A tale of beanbags, monster, and broken builds.

After months of prep, weeks of anticipation, and days of being on the verge of a nervous breakdown, the weekend we’d been waiting for like a kid with an advent calendar finally came. Programmers, coders, developers, software engineers, wizards; however you describe them, they all became hackers this weekend. Hundreds of devs from the North West, from freshers to established pros, crossed the threshold of MOSI for Hack Manchester 2014. For the uninitiated, Hack is a 24hr coding competition where the participants – nearly always groups of up to 4 – compete to complete challenges set by event sponsors. A good example of a challenge is the one we set last year, which asked hackers to build a browser-based, travel themed game.

Web Applications Chief Executive Craig Dean has been a huge supporter of Hack since its inception in 2012, and continues to look forward to it every year as one of our most important events. This year, the event was headline sponsored by WA:UK Tech Angels.

A hackathon in many ways represents the lifetime of a start-up business sped up. Brand new ideas are born, live and succeed (or die!) in the time it takes the Earth to complete one full revolution. But unlike the real business world, Hack gives you a safety net. This is what we’re all about, as an angel investment organisation; giving good ideas room to breathe.

It was an early start this year, and doors opened at 10am to a group of barely-awake coders, clutching coffees, laptops and desk mascots. The event sponsors each had a short talk to introduce the event and explain what they were looking for in judging their challenges.

As the afternoon went on, hotpot was consumed, beers were drank, and Wall-E toys were tweeted. As we neared the end of the first day of hacking, many teams showed no signs of stopping. The coding went long into the night, and at one point I believe a coffee shortage could have caused a riot!

Typically a little bit weird and wonderful, Hack is a test of sanity as well as mental and physical fortitude. One of our official teams found their sanity challenged at around about 5am Sunday morning, when team captain Ian, in his own words, “woke up to the horror of a completely broken, non-recoverable build”. The team somehow changed tack, and turned around their project in 6 hours time – no mean feat in itself – more so, the judges were so impressed with the final product that their app, Infecting, made a shortlist of 3 for the Best in Show award! The award show, compered by comic Bethany Black, was a showcase of some serious talent! The eventual winner of Best in Show were team Code Gainz with Raizer, a social media app that was described as “a simple way to complete challenges with your friends and family, whilst raising money for charity.” The app purported to generate eCommerce for charities through video ad revenue. We hope you enjoy the tablets, guys!

 

Hack, you were fantastic this year. If you take anything away from the weekend, take away: the fact that you tried something out, and enjoyed it. Sometimes, an idea only needs a bit of space to grow (and a large helping of an energy drink or two) to succeed. See you next time, hackers!