Harmony Hill Hackathon: The Aftermath

Last weekend was the first ever Harmony Hill Hackathon at the lovely Harmony Hill in Union, Washington. A group of twelve of Seattle’s finest developers converged on the location to write software to help the awesome people at the Hill who do amazing work helping people dealing with Cancer. Our host defiantly made us fell welcome and treated us like kings while we were there. And the facility was incredible, nestled into the hillside overlooking the Hood Canal. Here is a short video of the work environment in which we got to spend our weekend.

Harmony Hill Hackathon from Bobby Johnson on Vimeo.

I arrived by 6:30 PM on Friday night and got settled in. The staff at Harmony Hill set us up with an great vegetarian dinner and tons of hospitality. In fact, they made us breakfast, lunch and dinner the entire time we were there. I this was not some McDonald’s run food either. This was home cooked goodness. They even provided a huge cooler full of more soda & beer than you can shake a stick at and still stand up.

This particular team had never worked together before and was rather large for an agile team. Justin stepped up and took on the role of scrum master/lead feature getter dude and started interviewing the our product owner Vic. It was really fun watching Justin zero in on a minimally marketable feature by simply discussing the entire process with Vic and covering the problem space from her point of view.

In the mean time the rest of the developers started setting up a development environment selecting MVC 3, StructureMap, Machine.Specifications, NUnit and NHibernate as our technology stack. We were also lucky enough to have an AgileZen account donated to the project by the awesome Nate Kohari & team. All of our source code went up on github and we set up a TeamCity server to do builds while we worked. We quickly set up a build script using psake and had a base for our application to grow on.

Over the course of the weekend we got to watch the typical project lifecycle play out in 48 hours. There were disagreements, bunny trails, technology derailments and frustration. All of which was documented on twitter. But we also experienced pairing in rhythm, spurts in understanding and productivity, learning from each other and incremental victories. By Sunday we were a well oiled machine cranking out code based on requirements in 90 minute iterations.

We missed our goal of producing a usable product by the end of the weekend (we were so close!), but we got a great foundation in place which we can build on over the coming days. We also got to know each other pretty well and have fun while donating our time to a great cause. Which is a great victory for us all.

So, the project carries on. If you are interested in contributing or helping out in any way get your self a github & AgileZen account, join the mailing list and pitch in. If you just want to see what 12 developers who have not worked together as a team can produce in 48 hours, check out the github repository. Feedback is always welcome.

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