Vodafone #appaid hackathon “Coding for a cause”

Vodafone #appaid hackathon “Coding for a cause”

This had to be the best developer event (also known as a Hackathon) that i have been to in Australia, We (10 teams) had 48 hours to scope and build a mobile application for a charity. We were each given a list of charities involved in the challenge to select from. We were then given 5 mins to present our application and demo it to a panel of judges including Guy Kawasaki who was flying out for the event.

Our choosen charity from the event was the Leukaemia Foundation: The Leukaemia Foundation would like to develop an app to support cancer patients through their cancer journey, especially those in more remote areas. The app will capture patients information, such as their physical and mental wellbeing which will be fed back to their care coordinator to monitor and intervene as required. It will also provide prompts to patients about up and coming appointments and provide information to support them through treatment side effects.

Usually in hackathons the problem or puzzle you are solving is only given to you right at the start of the event, because there were so many charities and each one had particular requirements we were given it before we started.

As part of what i called my Team’s Media Campaign i also created a team page including a webcam feed that i kept going through the entire event App Aid Team page

So the solution i came up with was for a application with an ecrypted json feed to a supporting site where site users could review and update information which would then update the data on the device, likewise mobile app users would be able to feed updated app information back to the support site. All was going well until a rethink and scope test 7 hours into the build which ended up leading to a change in direction.

Armed with Redbull and a whole box of pizza (they order soooo many pizzas the first night for dinner, 2 boxes per person) we set to redesigning and rebuilding for the updated requirements. I coded all through the night and all the next day eventually sleeping for 3 hours the morning when it was due. In total i was awake for an astonishing 44 hours straight. Strangely i felt fine which really confused me, The only explination i have is that it was powered by an awesome team and determination.

The build was completely (demonstrable) finished at 5:47am the day it was due to be presented, this ment that while many other teams were still trying to rush builds into production (mostly due to them in-fighting about native functionality or scope) i was off having a shower and some breakfast.

I used Corona SDK (by was always going to be my biggest advantage, many of the teams were dealing with builds in native languages which ment rebuilding each app in different languages and then presented all sorts of cross platform functionality issues. From conversations i was hearing around the room native device functionality was the topic of much debate trying to scale functionalities cross platform. Interesting to note also is that i was the only developer in our team that was able to develop on Corona while many of the other teams had multiple developers (one even had developers working in shifts) we were able to deliver a working solution in 48 hours on multiple platforms with one developer.

The final product is called “uCanAid”

In the end we didnt end up winning the competition but it was a win all round the app provided a solution for a the Leukaemia Foundation to resolve a gaps and requirements. The leukaemia Foundation loved the app from the mechanics to the flow and design and are right now seeking funding to move it into a more organised development release (which i am happily seeing through).

Finally in closing id like to say thanks to the following companies that helped with support and my Teams media campaign

Leukaemia Foundation – For putting up with us (and for being an awesome group)
Vodafone – For hosting such an awesome event
CoronaLabs – For giving us a Pro licence for the challenge
Hoyts – For giving us a double pass as part of our ‘Name the App’ contest
uWant – For the server space and hosting
ThinktankSocial – For tracking the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram