On May 3 & 4, WPP and Yahoo! came together to host the first WPP Hackday at Ogilvy’s trendy digs in New York City. The challenge? Build a new product or service using Yahoo! + other open-source technologies. JWT has over 2,000 digital experts in its realms so we flew in a dedicated team of four of our smartest, from all corners of the network. A big cheers to Matt Payne, Head of Technology at JWT London; Peter Bailey, Systems Architect at JWT Dallas; Nick Davison, Director of Web Development at Digitaria and Mike Nelson, Lead User Interface Developer at Heath Wallace in London for coming together to make Flipmote in just over 24hrs. Hold on to your inner geek, because here comes the code-talk…
Last year we unveiled dotJWT as a new initiative to bring together the best digital talent across JWT’s global network. Since then dotJWT teams have been delivering sweet digital solutions to tackle our client’s problems. But nothing could illustrate exactly what dotJWT is all about better than the recent Yahoo! Hackathon held at Ogilvy New York.
Nick’s early concerns about “getting people who’ve never worked together, don’t trust each other yet and [...] need to protect their own teams” being a potential recipe for disaster at a hackathon were quickly allayed just hours after arriving in town for the event and swapping stories with his fellow hackers over pizza. Bring together four top notch digital specialists and watch the magic happen.
The hackathon teams were tasked with finding a WPP client-relevant problem and building a working prototype to solve it, within 24 short hours. Out of the gates, the guys had already discovered their inspiration: they would design wireless remotes that could be built with a mobile phone to control a computer’s browser. This tool, which they called Flipmote, would free presenters from being achored to a laptop at a podium.
“Hackdays should be about pushing technologies to their limits and solving problems as a community.”
Swiftly working around challenges, Mike and Matt noted that “issues like [finding a YUI bug] is exactly what hackdays should be about—pushing technology to the limit and solving problems as a community.” After 8-10 hours of plugging away through the night, they developed a solid core on which to add features.
“It was simple, it was effortless, it was elegant, it was beautiful.”
“Early in the morning we got our first taste of everything coming together. We could scroll pages up and down on our desktops, all from our phones. It was simple, it was effortless, it was elegant, it was beautiful. The grins on all our faces, as we played with it for the next ten minutes were all the proof in the world that we’d already won, whatever the judges said,” wrote Nick.
After building up the framework, they added on features including: changing browser tabs, opening new pages, navigating through browser history, and typing in direct URLs. Mike and Matt’s favorite feature involved providing a document hierarchy of headings and links on the mobile site that could be clicked to jump the browser to the relevant heading or link.
“I love that one and I can’t figure out how they did it!”
The solution was practical from so many angles. It was a liberating presentation tool, a multi-user meeting tool, and a seamless home theater remote. Although they didn’t take home the prize, Flipmote was a definite crowd favorite. Overheard from the event, someone from another team exclaimed, “I love that one and I can’t figure out how they did it!”
“dotJWT isn’t just a buzzword.”
Peter also noted that companies that “foster the development of great products for the ecosystem at large” include SensioLabs and Joyent—the developers responsible for Node.js, a key component to the dotJWT team hack project. “It felt really good to be a contributor, even if in a minor way, into this broader software ecosystem,” Peter said.
As participants in the global culture of the programmer, they represented JWT and built a new relationship to their worldwide coding family. Mike and Matt shared the view that “the last 32 hours had been more than just about building one hack. I had gotten to know the other team members well, on a personal level and in terms of their development skills and felt we’d shown that dotJWT isn’t just a buzzword but a whole collective, that is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Well done guys, we’re so proud of you. Awesome result.