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Developers Challenge Builds More Than CodeNovember 21, 2012

The day before we moved into our new office space the Spyder Trap development team headed to our President Mike Rynchek’s condo to spend the day working together while movers shifted us to our new digs.  Things started off like any other day, we got setup, consumed some a lot of coffee, put on our headphones and started cranking out code.

Development Challenge

Mike had other ideas for our afternoon though and asked us if we would be interested in doing a 90 minute development challenge.   We would break into teams of two, receive a random topic that he came up with and then have a short amount of time to build an application and/or website that relates to that topic.  I was extremely excited about this idea and quickly volunteered to take on the role of a team leader.  Khoa Nguyen was paired with me and we received our category.

It wasn’t hard to come up with a few ideas for our topic and we got really excited for 3:30pm to hit and start building out our idea.

The topic we ended up with was “Spyder Trap” which is fairly general but it gave us a great opportunity to do something creative.  Since were in the midst of a huge office move we decided to make that our primary focus.

Our Code Creation

During the week prior we had all been using a variety of hash tags on Twitter including #GoodByeEatStreet, #HelloLoringCorners, and #SpyderOOODay so we decided to make use of those and build a website that pulled in data from Twitter, arranged it in a very attractive way, then allowed people to filter by hash tag so that they could see what people were tweeting about in relation to those topics.

developer challenge code

Being a primarily back-end developer I took on the task of pulling in the JSON data from Twitter, parsing it out and getting it into the structure that was needed for Isotope which is a very cool jQuery plug-in that we have been using quite a bit lately.  While I was working on that Khoa built the front-end JavaScript and CSS that would enable us to take the data that I was generating and display things the way we wanted to.

I made use of Twitter’s media entities so that any photos or videos that were included with the tweets would be visible on our site to give users a more rich and exciting experience.  90 minutes goes very quickly when you are heads-down coding but we were able to get the site fully functional including adding a new v-host on our development server.

A Great Team Experience

We used a Google hangout so that people could watch and judge remotely which added a really neat layer to the whole experience.  Mike had contacted a friend of his who works for Best Buy Corporate and he was so intrigued by the idea that he agreed to come in and be one of the judges, along with Mike and Spyder Trap VP Aaron Weiche (and one of his daughters).

Developing under pressure is a lot of fun and really forces you to come up with a solid plan and stick to it.  All of the teams put together some really cool ideas and it was fun to see their creations during the judging.

Beyond just the technical side of things, this was a great team building exercise and I think that it was a fun opportunity to showcase what us Spyder Trap developers can do. I look forward to the next time we get the chance to do some competitive team-based coding, it was a blast!

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