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The Ruby Hackathon Roundup

April 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

48 Hours. 4 Coders. 1 Awesome Web-app.

Last month we hosted a Ruby Hackathon over the weekend. We had a truckload of applications from college students, working professionals, college professors (!), and one application from Gujarat! We weren’t geared to host such a big & diverse crowd.

So, we stuck to the plan and and picked 4 bright college kids, who had programmed in C/C++/Java earlier, but were otherwise completely new to Ruby.

And here’s what they built: ShareMyCab

We’re extremely proud of what all of us achieved here. A bunch of college students, completely new to Ruby, put together a working app that actually solves a consumer problem. In less than 48 hours!

About ShareMyCab

Most hackathons build something academic, like an API client for X in language Y (where X is one of Twitter, Facebook, Imgur, etc. and Y is one of Clojure, Erlang, Go, etc.) We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to take a shot at solving an actual problem — something which could possibly get used in the real world. (And obviously something that we could finish in 48 hours).

With our experience of flying in & out of Goa, Hyderabad, & Bangalore),ShareMyCab was just the thing that we needed. A way to discover other travellers landing at around the same time & taking a cab to around the same place as you. So that you can hook-up and split the cab fare. Save money and meet interesting people.

The 48 Hours

Here’s a lowdown on what happened during the 48 hours…

Day 1

  • Six intense 40 min sessions around Ruby, following by programming exercises.
  • Discussing the ShareMyCab app and all its moving parts.
  • Dividing the work up into four chunks, one for each participant:
    • Ruby class to model a trip & take care of DB persistence
    • Functions to take a trip object, figure out matching trips, and send out notification emails to users
    • Plumbing between the form, the trip model, and the trip-matching code (the controller)
    • Autocomplete for the drop-location built in Ruby on top of the Google Places API
  • Code, eat, sleep (repeat)
  • Did we mention dinner over a movie? ( Pirates of the Silicon Valley)

Day 2

  • Traditional Goan breakfast from Bhonsle Cafe (bhaji-pao from Bhonsle Cafe)
  • Frantic coding till lunch-time
  • Assembling all the moving parts
  • Live-editing the bugs on a projector screen
  • Spontaneous applause & cheer when the app finally started working!

Post processing

Last week, we spent a day cleaning up the code & UI, removing some SQL injection bugs & hard-coded passwords from the code, and pushing it to Heroku.

In fact, the Friday before that, one of the participants came down to our office to fix a pending bug in his code. Talk about being code-kicked!

And voila, you have ShareMyCab Built by 4 complete newbies in Ruby under 48 hours.

The technology stack

Ruby, Sinatra, Postgres, jQuery, HTML, CSS, Javascript. Code on Github.Deployed on Heroku.


A hat-tip to our friends over at Beard Design for designing the mockups for ShareMyCab. You guys rock!

A big thank you to Bhagyesh, Vandita, & Ashwin for all the running around in making the event happen.

And kudos to Tanay, Ankit, Rajdeep, & Shanker for braving the 48 hours and building something awesome. Way to go!

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