Yesterday was the first London API Hackday, which was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.
The whole concept behind a hack-day is you usually try to build/create something in a finite amount of time. From start to finish, you’re pretty much going full speed until either food (or beer) comes along. It was a first for me, my team had all the components: @mikemackay as our back-end dev, with @stugoo and myself as front-enders. In my opinion, we did a damn fine job.
We had a few ideas of what to build, which would have been very smart choices if we actually wanted to put ourselves in contention for winning a prize. Instead, we built a real-time turn-based battleship game with internet memes. Completely childish, but fulfilling! The feature-point for the game is one that can be played real-time in the browser, or via email/sms notification any other time – your history being recorded at all times. The game-state is then reloaded when you return to the browser.
Go to an API hack day. Use no API’s.
The three of us were completely absorbed within our creation. There were panic attacks and bouts of tears as to whether or not we would actually be able to make something work. Eventually, everything started to work and I felt a little light-headed, although this might have been because of the entire platter of sandwiches I’d eaten.
Near the finish, it suddenly dawned on us that we hadn’t used a single API. This was at 17:55. We turned to Pusher first to try and get the real-time notification and updates working. As a credit as to just how easy Pusher was to work with, we had real-time notifications working by 18:05. That’s what makes it really exciting to be a web-developer these days, as we have open access to almost everything and all this data to play with. We can literally built anything, and tapping in to these API’s, build it very, very quickly.
In Mike’s words, the Hackday was a huge learning opportunity, not just for us, but for all the developers that took part to be inspired and to work on technologies which they may not necessarily have the resources for, or simply because of time-constraints (which we all have). It goes without saying that the spin-off for using these services is huge excitement for developers to use everything they’ve tried, which ultimately benefits the clients in the respective fields they work in.
I’d like to have a demo running now, but at the moment needs a little polishing and it would be rude to not at least include a few easter-eggs as well.
We used a BitBucket git repo for the collaboration, jQuery for the event handling and CodeIgniter for our game-API. Thanks again to my team for their code-mashing skills and for putting up with my sporadic, hysterical laughter. Here’s the Twitter feed for the day.
The list of sponsors included Twilio ➡ @stevegraham, SendGrid ➡ @timfalls, Pusher ➡ @leggetter, Mashery ➡ @amit and GoCardless who did a great job of providing the location, pizza, beer and prizes. Thanks again to these guys for an amazing day!