HackTO Wrap-Up

On Saturday April 14th, 2012, Terence and Myself participated in our third HackDays event, HackTO. While we didn’t do as well as previous events I still had a great time. Here’s a few thoughts on the event.


The day started bright and early with most people arriving just before 9am at Freshbooks HQ. I quickly grabbed a table for our team and got settled in. There was coffee, fruits, croissants and a mix of other things to eat while we waited for the API presentations. As the APIs presented Terence and I started thinking of our application and how it would interact with the available APIs.

After the presentations we started programming. We had 7 hours to build something that worked and used at least one of the available APIs. Lunch came way too quickly and consisted of lasagna and garlic bread. We continued hacking away through lunch and into the afternoon.

At 3:30 Terence had to leave to catch a flight and left me with 2 hours to finish up connecting Twilio to our application. At 5pm we stopped programming and presentations started. 23 applications were built and presented and the day ended with the judges revealing the 3 winners.

Our Application
A few days before HackTO we came up with the idea to create a hyper-local application to help people interact with their neighbourhood. Our use case was that if someone moved into a new neighbourhood they need to know what’s around them. We used Twitter’s Bootstrap for our design.

We used YellowAPI and Twilio
Results as our APIs and Google Maps to plot the different businesses. When a user visits the site, they enter their postal code and then wait for YellowAPI to return a long list of different businesses in different categories. We then map these companies to where the user is. Finally, if a user wants to get directions to a given business we used Twilio to send an SMS with the company name and the address to the user’s phone.

After all was said and done we didn’t place in the top 3 applications but we did win the Yellow API prize. While the prize money would have been nice I think the real value in events like this are interacting with other local developers and learning/experimenting with new tools.

I had a great time and can’t wait for the next one.