Our Weekend At The Salesforce $1 Million Hackathon

The Salesforce $1 Million Hackathon is an annual event organized by Salesforce at Silicon Valley. This year, it was held from October 10 – 12, 2014 at City View in Metreon, San Francisco, California (USA).

Contributed by Brajeshwar OinamIt was an electrifying feeling to be surrounded by developers and designers from all around the world. I have always wanted to be a part of such a big event. What excited me the most was the opportunity to meet like-minded people with diverse backgrounds and a variety of experience in different domains. Knowing what I could take back from this place was priceless.

The event consisted of four rounds. One of the important guidelines was to create an app using Force.com, Heroku, or Force.com with Heroku. We could form a team of up to 6 members with anyone interested. We tweeted looking for team members. The tweets were displayed on a giant display visible to all. I teamed up with a Brazilian and three non-resident Indians – 4 team members whom I had not met before.

First few minutes we interacted mostly involved knowing each other and our domains of expertise. It is very important to know each others’ strengths and weaknesses in order to assign roles and complement efficiency while working in a newly formed team.

The amalgamation of ideas and exchange of knowledge was enlightening. There were a host of things I taught them and a lot of things I learnt from them. After brainstorming, we decided to come up with an app that could boost efficiency and performance and at the same time reduce the loss of time in a business environment. Careful evaluations led us to a consensus that we need to combine two of time management’s well established principles and integrate it into our app.

The Eisenhower matrix which helps sort tasks on the basis of importance and urgency plus the Pomodoro technique that helps focus all our attention on a specific task with time restrictions to evaluate performance. We had to ensure this setup has exceptional user interface and works smoothly. We named our app ‘Simpledone’. The app we built could categorize and notify tasks on priority basis and have a timer to evaluate performance. The users could assign tasks and set its urgency and importance. The target user for the app was anyone with a busy lifestyle and who wants a focused execution with minimum effort.

We decided to go with a mobile first strategy. The app had an API-oriented architecture and was responsive. We used Ruby on Rails (RoR), CSS (powered by Sass), Javascript, HTML and PostgreSQL DB to develop the app, which would later be made Open Source. We made use of Heroku which saved us time and also increased efficiency while developing the app. The app uses an algorithm generated priority list and uses visual time boxing.

We received a very positive response from the judges on our User interface and User experience in the app with a rating of 63%. Majority of them were interested in knowing how the app could be integrated into existing project management tools like JIRA, Basecamp, etc.

The opportunity to work with random people having unknown capabilities and coming from distinct cultures was one of the best learning experiences. We made some great connections and have been regularly updating each other with new ideas and suggestions.

I also noticed a lot of people focusing on application development and design for wearable devices and an increased focus on Internet of Things (IoT). I feel these are going to be the next big things. I believe everyone interested in the field of development and design should participate in similar events for the exposure it provides and the kind of knowledge transfer that it results in – working in an environment that takes us out of our comfort zone really makes us think out of the box.

You can find the repository of ‘Simpledone’ on Github here.  We also made a video of our pitch for the app. Take a look at it here.

You could try out the app at:  http://whispering-refuge-9133.herokuapp.com/

More Info about the app available here.

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