Another weekend, another hackathon, this time only bigger and better. Angelhack was conducted on June 23 and June 24 simultaneously across four different cities in the country - Palo Alto, Seattle, Boston and New York. I was highly motivated for this one after we won the AWS track 2 weeks ago at AT&T hackathon. The morning of June 23 was a busy one at the Palo Alto AOL campus. Developers and start-up thinkers swarmed in as the day started. As I was entering, one of the geekster asked me – “Excited ?”, I nodded, he replied “me too”. It was very evident, everyone was.
Pitching sessions started, I heard some really awesome ideas. It made me wonder if it was even possible to build such things in 2 days at a hackathon, facial recognition for example. I had some ideas in mind, but somehow I did not see them happen at a hackathon. I was ready to help any team which had a good one. Michael Leonhard had an idea, it was about a product that would monitor web services and provide analytics for servers. Being a Java backend programmer for many years now, server analytics sounded like a comfortable idea to work on. Steve Wilmott, CEO of 3scale.net was also impressed with this idea. My good friend Harshit Chitalia was also looking for something to work on. The best part about teaming up with him is he is ready to learn and do anything. We were also representing the Blackberry dream team after our last win, where we won the awesome Playbooks. We teamed up.
Why Raphael was my devil at the hackathon ?
June 24 morning I was back at the hackathon trying to get the data into x and y axis. Searched for every available help online about the axis data. There are mentions about using r.g.axis (a call on Raphael object and g Raphael object) to add x axis data. But the g.Raphael js gives an undefined object on this call and r.axis also errors out with the same issue. It was almost afternoon when I was still struggling to get the x-axis data. Why can’t there be a simple js library where you just provide the x-axis, y-axis and the data in an array to plot ? Google charts came to my rescue. It is simple, elegant and easy to follow. I got the line graphs up with the all the data just in time for the demo. The x-axis had the http response codes (200,404,500 etc.) and y-axis had the number of occurrences of these codes on the server over last one hour. It worked like a charm on the Blackberry Playbook.
In the meanwhile, Steve, Michael and Harshit built the backend, hosted it on a public domain, got the api up, generated unique keys for customers and also submitted the video for the judges explaining what our product does. In between all the fun we had, we missed some very key things. We had not used any APIs from the sponsors. But our product was live and ready to go right then. Anyone could sign up, download a client on their server and get their data through the api or see the data on the graph. The product was just awesome, however just was not suited enough to this specific hackathon. We did not make it to top 30, but we learnt a lot. Hail hackathons!