In which we discuss our ideas about software development & technology consulting.

Art Bytes Hackathon Retrospective

First off we have to thank The Walters for putting on a great event with fantastic resources. Running a hackathon on it's own can be difficult to get right. Running a hackathon AND releasing brand new developer tools (The Walters API) is a real achievement.

Dev Time!

After the initial opening ceremonies the Back Forty-ers (we really need a better term for describing members of our team) in attendance split off into a couple different teams...

Ali teamed up with some folks looking to build a public art database. Their goal was to build an easily searchable and easily updatable database to catalogue public art in Baltimore. After much wrangling with off-the-shelf solutions they ended up building a prototype in Rails. You can checkout the code from github and help out!

Flip and I formed a team with the goal of building an iOS game using The Walters API. After several changes to the idea we settled on a form of the old "Two Truths and a Lie" game. The idea being to present the user with a picture of a piece of art at The Walters and 3 factoids, one of which is a lie. Correctly discern lies from truths and you get a point! Building a game in 24 hours is no joke, even with a great API to pull content from. Thankfully Chris was around (and done with his project) in the final couple hours. We spent the last bit of time before pencils down fixing bugs and smoothing out rough spots, and the extra help was amazing! If you want to check out the app and see how good of an art detective you are grab it from the app store here.

Presentations and Awards

By the time presentations were due we had all somehow finished our projects and polished them enough to be presented. Even Chris's side project which wasn't officially entered (a "What are the Walters’ operating hours today?" iOS app) was ready to go and got presented after the official entries. While we waited for the judges to complete their deliberation Flip treated the crowd to a group game of ArtLies (scores were shamefully low). When the votes were in every team with a Back Forty member took home a prize. Ed, Chris and Flip won for best game and Ali's team took home the prize for Cultural Change.

Final Thoughts

Hackathons are exhausting but it's exhilarating to build something great with talented people in such a short time span. It's a departure from the deliberate and careful way we build things at work but that's what makes it such a good time. Building something for the sake of building something is it's own reward.

PS: Check the #ArtLies hashtag on Twitter to see how your scores stack up against other art detectives!


Ed Schmalzle

Ed is a principal and lead developer at Back Forty.