Hackathon #1 complete!
Well, that was pretty cool. And way more fulfilling than I expected it to be. I really appreciate order and planning in all projects, especially web development projects, and a hackathon has always seemed to me to be a little (or a lot) hectic as far as planning goes. But, after experiencing my first one this past weekend at The Iron Yard in Atlanta, I can say I was both right and wrong. Hectic? Absolutely. But planning played a huge part as well. Soltech sponsored the event — THANK YOU SOLTECH! — and when they pitched the three projects, they stressed to us that we needed to plan our MVP that night. And stick to that plan. So that’s what we did. I’m all about taking advice from people who are way more experienced than me.
Friday night at around 6:30pm we received our groups and the project. Our project, pitched by Santiago Gomez, was pretty awesome. We were to create a mobile and web application that could take photos from the user and add comic-like accessories (hats, capes, glasses, etc). Then the idea was to be able to save that edited image with the accessories and send to whoever you’d like. Here’s a look at what our final web application looked like after 24 hours of coding over a day and a half. On the front end side of things, we utilized Angular and a plugin called jCanvas that offers the perks of jQuery UI Draggable within HTML5's Canvas element. So cool!
We had a fully functional web application that could load images from our backend database (backend was Ruby), load accessories from the database as well, take you to a single image view where you can actually add all kinds of random accessories to your image canvas. Text was also available. And sounds!
Here’s another look at the comic strip view. Once we finished our MVP, we wanted to add another view so users could add multiple images and create more of a comic strip.
In both options, the user can reset their work if they need a different size item, or changed their mind. And when they’re done, they can download the image and send it via email, post on social media, or do whatever they want with it.
It was such a fun project to be on, so thank you to Santiago for that, and it was also such a fun experience overall. We had two mobile developers that also created an app that had similar functionality as our web application, and we had two Ruby developers that set everything up for us on the backend. Working in a group to get something done so quickly can be scary, but we worked together so well. Communication was key and we all made it a point to keep those lines of communication open. There were highs and lows the whole time, but having a working, final project was so gratifying.
Of course, we only had a day and a half, and we wanted to do so much more with our application. Style-wise I would’ve made some changes for better usability, and functionally, we would’ve loved to have been able to save each individual single comic and then been taken to a page where the user can choose which edited images to add to their comic strip. Also, a big addition would be to let the user re-size images and accessories once they’re on the canvas. We overcame that with the accessories by offering three different sizes for them to choose from, just to have something finished in time, but I would love to figure out how to let users resize them after adding them to their canvas.
We learned a lot about working in a group, precise planning, MVPs, and so much more, in this one weekend, which is a success in and of itself. But we also walked away with a functioning web application which tops it all off.
Soltech seems likes a pretty awesome place, at least from the few guys we met this weekend. They all seem to really love what they do, and love doing it for Soltech. I appreciate companies that are making an effort to give back to the community and help new developers grow. I’m looking forward to more hackathons!