Apologies for that terrible pun.
But yes, we're back from the hack. Some of us are still recovering from the week-end's sleep deprivation, but we're all very happy with how the hack went.
Only one of our teams made it to the finals, it was team Nuts Hack with their hack "Paltopia", for the CoOp challenge.
My team, "it's just a name", didn't go to the finals - we've analysed what went wrong and have a few explanations as to why.
This analysis led me to a list of things to start/stop/continue next year, because we'll definitely be back!
What we will be doing again
- The iterative approach: I am really happy with how we handled our Kanban (ish) board during this hack, adding only small tickets to it and flowing through them very smoothly. We had a roadmap to our MVP + features before the event, stuck by it during the event, which proved very useful.
Our Kanban board on the day. Classic backlog / doing / done, with individual swim lanes
- Branches: Sort of. We decided to keep a clear and stable version of our hack on a master branch/deployment, while implementing new features on develop. Merging only after making sure that develop was stable as well by manually testing it. This allowed us to always have something working to demo at anytime.
What we will not be doing again
- Underestimate the importance of the idea: We really lacked inspiration on our idea, and we also lacked time to try and find an interesting idea. We came up with one that was good on paper, but when it came to putting it together we quickly realised what were its flaws. You can be amazing at your job, be able put together extraordinary stuff in a very short amount of time - none of it matters if you don't have a good concept to tie it all together nicely.
What we will start doing
Prepare as much as we can before the hack: There's a lot of things we could have done before the event that we haven't. For example write at least the first batch of tickets to MVP, mockups of what our app would look like, and overall more research on any external APIs to use.
More frequent stand ups: Particularly during the night. We had a few stand ups to summarize where everyone was at, and they all had the effect of making us feel more energized and motivated to keep going through the work. Having them on a schedule would probably be a good thing.
This will serve as a conclusion
Personally I found the overall organisation of the hack this year a LOT better than the previous ones. We had SMS controlled queues for food, could tweet the barristas to get coffee delivered to our table and the Wi Fi broke only once for a few minutes. Amazing stuff really. Warm congratulations to all the Hack Manchester staff!
All in all, the event was great, spending all week end hacking a project together with friends was great, and I can't wait for next year's.