Designing a festival app – a hackathon experience

Annakaisa Anttila • Guest Contributor

--editor's note--

Two weeks ago we organized a hackathon with a goal of making the best open source festival app so that any festival can have one with minimal effort. The project is based on our three-year collaboration with Ruisrock and Fonecta, and they were kind enough to let us open-source the old code base. The current status of the project can be found on GitHub. We asked Ruisrock's producer Annakaisa Anttila to write down a few lines about her weekend experience at the event, and she was glad to do so. Read on to hear the customer's side of a busy weekend of code and energy drinks.

--editor's note--

Little did I know before the hackathon. I would describe my old role with the Ruisrock festival app as a content updater, not as a content designer. In the first three hours of the hackathon I learned more about software development than in the two years before that. Sitting down with the design team was mind-blowing – at the beginning of the hackathon we were all on the same line and I was warmly welcomed as a member of the design team – a totally new situation to me. We started with looking at how all the platforms worked in the last year's app. We brainstormed for new features that lead us to rethink the design. Working together we were able to create something new fast. The team explained the reasons immediately if a feature I suggested wasn't feasible to do during the weekend. You could never have the same kind of interaction via email or during a meeting on a busy day. Soon the situation was upside down and I got the chance to communicate straight to the coders about the suitability of their own ideas for a festival app.


So, did my role change?

Technically not that much. I'm not coding the back end nor the front end of the app. Neither am I designing nice graphics. But every moment I understand more and more about all those things and their effect to the whole project of creating a working festival app. I believe that without a true understanding I could never be a good content updater. Even if our app would have all the nicest features, badly written content would just make it a decent app instead of what it could be. Decent is not the word that you want to use when creating the best festival app ever. With the new knowledge I look our app with fresh pair of eyes. I'm able to teach my own team better and to create good content together. In the end we will serve our visitors with a better app where all the content is truly thought-out.


Future thoughts

Well first of all – who would teach me some coding right away! I am honestly in love with coding and developing, and its one sweet and inspiring love. Secondly – I do recommend for every company to try a hackathon at least once. Every project can't be done this way, but every company could use the creative energy from this kind of work method. I believe in the motto "Try everything once" and when trying a hackathon you will at least have one of the nicest weekends you can ever imagine and you can't help learning new things in the meanwhile. By the way, I also developed a festival hackathon where our team will fix Ruisrock for the next year. The feedback from our customers shall be our "code" for the start. Issues and bugs that need to be fixed will be named beforehand, e.g. improving the services at the camping site. During the hackathon we will of course use Flowdock for proper conversations between the groups (maybe they will also be called Robot 1, Robot 2 and Robot 3). In the middle of the hackathon we will have demo time together. When a group has figured out a solution to an issue, they will send a pull request which our bosses then approve to the new festival code. In the end of the hackathon we will have a demo time for the new code that will lead us to making the next festival better then ever. Hackathon can really inspire you beyond your digital products. Just try it yourself!

Pictures (c) Ruisrock / Mikko Kananoja.

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