First (and not last) time at iOSDevCamp 2011

iOSDevCamp group photo
iOSDevCamp group photo

A fellow iOS developer buddy of mine told me about iOSDevCamp.  It wasn’t on my radar, so I decided to register and check it out.  What can I lose?  It was $50 which included meals for the whole weekend.  I also convinced my friend to register, she is an iOS developer too. The hackathon follows a similar format of a Startup Weekend, Friday night – networking, idea pitches, some teams form, Saturday – teams done forming, hack hack hack, and Sunday – hack, submit, present your hack.  The big difference between iOSDevCamp and Startup Weekend is that iOSDevCamp focuses on progressing the iOS development community with no big focus on generating business revenue models, just great and fun apps.

Before the weekend, all the attendees can create profiles on CrowdVine.com, a social network for events.  I posted my profile and exchanged messages with several folks.  It helped me figure out who had what skills and what ideas, but generally it was nice to meet people too.  To event organizers, make it easy for attendees to meet before the event, it makes the actual event more productive!

This year, iOSDevCamp was held at PayPal in San Jose.  This was my second time hacking at PayPal, different event though.  It’s great how they support the local development community.  I hope that they continue contributing their space for great hacking events in the future.  I <3 PayPal!  Alright back to dev camp.

I arrived Friday night looking for a promising idea and team.  I met a guy during dinner who was big on Ruby and JavaScript, but also does some iOS coding.  His friend and him had an idea to figure out what friend and what friend of friend lives in the city that you are visiting.  It wasn’t a bad idea, but I kept my options open.  At around 8:30pm, “pitchers” went one by one pitching their app idea.  One that caught my eye was a lost and found app.  I saw the potential in helping other people and a possible business model.

On Saturday, we ended up with 5 iOS developers (3 guys, 2 girls) with varying iOS skills, most of us had apps in the AppStore.  One iOS developer had UI/graphic skills too.  Score on my part because he was my recruit.  We started off the morning brainstorming use case scenarios with a girl who is a PayPal UX designer.  Once that was done, we got GitHub set up and divvied up the tasks.  We ran into a bunch of problems getting source control to work for whatever reason, the combination of XCode and GitHub was barfing.  I got the task of doing the “search” view which is basically a UITableView with a UISearchBar on top.  The team lead did some work already on the backend so I just had to call an API and parse the JSON file.  At the end of the day, we had semi things working, but still lots of stuff.  Three developers continued late, two of which continued almost through the whole night.  Because of the Women 2.0 contest for free AppNation passes, on this day I ran into a girl hacker whom I met at that mobile app conference.  She also develops a Facebook app that does in-store coupons for businesses.  Small world!

On Sunday, we finished what we could.  After lunch, all attendees were in a big group photo.  I’m now known as the person who brought the youngest hacker to dev camp (hint on age: he can’t talk and walk yet, see front row).  Then the demos started.  We ended up going in the third batch of presenters.  We did good.  Our demoed app allowed you to report a lost or found item, do a live search, and pay a reward using PayPal.  I’m sure that there is some video of all the presentations, so look for us!

This year’s iOSDevCamp had an impressive 475 attendees working on 78 apps.  I will definitely be attending again.  Thanks to the organizers for thinking of women because there were stylish iOSDevCamp womens t-shirts that I would wear again.  Follow tweets here.

Some highlights:

  • Two 14 year old girls participated and created an iPhone app with no prior experience, they won best new iOS developers award
  • A team created a native Turntable.FM iPad app, if you don’t know Turntable.FM, check it out, it’s a social DJing website with super cute avatars
  • A satellite team from Europe created a JawBreaker app.  You and your opponent take a photo of your own faces.  Then you hold  your iPhone in a fist and pretend to punch the other person (hand air gestures).  When you look at your own photo, you will see bruises on your face.  Awesome!
  • A whole lotta iPad2s were given out as prizes unfortunately I was not a receiver, next year!
  • One sponsor Betable says they’ve legalized gambling and you can use their APIs (read fine print, not really true for U.S.)
  • Tip: bring large monitors for coding plus it tells everyone else that you’re a serious coder
  • A team created an app where you can control a robot with hand air gestures and tweets
  • A team created a running app that modifies the songs that you listen to by the rate of your running
  • I recommended another friend to attend dev camp and he ended up winning the accessibility app category, BeeLine Reader, where’s my cut?
  • A team of two girl hackers created TickerBuddies where you can hold up a marquee sign that scrolls across multiple iPads

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