In case you didn’t see it on my Twitter page, this year I was part of the team that took the first place in the Rails Rumble Hackathon. Our app, RefactorCop, managed to gather 735 points which made it the most voted entry in the competition.
The Sunday before the Hackathon weekend
That’s when we had our first team meeting. Maarten, who I already knew, contacted me a few days before, but Sunday evening was the first time ever I’ve talked to the other two team members, Dale and Anthony. And not even in person, but on Skype. Being a kickoff meeting not a lot of things were decided. We made a Google Docs document for everyone to write their app ideas and we scheduled the next call for Wednesday. That’s pretty much how the evening ended.
The 2nd meeting
It was even shorter than the first one. Maarten had this idea about an app that would scan open source code on Github and return a list of issues for a certain project. This way, anyone interested in contributing to open source would be able to discover code that might benefit from improvements. He even had a name for this app – RefactorCop.
It didn’t take long before we decided this is what we’ll be working on. How we’ll be working was not really a problem either: I was in charge of design and front-end while the others would do the rest: setup Heroku, code Ruby on Rails, configure Rubocop, integrate my HTML and CSS, etc. We even had a place where to work. Anthony put his famous garage at our disposal. The guys accepted, I sort of declined. Moving my iMac seemed a bit of a hassle, but I promised to visit them on Saturday, so we can talk better. Fun fact: I found out that Anthony’s house is within walking distance of where I live.
The Hackathon: day 1
Starting earlier on Saturday morning, the first idea I had was to use the newer Robocop style. But as I was arranging the elements on the screen, I realized the theme was a bit dark, maybe too “robotic”. So I thought I should try something else, spend a couple of hours to see if I can come up with something else. This time I chose the classic Robocop as a starting point and went for a friendlier color scheme.
Once I had the two half of homepages ready I put them on Skype and went to the garage to talk to the guys. By the time I got there they already had a favorite. This helped a lot because in the next hour we managed to establish what other information will be displayed on the homepage and how many more pages need to be designed.
So I returned to my iMac, got the front page design finished and began turning it into HTML code. Which I had ready around 12PM. Not longer after that I went to bed. The other guys kept on coding tillmorning.
The Hackathon: day 2
Again, I woke up early in the morning and as soon as I did I just started putting some color and setting the fonts on the wireframe we drew a day before in the garage. By the time the developers woke up I already had the project page designed. We decided it was OK, so I began writing the HTML and the CSS.
Later, in the evening, about 6 hours before the Hackathon ended I went to join the crew in Anthony’s garage. At this point we were just polishing things, fixing bugs, adding last minute features, pretty much enjoying the whole thing. An hour or so before the deadline “Code Freeze!” was declared and we ended the Hackathon with a glass of bubbly.
I would like to show my appreciation to the Rails Rumble organisers, the sponsors and all the people who voted for us. Thank you!