As the clock struck midday last Monday, we started our inaugural Caplin 24 hour HTML5 themed hackathon. Inspired by similar days run by Atlassian (amongst others) we were keen to release our engineers from any shackles and leave them free to innovate new features and improvements that would benefit our products.
We have run a similar scheme for the last few years with so called “developer days” where, one or two days a month, engineers are encouraged to take time off their main projects and work on alternate areas of their own devices, much like Google’s oft quoted 20% time. The hackathon however was the first time we had invited everyone to undertake a developer day at the same time. It was also more restricted than usual with the stringent HTML5 theme.
Rules and Prizes
We didn’t want to be too prescriptive with what people worked on, however we did provide a few rules and guidelines:
- The work had to incorporate features that are part of what has generally been coined HTML5 (including CSS3 and such like, even though they aren’t technically part of HTML5)
- Engineers can organise themselves into teams of up to 3
- The use of third party libraries is allowed
- Development must start at 12:00 on Monday, no coding was allowed before this (basically no cheating!)
- Pizza would be ordered for 20:00 to ensure that anyone still working then had enough sustenance
- The winning entry must represent something that can genuinely be added into our products, however there would be a runners up spot for the most innovative use of HTML5, which didn’t necessarily need to fit immediately into a product
- From 14:00 on Tuesday each of the team would have 10 minutes to present what they have developed to the whole company
- Three judges (our CEO, CTO and CCO) would be responsible for determining the winning entry and the runners up
To spice up the competition, there were prizes lined up for the winning team and runners up, plus an even bigger incentive (in my opinion) that the winning feature will be added to our product set. Other features may be included in the product at the discretion of the management team.
I’m glad to say that the majority of the engineering team participated in the event, with a very high standard of output. Unfortunately we’ll only find out later today who won, but, at the risk of sounding like a cheesy Hollywood movie script, in my opinion everyone involved was a winner. <groan/>