Causes hackathon wrapup — what should we build next?
Posted Aug 12, 2011 by Sydney Fleischer
This week marked the conclusion of the latest Causes hackathon. We presented our achievements, talked about what it would take to “ship” (to go live in the world of Causes.com), and doled out a few awards. Hackathons are usually 36-48 hour periods when we stop everything that we’ve been working on, building features, fixing bugs, answering emails, etc., and instead form teams and build something totally new. We pitch each other our ideas and get straight to work with the goal to have a working product or prototype by the end of the next day (we ended the hackathon on Friday but presented on Monday, allowing for a few finishing touches over the weekend).
This time around, our team of 30 worked through the night and ended up presenting 11 products at the end of it. We’d love your feedback on which of these you’d like to see in the “real world” of Causes (or an office near you) and what we should work on next. Without further adieu, our projects!
Kristján, Adam and Dustin created our new 404 page. You land on a 404 page when you try to go somewhere that we can’t find — a cause that has been removed, a mistyped url, etc. Now, instead of just telling you that we couldn’t find the page and taking you back to causes.com , we try to help you find what you were looking for or something else you might like to see. There’s a search option and a picture of a puppy, so I’d call that a win.
Greg added to our code review tools, good on ya Greg! In the nerdery category, Sam and Grant set to work on a collaborative text editor, something that would allow two people to have a text doc open and editing at the same time, like a Google doc for code. Pretty neat.
Chris Chan spearheaded the efforts on three projects (he’s our VP of Product, he can do that). The first is a monthly giving report that we’ll start sending to you if you give on Causes. It’ll have updates on the projects you’ve supported, on what your friends have given to and a handy breakdown of your giving. You can already check on your giving activity in your profile at causes.com/account/donations, but we thought it would be nice to have it in your inbox too. Here’s a clip from his presentation.
Chris also did a deep dive into some of our demographics data, trying to learn more about who is on Causes, and worked with Russell on improving our publishing and commenting tools for the cause page. The new tool will include two dimensional commenting (where you can comment on a comment)…exciting!
Next up is a project from Anne Diaz and co. They set to work on something called, “Cut back to give back”, a pledging system where you give something up, coffee or dinner out for example, and instead give the money you would have spent on those items to a nonprofit that you want to support. James Windon, our VP of Business Development, tried his hand at coding this hackathon and built a Chrome toolbar plugin to display a fundraising project on Causes. He also hacked together some music for the plugin, quite an engineering feat for a novice, so we all tip our hats to James.
Not all of the hacking was so hi-tech. Jenny Griffith led a team to make a stop-motion video for Causes.com, welcoming you to the site and telling you what you can do there. It’s almost ready, and it’s awesome! Also on the lower-tech side, Jon, Jenn and I worked on our office entrance experience — we recently moved to a new space, have no receptionist, and people are generally confused as to where to go when they arrive for a meeting or interview. So we built a receptionist, complete with desk, to-do list and telephone.
The final part of our office entrance experience strike force was Mark and Jeff: they designed an iPad app that would allow us to play our own entrance music when we walk into the office, while Alex hacked the office stereo to play from the phone port in the entrance area. Here’s their demo, the most dramatic of the day.
So what do you want to see on Causes? Convince us to build it and, well, we will! Want to hack with us, we’re hiring!