Cipele46: A recap of our first community hackathon

This July we hosted our first open hackathon in the office. The purpose was to bring together a number of clever and creative people to collaborate on a project for the community in a short period of time. And we did it! Although it took more time than we first anticipated. More than 40 volunteers have laboured long and hard to create cipele46.org and are still working on the project to improve the platform that connects people with low-income and those who could help by donating clothes, food, personal care items, school supplies, furniture, household goods and anything else that someone might need.

The Idea

The idea to connect people from both groups is not something new in Croatia. We joined forces with Silvija, Verica and Andreja from Cipele46 (en. Shoes 46) who started an initiative on Facebook in January 2013 that gathered more than 2000 people in a matter of days to help a disabled person who just needed a pair of shoes size 46 to get through the cold winter. Today, their Facebook page has almost 27 000 followers who are eager to help others. The organizers of the initiative get more than a thousand requests for help a month, and with different donations they were able to help more than 400 people and families so far.

We brought together people with experience in web and mobile development, designers and content writers to create a platform based on the Facebook page Cipele46 where sharing and helping others is the key value. A place where people could ask for help and be helped in a matter of days or even hours. Though the Facebook page achieved some amazing results it lacked the ability to search among requests and offers. In time, this would most definitely lead to posts being overlooked. We hope the platform hosted on www.cipele46.org, thanks to a donation by Plus hosting, will provide a more transparent and practical way of tracking donations and connecting people.

Wireframing and designing

Our preparations for the project began much earlier in designing logos and wireframes so our development teams understood what they were building. It saved us a lot of time in the starting process. Vedran Židanik, Andrej Radišić and Tomislav Kozačinski – you did an awesome job. Thank you!

Development

The majority of development in our company is done for Android and iOS so we teamed up with professional developers in Ruby on Rails and JavaScript to help create such a demanding web platform. Thanks to Saša Branković, Mijo Kaliger, Tomislav Grbin, Matija Kovačić, Tomislav Mesić, Ante Barać and Mario Radonić from our team who joined forces with skilled professionals Branimir Å loser, Hrvoje Å imić, Vlado Cingel, Goran Zoričić, Tomislav Capan, Mario Stipetić, Grga čurković and Dino Trojak, we made it happen.

Small teams of up to 6 people worked on cipele46.org during the hackathon on July 6th and after 12 straight hours we had acomplished so much. Engineers, designers and bloggers worked together to make something awesome and at the end of the day we had a beta version. People could find and browse through posted ads, and ads could be searched by title, category, location and ad type. Although the login functionality existed in the back-end there were still tasks for our development teams.

Technologies used: HTML5/CSS/JS (front-end), Ruby on Rails (back-end), Objective-C (iOS application), Java (Android application) and C# (WindowsPhone8).

After the hackathon

Summer months took their toll so our front-end and back-end teams scattered for a well-deserved vacation. We worked really hard to bring them together to finish the last part of the platform a few weeks back so today we can proudly present the fully functional web site cipele46.org.

Features:

  • Browse and search ads, filter them by category or location
  • Send an inquiry for an ad via email or use the phone number provided
  • Leave an ad if you have something to give away or if you need something

Individuals, businesses or groups wanting to donate items can search the portal to view donation opportunities. They will be able to search by categories, by keyword or by location. Specific directions on how to donate are provided in each opportunity.

More to come in the next few weeks

Now that the API is finally done our mobile teams have their hands free to continue developing the Android, iOS and Windows phone mobile applications. They have already done so much but there is still some work. A piece of cake for our Android (Ivan Ferdelja, Tomislav Novoselec, Ante Barišić, Davor Kus, Tomislav Homan), iOS (Drago Ružman, Miran Brajša, Dino Bartošak, Ivana Rast, Zoran Pleško, Vedran Kralj) and Windows phone teams (Toni Petrina, Stipe Grbić)

Using mobile apps users can browse and search ads, post ads and send inquiries. We hope this information would also help volunteers that are more connected to the people that might need help and have no way of asking for help.

The hard working content team – Luka Pavličić, Barbara Slade Jagodić, Sonja Stahor, Mario Poje, Robert Tomašević, Verica Katić, Andreja Piskač, Tena Å kiljević, Ante Jurjević – helped the teams with copywriting, UX, photographing, filming and community management.

And a special thanks to the coordinators, Merlin Rebrović and Bojana Mandić, who decided to organize this endeavor with me and made it all happen.

Aside from being a fun way for developers to spend their time and meet new people, the hackathon Cipele46 taught us a larger lesson. It`s important to collaborate because we can do great stuff together. Our goal wasn`t individual competition but the success of the entire project. And the exciting thing is that the project gathered people from different professions that sat together and created a web platform from scratch for a greater cause. And this was the reason why we decided to host the hackathon. More pics from the hackathon can be found on our Facebook fan page.

Never too late to help out

We urge everyone that would like to help maintain and upgrade the platform to join us. Although the Web site is in Croatian and the initiative is local, you can help by writing some code and making a pull request. Check out Github for project repositories.

Thanks everyone who helped out and are continuing to unselfishly devote time to make this project happen. There is a large number of people willing to help those in need. Let`s help them connect.

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