become aware of how coding is a force for change in the world.



The CoderDojo Foundation issued a tender for the creation of the CoderDojo community platform, an all-encompassing online system called ‘Zen’ that serves the practical administrative requirements of the CoderDojo community.

Zen was intended to improve the on-boarding process for the registration of new organizers and clubs, and helps automate Dojo administration tasks, such as issuing tickets to coding events, managing ticket waiting lists and managing volunteers and attendees. It is also gives recognition to organizers, mentors and attendees through profile pages and the awarding of Mozilla Open Badges. It has a moderated youth forum and an adult forum. The platform also feeds back high-level statistics and reports to the CoderDojo Foundation on the CoderDojo community as a whole.


  • Community input: workshops were held during the discovery phase of the project where feedback was gathered from the CoderDojo community.
  • Rapid delivery: six month project time frame.
  • Security: compliant with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
  • Best of open source software: full, off-the-shelf open source solutions used for certain requirements.
  • Development community: participation in workshops and hackathons to help build development community around Zen.
  • Localisation from the start: Zen available in 14 languages.
  • DevOps first: fully responsible for infrastructure architecture and continuous delivery.


Challenge 1: lots of features, not a lot of time

Solution: a strong development team, working closely with the customer, short development and feedback cycles – ‘the nearForm way’.

Result: once the initial iteration of the Zen platform was completed, it was released under an open source licence, on time and within budget.

Challenge 2: numerous, sometimes complex third-party integrations

Solution: microservice plugins were developed for various external services.

Result: Zen successfully integrates with Salesforce, Intercom, various AWS services, various Google services, CrowdIn, New Relic, among others.

Challenge 3: off-the-shelf open source solutions

Solution: a combination of internal expertise and rapid prototyping to identify suitable open source solutions for part of the platform.

Result: the CoderDojo forums are using NodeBB, and the Digital Badges feature uses Mozilla Open Badges – both heavily customized for CoderDojo.

Challenge 4: creating an open source developer community

Solution: fast on-boarding of developers, following best practices from other open source projects, participation in workshops and hackathons.

Result: a vibrant open source community has built up around Zen as new features are added by the community. Localization was particularly successful, with the CoderDojo community providing full translation for 14 languages to date.


Today, Zen plays a central role in helping to run 1,000 Dojos in 63 countries. It has a vibrant development community and is continuously being enhanced and improved, both by community members and internally by the CoderDojo Foundation.

Key technologies

  • Amazon Web Services
  • Angular.js front end
  • Node.js
  • Microservices
  • Salesforce
  • Mozilla Badges
  • NodeBB
  • Google APIs

Client testimonial

​”What made working with ​nearForm great was their ​unique insights ​into the platform ​as both community members and as a leading software development agency. We found working with nearForm to be a hugely positive experience.” - Mary Maloney, CEO, CoderDojo

Mary Moloney


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