Coding Night #4

The dream team…

In November, BlaBlaCar hosted its 4th internal coding event: 24 hours of non-stop coding, whatever the project, whatever the technology. Just code from Thursday 2pm to Friday 2pm. It was amazing to see how highly involved all these teams were to transform their great ideas into working projects

Why?

The idea of running a coding event is not new at BlaBlaCar, as this edition was already the 4th one (and yes, the 4th was with us…).

The concept is based on 4 main ideas:

  • Unleash creativity: everybody can propose a project of any kind, linked to BlaBlaCar or not.
  • Mix teams: everybody can choose whom to work with from any team…
  • Create ownership, thus allowing people to “think it, build it” and make it available to “use it”…
  • Have fun!

It’s also an opportunity for non-tech people to get close to the BBC technical ecosystem, participate and learn a bit more about development. And why not generate interest in becoming a developer? Who knows…

Principle

The day before the event (on Wednesday), we start with a 2 min pitch of each and every idea. People can even present ideas they will not develop themselves (because they could be mobilized on another project), but it can be owned by someone else. So it’s time to shine and recruit the talents needed to shape your project! We ended up with 17 proposed projects with teams of various sizes: from 1 single-person team to 6–7 people.

Waiting for the pitches…

For this 4th edition, we set a theme and printed t-shirts ensuring it was a unique night, we handed these out during our kick-off, we were initiated… ;-)

“There is a very fine line between pleasure and pain…”

And because :

Creativity comes from constraints — Biz Stone (Twitter co-founder)

every project had to include a nut somewhere (seasonal effect, I guess…).

We also declared 4 categories to be able to define 1 winning project for each of them at the end:

  • The most Fun (in reference to our “Fun & Serious” value)
  • The most Serious (idem)
  • The most Ready-to-use (in reference to our value “Done is better than perfect”)
  • The most Useful/Wanted (in reference to our value “Think it, build it, use it”

…and here we go!

Starting on Thursday at 2pm, people could start working on their projects. 24 hours of loooong coding…

Thanks to the support of our Office management team, we enjoyed some refueling along the way…

Have fun

Spending this moment all together should obviously be punctuated with some outstanding moments, so we organized as well some animations to put some rhythm in the night:

  • Beaujolais nouveau tasting (with saucisson sec)
  • Some video games on PS4
  • Some movies were projected in a room if you needed to have a break
  • Some 1min sport session were organized as well to pump your lymphatic system…

And finally… The demos!

On Friday, at 2pm, after 24 hours of intense work, we can finally demo our projects in front of the entire company in our famous Village area. We ended up with 13 incredible demos:

  1. BRAD (Body Remedy for Acute Drowsiness). A #slack bot to invite you several times a day making 1 min physical exercise to pump your lymphatic system (mainly to automatize and make choice of exercises easier). 
    This tool is now used on a daily basis internally.
  2. WWIYBA (Wait, Where Is Your Bench Again?). A service to let people find where their workmates are sitting in our offices.
    This tool is now used on a daily basis internally.
  3. Anywhere. A way to mix ridesharing and train transportation to reach your final destination in the most convenient way.
    Maybe a future feature?
  4. Fog Off App. An app to discover a city like you discover a map in a Real-time Strategic game, little by little. It allows you to see your vicinities and where you went through the city.
  5. BlaBlaStrike. A map of the famous “Counter Strike” FPS game to model entirely our Paris offices and play within it. We also tried to do it with the Unreal Engine 4.
  6. T.E.S.S. (The Expert in Such Situations) is a voice recognition system that will help you solve puzzle games like “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes”. It uses the official handbook to help fou find the good way to escape…
  7. The Testing Platform, is an enabler that makes us monitor and follow-up A/B tests we can have on BlaBlaCar (inspired by an AirBnB equivalent system)
    Maybe a future tool for us?
  8. racket! A noise controlling Anything… You can strike a ball or shuttlecock in various games using noise… Now it’s finally OK to scream at your computer… ;-)
  9. So Gra Nu (BlaBlaCar Social Graph in a Nutshell). Use Graph database to highlight connections in our community and try to reinforce trust between our members.
    Maybe a future feature?
  10. BlaBlaInbox. A tool to be able to see what our users sometimes answer to BlaBlaCar when they receive SMS notifications from us and potentially help them.
    This tool is now used on a daily basis internally.
  11. Sexy Error Pages. A new design for our 404 page, entirely animated…
    Maybe soon on our website, and even more… ;-)
  12. BlaBla Ping-Pong. An electronic device that detects if there is any player in our ping-pong room. No need to get through the entire office from your desk to see if the room is available!
    This tool is now used on a daily basis internally.
  13. BlaBlaNutwork. A DataViz tool to show on a map all trips and how far you can go from a particular departure city.
    Maybe a future feature?
  14. BlaBlaNav. This project was an opportunity to test a navigation SDK inside our app to improve the user experience all along the ridesharing experience.
    Maybe a future feature? Who knows… ;-)

Remember? We then had to vote for all projects using 4 different criterias. And the winners are:

  • The most Fun: racket!
  • The most Serious: BlaBlaNav
  • The most Ready-to-use: WWIYBA (Wait, Where Is Your Bench Again)
  • The most Useful/Wanted: BlaBlaNutwork

Congrats to all people involved in those 14 projects!

Conclusion

This 4th edition of the Coding Night has been a success at different levels. First, the projects by themselves: very original and very qualitative. Second for the energy added by each and every participant for finishing the projects. And last but not least: the pleasure we had to do this all together to make this moment unforgettable…

For sure we will have a 5th edition… Stay tuned and let’s meet in a few months!

Coding Night #4 in a nutshell

  • 17 ideas pitched at the beginning, but 14 projects presented at the end (including 3 new ones)
  • 117 attendees in total
  • Around 40 attendees stayed all night long
  • 20 pizzas
  • 350 sushis/makis
  • 35 healthy salads
  • 35 fruit salads
  • 4 bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau and 2 saucissons secs.
  • Unlimited happiness… :-D