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Le Training Day 2017

Elliot Coad Head of Development at Shortlist Media.

Our annual flagship hackathon returns!

It’s one of the brightest days in the tech team’s calendar: our annual all-team 24hr hackathon. The location? Paris, to honour the spiritual birthplace of our publishing platform, Croissant (although I’m told, its actually of Austrian decent).

With the advent of our latest product, Tapestry, we wanted to show off its ability to create new brands with novel functionality. 

Tapestry, for want of a full blog post, is a JavaScript/React renderer of our Croissant publishing platform. It allows us to work at (comparatively) breakneck speeds, with great agility! More details to follow.

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Travelling at 300km/h. Wifi speeds less impressive

It was an unceremoniously early start for the gang. But having split in to two competing teams, the desire to win helped shake off that 7AM feeling.

With internet connectivity struggling, somewhat comedic moments were the group trying to recall parts of various JavaScript library APIs.

Pulling in to Gare du Nord, both teams had paper wireframes, a non-synced Trello board, and some hacky code which had not yet been executed.

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The team assemble

Arriving at the coworker space the teams unleash in to a flurry of getting content in the CMSes (#content-first).

All the while project managers whipping up backlogs into Trello boards (we came up with VMVP - very minimum viable product).

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Glasses of black coffee. Nothing else until we’ve launched our products.

By the day’s end we had a fully fledged technical prototype from one of the teams, even complete with suprisingly advanced features! One being adaptive content tailoring, where the user’s browsing behaviour (both passive and implicit) builds up a filtered/sorted content list tailored to them.

The other team ran into third-party library snafus which really sank a lot of the dev time. However the concept is certainly strong enough to warrant some extra hours hacking.

Back at the ranch (our office in Holborn that no-one refers to as ranch) the following week we’ll have a further tinker before presenting it back to the wider teams for consideration of advancing further, and of course crowning a hackathon winner. The prize? A well earned lunch and well sought commendation!

I could not be prouder of what we managed to cram in to a day’s work. The creative use of the time, ability to flex the tools we’ve been working earnestly on, opportunities to skill swap, pair program/design, and launch an proof of concept combine to a heck of an efficient day. The 18 hours sure do take it out of you though - just the once a year thanks.

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Some of the team sink in to Aperol Spritz to unload the rapid prototyping

If you’d like to join the Shortlist Studio team do let yourself be known as Le Trip 2018 has another good few seats of various skilled developers to fill.