Over the weekend, I travelled to Birmingham for the first Summit Awesome Hackathon - 24 hours of energy drinks, burgers, snacks, and web development. It was a hell of a weekend, and I'm excited for future events.
What exactly is Summit Awesome? Well, briefly put, we're a collective of web designers and developers looking to build exciting things together, make friends, and have fun. We're open to newcomers, and we'd love to have you at the next event. Follow us on twitter to keep up to date with our activity.
So, what exactly happened at the hackathon? Well, we all got together at Birmingham Science Park to build 2 products:
Everyone loves checking in to places. Everyone loves being social about where they are. However, sometimes there are situations when you don't want to check in to a local shop, restaurant or brothel. You really don't want to bug the hell out of your followers with thousands of updates. So here comes Project Sixteen, allowing you to log in to cities or towns (or potentially even countries!), and automatically see local events, news and maps. All tailored to your location!
Developers and designers work on a lot of side projects, most on a Friday night after a tiring week of work - no idea why! Normally people throw an image, or link on various community sites such as Dribbble, Forrst or Twitter, but that isn't always your final polished project. Enter Project HIM, a simple community that allows you to build up a portfolio of completed micro-projects, either alone or as part of a team. Follow a fellow developer or designer, scout for potential employees or just marvel in the amazingness of some of the things people make.
Neat huh? Although unfinished, you can check out Project Sixteen (AKA Citee) - the project I was working on - right here.
What I learned at Summit Awesome
Teamwork is awesome
I've very rarely worked in a full on development team before. During University, I was in a team of 5 people for a project. That didn't go very well. The workload was very unfairly split up. During my work placement, I worked with other people, but not in a team - I mainly worked with them acting as clients (but easier to work with since I had great creative freedom than I'd get with freelance work). So working in a team on Citee was a breath of fresh air to me. I had the job of branding and some wireframing, CSS, front-end work etc, and everyone else had their own jobs, too - whether it was project management, backend development, API development - the work was split and divided off to those who enjoyed it. I loved that. I could get used to it.
The iPad is perfectly capable
I took only 4 things with me to help me work - my pen, a notebook, a keyboard, and my iPad. I've been working solely on my iPad for the past 2 weeks or so - only occasionally jumping on a desktop computer to mess around in Photoshop. Summit Awesome was no different. I managed to connect to a remote server, version control any files I edited on the server, create branding for the site, and a bunch of other stuff - all on my iPad. The only thing I had any real trouble with was not being able to do any local development. That's it. The iPad is a perfectly capable machine for creating a website.
Preprocessors still suck
While we were working on Citee - much to my despair - we used SASS for most of the styles. Once again I found that the sheer number of files generated by SASS, the repetition of styles, and the over-specificity of generated styles highlighted the problems I've always had with preprocessors. I didn't work much in the SASS files themselves, but I can't say that working with a preprocessor made the project any easier.
24 hours is a long time
Too long, maybe. Too long to work productively, anyway. I definitely needed more sleep. I got about 90 minutes of sleep over the 24 hours we were there, and if I'd had more I would have been more productive. I also think if those who din't sleep at all had even got just 1 hour of sleep, we'd have been more productive overall. All nighters suck, folks. But it was still a lot of fun.
There will be many more Summit Awesome gatherings - hackathons, drinkups, and more - in the future. Be sure to follow us on twitter to keep up to date with our movements, and if you think there should be an event in your area, be sure to let us know.