Hackathon through the eyes of the participant and the winner

    Recently I had the pleasure of participating in the hackathon , which was conducted by EPAM Systems among the employees of their Ukrainian offices. About some observations and reflections inspired by this event, as well as about what our team managed to do, my story narrates.

    The organizational part was worked out perfectly: food for every taste, board games, Xbox, bean bags, in which, with some skill, you can sleep. 13 teams arrived at the Kiev office, sometimes it was a bit crowded, but these are more likely household trifles that few people noticed.

    How it was

    The theme of the hackathon - “Green Planet” - was announced almost a week before the event, there was enough time to think through the idea. I believe that the idea for a fast-moving project should not be invented from scratch, trying to suck something out of your finger or looking for a way to save the world. It is much better to propose / develop a solution to a problem that to some extent specifically bothers you, or that you had to deal with on other projects.

    Work is in full swing

    As in any project, the team and the distribution of tasks in it play an important role. It is funny that in our unit there were a lot of people who wanted to “poop,” even the option to nominate 2 teams was discussed. But in the end they confined themselves to one with 6 pairs of workers. For the future, I decided that for such a thing it is better to form a team of 4-5 people - it is easier to manage and guarantee the existence of tasks for everyone. To ensure teamwork, the previously deployed application server and database turned out to be very useful.

    The choice of tools was very simple: each team member took only those tools with which he has the most experience. The whole project is given approximately 24 hours (including the night when it is still advisable to devote a couple of hours to sleep), google and write on Stackoverflow.com will not work much. Obviously, assessing the risks and the ability to make a project work in such a short time is one of the main tasks of the team. Among the Hackathon rake, it is difficult to distinguish something that the developer would not step on in real conditions. But the value of the presentation of the project increases sharply - each team takes 5 minutes, and these minutes became decisive.

    About our project

    The main trend at the event was the use and expansion of geographic information services, and our team could not resist the temptation.

    The central technical solution of the project was the parsing of images of contrasting distinguishable maps and their rendering on Google Maps using polygons. Developing the Green Planet theme, we proposed overlaying environmental pollution maps layer by layer on a terrain map.
    Using our application, a person who wanted to go for a walk could look at the level of pollution in a particular part of the city, and measure the amount of harmful substances consumed along the route laid by him. I draw your attention to the fact that we did not implement the algorithm for bypassing "dirty" zones, this is a separate task for the future, so far you can only create a route yourself. These features were provided by the web application, and the version of the Android application made it possible to see the pollution map, the current position on it (using GPS), as well as record the route traveled and issue a warning when entering the zone where the pollution level exceeds the threshold value. The name of the project was given by GreenWay.

    The technical solution, of course, begins with the GoogleMaps API, since almost all the functions we needed had one interface for web and Android.
    The web application is written using the JSF framework. Information about each pollution layer is stored in a text file of JSON format, which is loaded into memory at application startup. These layers are superimposed onto maps as Overlay objects on the server side. The user sets the start and end points of the route and indicates the waypoints (points through which the route must pass), and the route itself is requested through the Google Directions API web service in JSON format. Drawing markers start, finish, waypoints and drawing routes implemented in JavaScript.

    GreenWay Web Application

    The mobile application was made for API version 8 (compatible with Android ≥ 2.2). Pollution sites are built from the same data files as for the web application; these files have been stored locally so far. Positioning on the map was carried out using GPS LocationProvider, information about the route traveled and speed were recorded line-by-line from its data in a text file.
    On devices with a small screen size, the application worked quickly enough, but serious brakes were noticed for 4 or more inches. The natural reason for this was the lack of optimization of building polygons or loading them by sectors - there was no time to do this at the hackathon, but it is obvious that the problem is being solved.

    GreenWay Android App

    To summarize

    The result of the work was evaluated by a jury from the top management of the company. The formal evaluation criterion was a demonstration at the output of something working, useful, and with a beautiful UI. In addition to this, all participants of the contest voted, determining the prize of audience sympathy, in our case called the “Prize for the best startup”. This award, by the way, was received by our team, together with the third place in the overall standings.

    our team

    I do not have information about the fate of other hackathon projects, but I am optimistic about the future offspring of our team. The mapping application, the idea of ​​which we presented at the hackathon, is planned to be launched in January as a service of a specialized data center. There are a couple of interesting ideas, in particular, in the segment of Android applications. In our case, the constraining factor is access to cartographic data, which in most cases has a legal copyright holder, or a ministry that is not always friendly.

    Hackathon is an excellent tool for professional growth, implementation of your ideas and another type of weekend entertainment. I wish you success and see you at the new hackathon!

    Also popular now: