I recently finished reading Roy Osherove’s book, Notes To A Software Team Leader which gave me inspiration to level up my team. Our day to day work is on the Microsoft stack thought it would be a good exercise to try something completely new with the goal of making something that worked in one day.
The project was creating a guestbook application using node.js. The database choice was open.
On Thursday at 2:00 we met to go over the rules. We split the team of 12 into two groups. Each team consisted of 1 system admin, 2 web devs, and 3 programmers. After going over the rules the teams had the rest of the day to make a plan and set up their development environments. The teams were free to try out Node but no programming on the project was allowed until Friday.
Starting at 8:30 on Friday the teams started development on the project. The idea was to work in pairs all day and work through the problems together. Throughout the day I heard grumbles of despair and cheers of small victories. At lunch time I brought in pizza and we all ate together while we listened to everyone talk about the problems they were having. There wasn’t much hope that there would be something to show at the end of the day.
At 4:00 I came out to announce that the time was up and it was time to stop working. I expected that we would have a gathering to discuss the progress and continue this hack day in a few weeks. To my surprise, both teams said they had working projects! I ran around looking for a room with a projector so they could demo their projects giving them a crucial final few minutes to button up their code and make it work from an internet connected server.
We headed down to an empty auditorium classroom with a giant screen. Each team started off by talking about what they contributed to the project then one member of the team demonstrated their project. They walked through the public screens and the admin backend to approve or deny entries and showed their code repositories while talking about the tech stack and the process. They had varied approaches to the implementation details but both projects had flawless, though carefully executed, demos.
Overall it was a great success and we will be doing it again.
Here is the requirements document: http://sharpcoders.org/page/Hack-Day-1-Rules
And the repos for the projects:
Congrats to both teams!