It’s been a while since our last hackathon, so we were excited to do another to end the year 2011 at Miso. In the 6 months since our last hackathon, the team at Miso has grown significantly and that has allowed us the option to split into two different teams to work out on separate ideas. I got placed on the Quips team, so that’s what I’ll be talking about today.
What is Quips?
Have you ever hung out with friends, and someone said something so hilarious you wanted to quote them on your social network of choice? That’s the moment we wanted to capture. Drawing inspiration from quote cards from Miso sideshows, we came up with an idea for an iPhone app that let’s you take a picture, slap a quote over it and share it over Twitter! Of course, what’s a photo sharing app without filters a la Instagram? We got that covered too. Our tag line? Appropriately: “Because your friends are hilarious”.
The app took 5 of us just 3 days to complete. The team consisted of 2 shared designers (we had two teams), two engineers on iOS and one more on the backend server. Although a relatively simple app, from design and planning to execution, the whole process reminded me of those sleepless nights finishing senior design projects. The difference was that I had a lot of fun doing it, and the only thing that was on the line was my pride in being to do this in the short amount of time we had. At the end, we finished everything within 3 days, and submitted to the app store the day after. Overall it was a success and everyone in the office loved playing with the app.
Since it was the second hackathon I’ve participated in, a few mistakes were learned in the past and some news ones were made this time around. I thought it’d be helpful to share a few tips for those attempting a hackathon themselves.
Small and focused – Google wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect that of yourselves. Avoid ideas where it involves hundreds and thousands of users for it to be worthwhile. Focus on a small idea, and make it awesome. The result will likely be more compelling.
Plan for the worst - I think it’s fair to say that most software engineers are terrible at estimating. Being one, I’m absolutely in love with the idea of building anything in the most ideal time frame. In reality, everything that can go wrong will go wrong when it comes to coding. Though we did a better job this time when it came to coming up with a reasonable design, we still ended up stripping out some parts to cross the finish line.
The devil’s in the details - It took us the first two days to have something somewhat functional, but another whole day to polish and make everything look good and work solid.
Have fun – It will be intense, but don’t let that stop you from exploring new ideas and learning new tools. We liked the Facebook/Path menu, but we didn’t know how it worked so we invested time into building it just for this. Sure it would have been faster going with UI elements we’re familiar with, but what’s the fun in that?
Funny story, we had to resubmit Quips to the app store due to a screenshot having the word “badass” on it. Apple likes to keep everything PG-13 apparently. The app is available in the app store. Go grab it and let us know how you like it!