This is first time I have entered Android Dev Camp, and my goal was to work on an Android Tablet Honeycomb App. After not seeing any pitches about making a Tablet App, I've decided to pitch about an App myself so I can learn how to work with Honeycomb. With a Motorola Zoom in my hand, it would not make sense not to build an app since Emulator is virtually unusable.
Day 1:Team forming
There were around 50 teams forming, so it was extremely hard to grab anybody. Some team seems to be already formed, but I virtually did not know "anybody" other than the organizer, and just standing there were not really a good idea. At some point I was just join the other teams. But fortune seems to flow with those who are courageous, I went into the audience and were able to meet up with 2 developers. Charles Xie of Oracle, and Waleed Adbulla from Networked Blogs. I've emailed the distribution of tasks and we decided to meet on the second day. We met a designer at end of the night but she said she might not be able to make it for the weekend.
Day 2: Planning and Coding
After putting out the layouts and sharing them on github, we were able to collaborate. Charles was working on Paypal API, which we were using for freemium service. This is Waleed first Android App, so Waleed was browsing through the documentation and trying to get a sense of what I was trying to do. After going through guides of finding out Drag and Drop and with some help from @michaelg of ebay, we were able to get drag and drop part working at night, Waleed was able to make my code a lot more efficient.
While Charles working on the PayPal API, I was busy with forming up calculation result and display page. Around afternoon, Waleed wanted to do sliding on Android, I didn't really recommended it because I have tried to do that before and I couldn't find any answers from stackoverflow or anybody blogging about it. Waleed went through documentation and by around 11:00PM, we had page sliding/scrolling working where user can slide food to the next page. Everybody we've demoed to was very impressed with this piece of user Action, since nobody else other than Android Home screen is able to implement it as nicely as what Waleed has done.
Around 10:00PM Tara Kelly, a designer from another group, decided to help us with our visual design. within an hour of half she has designed what you see above, which made our app from an amature app into a fine tuned designed application.
Day 3: Putting pieces together and present
I received an email from Charles 3:15AM telling me Paypal integration is working. The team met up around 11:00AM at the round table at Paypal and we've starting to putting pieces together. And when the time comes, we presented. Since this is a hackathon, we think using presentation slides would not be good. I mistakenly placed the tablet sideways, but I was able to correct that afterwards. Nervous as I was, I was able to present our core features of drag and drop, calculation, sliding screens, and premium nutrition modal during the presentation. Every judge has made some positive comments on our application, which was quiet impressive. After that, we were finally able to enjoy rest of the presentations.
Organizers' Award, Best UI Design, we were the first being called onto the stage. That was quiet happy moment to be called first on the stage.
People's Choice, Coolest App, we were first being called onto the stage again, and being the first being called on the stage twice. This was ackward moment, we didn't know we were suppose to go up or something.
Investor's Award, we didn't really get anything, despite all the investors were giving us good comments. But there is one fundamental flaw about making it on Honeycomb, the entire Android Tablet platform is still new, so there are about less than 10,000 of these Xooms being sold out there. Having 16 "Honeycomb App" out in the market doesn't really help either. So I don't really blame the investors not giving us anything, since more trends needs to be seen to determine whether this is even a growing market.
I had a really good time during the Android Dev Camp, met some really cool group. And this time my team really carried their weight, everybody had specific tasks and we were able to distribute the work evenly. Everybody did their part and we had a very nice app in the end. Food was awesome and Paypal were super helpful on helping us with integration.
What can be improved
There are couple of things that was quiet confusing.
After initial pitch round, we had to stand on the stage shamelessly. I was feeling very uncomfortable and odd since we had like 50 people trying to grab users. I think we should just leave our twitter name/email and just open an open network session. For those who wants to join our teams they can tweet against our twitter, and for those who wants others to join the team they can simply go around during network session.
Flickr Photos, there were bunch of photographers around and taking a lot of our photos, but until now I can't even find a photo of my team, or photo of any team for that matter. When they post it I'll update the blog. I think there should be some photostream so that we can at least leave some memories of our good times =)
Trademark check, Coupal was a really cool idea and won the grand prize, after checking out coupal.com I found out Coupal is actually trademarked entity. Not only they didn't have the .com as domain, they can't even use Coupal as a brand, or they can sued for trademark infringement. I think the VC Judge panels should be more aware of these things before giving out grand prize awards. Otherwise next time I can name my project Groupon or Twitter for that matter if I am not worried about trademark/copyright infringement.
Thanks all the Organizers, Volunteers, Sponsors, Judges, and Attendees for watching our demo. Paypal did an amazing job to keep all the hackers happy. Thanks even more if you voted for Team 24: Nutrition Calculator. I will try my best to improve the app in the future, stay tuned and follow @pickupsports