anthony galvin


Last week R/GA London had it’s first Make Day - two days of creative and technical exploration, in some ways done just for the joy of being able to make things. I was astonished by the diversity and quality of the work that people produced. Russell, has posted a round up of the different projects, which ranged from a (working) face recognition system running on Windows 8 (which isn’t even publicly available) to some marmalade. For my part I worked as part of team building a “tea and coffee roulette web app / game”.

The concept itself was pretty simple - make a webapp that would allow you to join a tea round, the twist being that the last person to set a preference and complete a simple task would have to make the drinks for everyone else. A quick 10 minute brainstorm and one whiteboard diagram later and we were underway, with @sanderkuypers doing the visual design and the rest of us (@benoitgrelard, @loopdream and myself) quickly began hacking together some working software.

From a tech perspective we decided on a web app (ie, a mobile application that isn’t device specific and can run in the browser) as the best way to get something working with our dev skills. From a front end perspective you can get quite a lot of motion data from some devices (such as an iPhone) via JavaScript, which meant we could build a ‘shake the sugar’ task for the race element of the game. Last one to a hundred shakes makes the tea.

To speed up getting to this device data and creating the UI we used the jQuery JavaScript framework. In the background the game engine was built using PHP and CodeIgniter to handle user registration and keeping everything in sync. We had thought about using node.js to handle socket connections to the devices, but with time limited we settled on using Pusher (a hosted socket service), which had us up and running in about 20 minutes. Behind all this sat a simple mySQL database for keeping everything together.

By the end of the two days we had a working game, that looked great and actually worked - user and device registration, automated email (warning users that the game was about to start), a countdown, simple game (track and field style) and notification to the winners and users - all in real time (via web sockets).

Apart from being a break from our usual client projects and lots of fun it was good to build something a little different - although we didn’t stray too far from our core competency, we did try a few new things. Russell and the management team set some pretty loose (open?) goals for make day, but as the project progressed it was clear that one of the main motivating factors of our team was to deliver working software - which is a pretty healthy team ethic.

I’ll post a link to the source code and a working example once it’s online.

– Follow Up –

Dave suggested that one of the factors for the (relative) success of the project was that the team comprised a variety of skill sets. Whilst this is true, it did come about pretty much by accident. 

#coding #development #rga #work #words

2011-12-11 21:48:00 GMT permalink