After spending a night on the floor with our fellow hackers, our team noticed a glaring flaw in the preparation of our peers, no one had brought a sleeping bag! Hacker after hacker could be found on the floor, face in the carpet, often using the event t-shirt as their only source of warmth. Along with this realization, our team soon recognized that hackers were often sleeping throughout the day! In the unique environment that a hackathon provides, hackers often stay up all hours of the night, refusing sleep until midday or later. As such, there is consistently a group of hackers with unused sleeping bags as well as a group in dire need of them. We saw this as a challenge, and decided to aim our efforts towards the betterment of the hackathon experience for everyone around us by providing hackers a streamlined service to facilitate the communization of the sleeping bag!
What it does
HackBag provides a service that connects hackers quickly and easily, allowing them to post their need for a sleeping bag and the time slot in which the borrower will be needing it. Generous hackers are then able to accept and meet with borrowers to donate their beds. When their time slot has expired, borrowers are directed to a hackaton-organized common area to return their borrowed bags, and even tip the lender a dollar if they choose! (coming soon)
How we built it
We started with many plans of integrations. We wanted to add a Venmo funds transfer capability after a sleeping bag exchange, gamification of the platform with good-will points for the Hackathon organizers and hackers, sleeping bag scheduling feature to maximize overall bag use during the hackathon… but with the limited time we had, we could only build the main feature: to allow two hackers hack and sleep at their preferred times.
We started doing it web because we wanted to learn more web development. The technologies we used are Bootstrap for styling and markup, jQuery to manage transitions, PHP as our backend language, and Parse.com as our database.
Challenges we ran into
Our team ran into a plethora of bugs, both minor and major, but out greatest hurdle was figuring out how our users would best benefit from our service. We wanted our service to be free to all, and with that were forced to prioritize convenience and ease of use above all else. As a result, we often took the long way around, coding rough forests of NULL pointers and seas of hidden abstraction to provide our users with the most intuitive interface possible.
What we learned
What's next for HackBag
After developing this basic prototype, we are planning to develop Android and iOS versions of our app. We hope to make this service available to hackers and organizers nationwide. We hope to usher in an age of sound sleep for all!