Geckoboard Code in the Dark

Jack Hallahan
Jun 28, 2017 · 4 min read

On 21 June 2017, Geckoboard hosted Code In The Dark, an open-source event for people who think they know CSS.

How it works

In three heats of ten people each, our brave programmers stepped up to code a design they’d never seen before, in the dark, to electronic music. The three best coders from each round make it to the final, more challenging round, from which one ultimate champion of HTML and CSS is crowned.

Three heats and the extra-challenging final (gradients!?)

The whole exercise is harder than it sounds given the following rules:

  1. 15 minutes only
  2. No access to frameworks, Google, StackOverflow etc.
  3. No preview — all they can see is their code.

The night

Around 60 people filled our event space, munching on beer and pizzas. As soon as the first ten contestants started coding, the crowd gathered around the screens to watch the live preview of their progress.

There were some impressive coding skills on display, but the tough designs and the fact that contestants couldn’t see their code rendering also generated some hilarious errors. Who knows what might have been if not for a missing closing bracket causing most of the styles to not apply 😭

After each round, the crowd voted for their favourite designs with an app called Mentimeter. Each screen had an Emoji animal, and spectators cast their vote by choosing a 🐶 🐭 🐷 🦊 🐸 🐼 🐵 🐴 🐔🐱 in the Mentimeter poll.

The nine best programmers returned for the final, and the ultimate winner was Richard Westenra: a crowd favourite and undoubtedly deserved! He won a ticket to Half Stack — a local mini-conference here in Shoreditch. Second place prize was a Puck IoT device, and third place received a classic CSS is Awesome mug. Congratulations to all our winners 🎉

Congratulations Richard Westenra! (also featuring our happy host Dan)

Draw in the Dark

Throughout the evening we also ran a mini-game of our own creation — Draw in the Dark. Draw in the Dark might be a little more relaxed in nature, but no less challenging.

In this competition, attendees played the role of a web browser — taking pages of HTML and CSS we had printed off and drawing with markers to recreate an original design.

The original design the participants tried to recreate.
Participants were only given code — the complex styles were pretty challenging!

Draw in the Dark was harder than it sounds! Some of the submissions rendered the code worse than IE6. But in the end one clear winner emerged. Congratulations Denise Yu!

Denise Yu’s winning drawing. Congratulations!

Thanks to all who attended and competed in our first (and hopefully not last) Code in the Dark. It was an absolute blast, and it was great meeting so many talented CSS wranglers. We hope to see you at the Geckoboard offices again soon — be sure to follow us on Twitter to learn about any future events!

We mentioned it on the night and we’ll mention it again — we’re hiring. Check out our careers page to learn about our open positions.

A huge thank you to Dan and Klara who orchestrated the event, and thanks also to a long list of Geckoboarders who helped make it happen!

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Jack Hallahan

Written by

London-based product designer. I mostly just share things about design, product, startups and tech.

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Jack Hallahan

Written by

London-based product designer. I mostly just share things about design, product, startups and tech.

Geckoboard: Under The Hood

Stories, lessons, projects and insights from Geckoboard: a growing SaaS startup building live TV dashboard software to help teams get aligned.

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