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Dev Blog

HackDays: Fun, prizes, and maybe even profit!

by Jason Diller on May 26/2011

As part of my role as a developer on the platform team here at FreshBooks, I’ve been fortunate enough to represent FreshBooks and our API at Hack Days in Montreal, Ottawa, and Waterloo.

If you’ve never been to one, the idea is to build something impressive in one day, using one or more of the sponsor APIs and anything else you want. You can read about how the day typically goes down here.

No ideas? Show Up Anyway!

I’ve talked to a couple of people who have said that these events sound interesting, but they don’t have any ideas for stuff that they could build in a day. I always tell them to show up anyway because there are plenty of people who do have ideas but are flying solo and would be eager to take on another team member for the day to help them make sure their idea makes it across the finish line. There’s always a whiteboard or other prominently placed fixture with “Want Help” and “Want TO Help” lists to serve as matchmaker for people who looking to collaborate, so finding a team won’t be a problem. Just bring your computer and your mad skills.

Graphic Designer? Show up too!

A lot of the apps that do get built are functional and inventive, but could use a little bit more love in the visual appeal department. If you’re a graphic designer, I can guarantee there will be people clamoring to get you on their team.

There is no such thing as failing

Even if you don’t end up presenting at the end of the day, let alone winning a prize, the experience is really valuable. You get to meet and network with other local people in your field, you have an excuse to scratch that itch and finally build something that’s been on your mind for a while without the constraints of your office or manager telling you what tools or methodology to use. You own your code, too, so even if you don’t finish during the event, you can continue working on it afterwards.

Calgary is next!

We’re excited to be doing this all again in Calgary on Saturday, June 4th 2011. This will mark the first HackDay we’ve been a part of in Western Canada.

I’m really excited to see the legendary western do-it-yourself-by-the-bootstraps work ethic in action. As a transplanted westerner myself, I fully expect Calgary to put Ontario and Quebec to shame in terms of turnout and results.

calgary

Photo by: John Vetterli – Licensed under Creative Commons – Some Rights Reserved

We’ll be taking over the iStockPhoto offices in the Ramsay neighbourhood, just east of downtown.

So…if you’re a developer or graphic designer in or around Calgary, I really hope you can make it out. Say hi at the event. If you let me know you read about it here, I’ll even buy you a beer at the pub afterward.

If you’re from other parts, keep an eye out for us, we may be coming through your town.