Hackathon Experience: 36 hours to build an App
In the several last weeks of my boot camp class, my friend, Alyssa E Easterly, asked me,
“hey Ray!! Would you be interested in entering this hackathon as a team?? It’s Feb 5–7th https://hackville.io/.”
I have never attended a hackathon before, but I know participating in a hackathon will be tiring. We only have 36 hours to finish our application, and I cannot imagine how we can finish an app only for 3 days. Our project at flatiron usually took at least a week to finish. However, I love to be challenged and have a new experience attending a hackathon.
We can make a team of up to four people, but we knew the capabilities that we were newbies. Therefore, we should find other people two other people. I asked my brother, Clarence, who is in Indonesia, and Jacob Kagon. There was a problem on the day of the hackathon. We almost failed to join our first hackathon because we did not get any email from them, but luckily we also registered for another hackathon, which is uOttahack.
I don’t have any ideas what should we build in this hackathon, but Alyssa with her brilliant brain, came up to create an app to appreciate coronavirus frontline workers. The idea of the app is really simple. The app could create a virtual card that we can share the link to front-line workers, and people could see all of the cards that have been sent on the home page. I came up with the name of the apps called Love4Heroes.
Alyssa E Easterly, Jacob Kagon, and I just had experiences building applications with Rails for the backend and React for the frontend. However, my brother recommended us to build the app with Next.js + Firebase. We don’t have any experience with that, and our time was only 36 hours. Could you imagine that? Fortunately, my brother could set up the project quickly, so it was easy for us to follow the flow of the structure. Even though building an application using a new stack is challenging, we realized that maybe we can’t finish it if we were using rails and react.
Next.js + Firebase is so helpful for this project because we don’t have much time to create backend API. Utilizing Firestore cut much development time, and we can focus on the front-end. Next.js gives us zero configs for our router, so we don’t need to set up a react-router in our project like in react project. That’s why this stack helped us to finish our apps in 36 hours
I learned many things from this hackathon that is not only coding but also time management. The hackathon required us to post our project in the devpost. The jury provided an assessment based on our devpost project as a pitch, and we must prepare a short video about our apps. That’s why managing time is really important. Fortunately, I have a little experience of video editing, and Alyssa E Easterly usually creates songs. Therefore, we could handle our simple pitching video.
Attending uOttahack was a really great experience. The hackathon experience showed me that I still need to improve my coding skill, especially in web responsive development. I stumbled a lot in that part because I need to understand the basics of CSS, or I can’t fix the problem. I got motivation after joining uOttahack, and I will focus to get a better understanding of CSS. Anyway, we have never expected to win this hackathon because we just want to get some experience. However, in the end, we win a challenge from Deloitte, and we were so happy because that is our very first hackathon. I really recommend you to try to join a hackathon to test your skills and grow your networking. Thank you so much for my incredible teammate!