Monthly Archives: March 2014

Photo Hack Day Japan

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I took part in a hackathon last week­end — the very first Pho­to Hack Day Japan! I heard about it via the Tokyo Android Meet­up group and thought it would be fun to try and build some­thing new and meet some more devel­op­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly Japan­ese-speak­ing ones.

The event was spread over Sat­ur­day and Sun­day (with a pre-par­ty on Fri­day), cul­mi­nat­ing in presentations/demos and a prize cer­e­mo­ny. It was held at the Mixi HQ in Shibuya. The gen­er­al idea was to make some­thing inter­est­ing using the APIs of the com­pa­nies spon­sor­ing the event. We had about 24 hours.

Photo Hack Day Japan!

Pho­to Hack Day Japan!

I teamed up with Ben Watan­abe, a design­er and entre­pre­neur who I had met once before via the meet­up group. He had recent­ly found­ed his own com­pa­ny, Ten­Ten, and was some­what expe­ri­enced with hackathons. We cre­at­ed an app called ‘Before The Fil­ter’ — an app to teach users about the fun­da­men­tals of pho­tog­ra­phy. It explained sev­er­al prin­ci­ples in pho­tog­ra­phy (includ­ing Rule of Thirds, Van­ish­ing Point) using text and images, as well as an over­lay over the cam­era view to help users line up their tar­get cor­rect­ly with respect to the par­tic­u­lar prin­ci­ple.

It was great to work with such a tal­ent­ed design­er. As a devel­op­er, I find the pro­gram­ming-side of build­ing a mobile app straight­for­ward. If you have solved a sim­i­lar prob­lem before (which nat­u­ral­ly becomes increas­ing­ly com­mon), you are large­ly con­strained only by how fast you can type. It is often easy to come up with a mea­sur­able way of eval­u­at­ing your sys­tem, and you can con­tin­ue to ham­mer away until those con­di­tions are met. On the oth­er hand, decid­ing what to build, what kind of user expe­ri­ence the app should have, those are the kinds of things that are, to me, much more chal­leng­ing to deal with.

The hackathon was pretty much this. For a whole weekend.

The hackathon was pret­ty much this. For a whole week­end.

With the demos sched­uled for 1.30pm on Sun­day, we sub­mit­ted the app to Google Play at 11.30am and hoped it would go live on time (it did!). Ben gave a very strong pre­sen­ta­tion and we received many com­ments after­wards from peo­ple who were sur­prised at how ‘com­plete’ the app was. We took the prize for the best use of the Aviary API (the only API we inte­grat­ed with!), as well as the prize for the sec­ond best over­all hack. This totalled ¥300,000 in prize mon­ey! Our sto­ry made it onto The Bridge.

Picture of us taking a Frontback picture.

Pic­ture of us tak­ing a Front­back pic­ture.

Before The Fil­ter can be down­loaded from Google Play here. Ben and I are plan­ning on con­tin­u­ing devel­op­ment of the app in the future — watch this space for more to come!