Reflection of DeveloperWeek Hackathon 2016

I haven’t took the Muni for a while. I totally underestimated the time, missed a bus, and ended up way too late.

Not a good start.

By the time I was there, there is only about 10 minute before the main stage kickoff starts – wait, I mean I was late for breakfast.

What? Breakfast is a very important part of hackathon. Especially if you are a coffeeholic. Oh, coffee, my precious coffee.

*Cough*

The point is that everyone is there, chatting among themselves or the booth host, and I am still didn’t had my morning joe… wait, the booth is already set up this year!?

Well, at least I didn’t missed the food.

The main stage kickoff was late this year, and there were some momentary confusion about when and where it was to happen. It didn’t help that the attendees are split into 3 stories, with the lower story being the actual place for the main stage. I stalked checked up frequently on DeveloperWeek’s Facebook and Twitter account. Finally, someone came in to inform us that the kickoff is about to start. It was pretty much just each company introducing themselves and their Challenges, which was posted at Accelerate.im, DeveloperWeek’s website for the hackathon event.

The companies involved this year that caught my attention because they were either on Opening stage or holds one of the booth includes Galvanize, Codeanywhere, Concierge, Flowroute, HP, CapitalOne, Cortical.io, IBM, Intuit, Magnet, NetApp, RedisLabs, SparkPost, CloudBees, Weebly, and Shippo.

It would be way too long to go over each company. I may go over them in a later post?

The decision to come to the Hackathon was last minute, so I didn’t really know what Challenges there were or had a team. I met up with a friend, but she was in a team that uses Ruby, which I know nothing about other than the fact my favorite and very awesome food subscription box uses it for their website (Yep, I checked their job page. What? An internship with a food company would be awesome! Except they use Ruby on Rails. And they don’t need interns. *Sighs* By the way, the company is Love With Food. Great snacks, fun preview video, and they donate a meal for each box purchased. Did I mentioned that they are awesome?).

So, first task. Read Challenges and existing Projects. The Challenge from Shippo caught my attention quickly. I thought of the multiple subscriptions of magazines and boxes I have, and how nice it would be to view them on one site. But then, no one seemed to have similar Challenge, so I decided to wonder around the booth, attend the workshops, and learned more about the available tools. After all, learning was my objective this time. While several were interesting, none of them materialized into a web app idea in my mind like Shippo did. In the end, I posted my own Project online onto Accelerate.im. However, I think I might had been too late, and no one is looking to team up anymore.

Lesson of the day, start and decide quick in a Hackathon.

One of the workshop, IBM’s Bluemix, did caught my interest. It seemed like I could use it to build web app, where I could input my code for Shippo. However, in the end, it was in vain. There were several errors that I came across, and it wasn’t friendly enough for me to create a login system in 24 hours. In the end, I became too obsessed with it and wasted time.

Another lesson learned. In hackathon, do not obsess over non-essential problem.

I did created a PHP class to extract the information given by Shippo’s API. I used WordPress and its numerous plugin for user registration. But by then, I realized I wouldn’t finish on time. I took too much time with IBM’s Bluemix, and there were also some issues with the WordPress plugins. I could do an all-nighter to make up for the time – except I had a volunteer project due and a dinner party for my dad the day when the Hackathon ends. I did not want to fall asleep for either of them for a project that I will either not finish or finished very roughly. Promised responsibilities comes first.

In the end, I turn of my laptop and went to bed. The idea is there now. Even if the hackathon had passed, I still got a project started that I plan to finished after my current EduGarden app, so not all is lost. Plus, this way, I get to make a much more complete project, which is much more satisfying for my perfectionist side. My current EduGarden app is being done with a focus on secure programming practices and an aim of learning PHP MVC. While EduGarden is made to work fine in both mobile screen and even without Javascript, my second app – now title SubscribeTrack – will probably focus completely on mobile usability with an aim to learn css3 media queries.

The current project of SubscribeTrack is now on Github without the WordPress codes, temporary placed on hiatus until EduGarden is done.

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