I’m on the train home to Gothenburg after a couple of superfun days in Stockholm!
On Wednesday evening we(me, Staffan, Daniel and Anders) took the boat to Yasuragi Hasseludden together with about 120 other internet geeks for the second 24 hour Business Camp. We all had a great evening with delightful food and marvelous bathing in the hot springs at Yasuragi! Thursday started with presentations from the sponsors and it was really interesting to see that the sponsors put in much more support or funding this time than last. The whole 24 hour concepts seems to have matured and caught a much bigger interest this time. Though the whole comradeship and openness which I like a lot was still very present!
At lunch on Thursday it all started with 24 hours of frenetic coding and building. The rooms was filled again with almost tangible energy which is a great drug to help that sleep stay away. Compared to last time and to my experience from 24HourSormland we did a lot of things right this time! I’ll try to recollect the most important ones here.
Agile development – we decided to have 30 minutes development itterations. Problems became visible quickly, everyone in the team was aware of how things developed etc. At times, specifically late in the morning the iterations became a bit longer, about an hour each and things started to slow down. It’s hard to tell when to stop for a short sleep break. We gave up at 6 in the morning and slept for 3 hours for a final burst until 12.
Many developers – On the last 24hbc I was alone and on 24HourSormland we were four people but I was the only developer. This time we were three developers and it was so obvious how much quicker things got implemented! Also problems was solved much quicker since if we found out that someone had been stuck on one problem during an iteration all three of us could try to solve it! And we could provide each other with new perspectives on the problem as well.
Clear concept and finished idea – when going to Yasuragi we had most of the interaction with HiThere ready. The application flow had been decided in advance, everyone in the team knew roughly how it was supposed to be used and what things needed to be developed. This really helped us to divide things into tasks, Anders worked with the graphics, Staffan worked the backend, Daniel with the iPhone app and I worked with the social network integration.
Prepare as much as possible – we were very well prepared. The hosting on GleSYS servers were setup days in advance. We had registered the domain, pointed it at our server, installed all software on the server and had prepared a deployment script. By execute that script we had a new version up and running live on the site within minutes! We had made sure we know how to get push notifications working on the iPhone, we had checked all certificates were proper and working, all development tools working. We had even prepared to develop the whole site and application without any network connectivity, e.g. setup a code sharing repository on a USB stick which we could hand around to synchronize the code in the team.
Some lessons learnt:
It helps a lot to have used the APIs or libraries before. This time a lot of time was spent on the Facebook integration and there are still more to fix here. One reason why it took time to solve things was that we used the Facebooker plugin to Rails. It works great to use plugins in Rails when everything works but if they are not well documented which is the case with Facebooker and things starts to behave strangely it is much harder to find what is causing the problem. We have a couple of other projects which are about to use Facebook in a similar way so even if things didn’t work out a lot was learnt about the Facebook API.
Another thing which we didn’t focus on was a sales pitch. It was more ad hoc style since we all focused on the problems ahead. The model used at 24HourSormland is probably better, where presentations are done a couple of days after the actual camp. Or one should bring on a person in the team focusing on marketing, sales and presentation during the 24 hours!
Some really useful tools:
Skype – Skype was really useful during the event. We created a chat for the four of us and used it to sync each iteration. Once every hour or so we took a short break in conjunction with the sync to get short breaks too but Skype helped us stay focused on the tasks while quickly making everyone aware how things developed. Some problems were also discussed via Skype as well.
DropBox – DropBox was great for sharing files among us such as graphics or shorter texts. It cannot handle revisions as a code repository can but it is still very useful because it is fast and files stays organized. It is also great how well it integrates into the ordinary file system.
So that’s a long summary of a great event! If you like HiThere, please head over to the 24 hour business camp website and vote for us! You can read a bit more about HiThere on the 24hbc blog but it’s in Swedish. There are also lots of photos uploaded and tagged on Flickr!
Tags: 24hourcamp, hithere