HackTO: API hacking in Toronto!

On Saturday May 15, Toronto’s finest hackers and developers gathered at the ideeplex in Toronto for some serious geekery at the first ever HackTO hack-a-thon.

Being social… or being too busy to be social!

The challenge? Build a sexy web application using any combination of open APIs made available by our fantastic sponsors: Canpages, Freshbooks, Idee, OPENapps and PostRank. Oh, and build it in UNDER FOUR HOURS.

The reward? Besides total geek-cred, the top three applications received either an iPad, a $500 gift certificate for the Apple store or a $250 gift certificate for Amazon. All applications developed remained property of their creators, of course… this event was for people-meeting and stuff-strutting!

As part of the HackTO schedule we decided to introduce an unconference component:  developers put their application ideas up on a white board and specified if they were looking for a team member to work with, or if they were going “rogue” independently. We ended up with a pretty good combination of rogue developers and teams. A total of 13 applications were outlined on the board by 10:30, which was our coding start time.

Yours truly thinking of more illustrative doodles for the whiteboard

Off to the races. Competition was stiff, coffee was flowing, laptops were clacking, and some creative work spaces began to sprout up…

Of course somewhere along the way we needed to break for food, although it was hard to tear some hackers away from their laptops just when they’d hit a groove! But  two, three, or TEN slices of pizza later it was back to business.

Yummy pie from Pizzaiolo…

…some of us liked it more than others!

Shortly after lunch, it was serious CRUNCH TIME. The only sounds to be heard were furious fingers flailing on keyboards, the clinking of coffee spoons, the crunching of carbs, and the occasional %#$@! For some, helmets were required gear for getting down to the nitty gritty.

Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

Several pints of blood, sweet and tears later, finishing touches were made and laptops were closed. Each team presented their awesome application to the crowd, and to our wonderful panel of judges whom we would like to thank from the bottom of our collective geeky hearts: Jonas Brandon, April Dunford and Joe Stump. Thanks, dudes!

There were so many great apps, it was hard to choose the winners. But without further ado, here is what the judges selected:

Honourable mention (for lolz)

Million-Dollar Microsite-Maker by Nick Hoffman and Andrew Louis

Pick a topic and a city in Canada (e.g. dating in Toronto), then fill out a form to instantly assemble a web site complete with content, local business listings and advertising. Uses the CanPages API.

Get rich quick!

Honourable mention (Application by a sponsoring team)

Soleil by Mark Bloore and Martine Vong

Submit an image, and Soleil breaks it down into a grid of colour, then replaces each colour in the grid with a similarly-coloured image to create a mosaic version of the original image. Uses Idee’s Piximilar API.

Submitted image
Result mosaic image!

Runner up

Image Statter by Rida Al Barazi

Grab a set or feed of images, identify those images that come from the highest-ranking source (e.g. sources with many incoming/outgoing links or flagged as interesting), and extract the image colours to create colour templates. Get a pie-chart breakdown of how each colour is used proportionally within the image. Uses the PostRank and Piximilar APIs.

Third place (winner of the $250 Amazon gift certificate)

Feed Me by Taylan Pince

Submit any web site address with an RSS feed, or provide your Google Reader feeds to receive a list of suggested feeds based on your interests. Uses the PostRank API.

Hungry for new feeds?

Second place (winner of the $500 Apple store certificate)

Photosimilar by James Hatheway and Libin Pan

Take a photo with your iPhone or select a photo from your iPhone’s image gallery, and find visually similar images on the web (e.g. images with the same look, feel, colours, etc.). Uses the Piximilar API.

First place (winner of a 32GB iPad)

what the colour?! by Mo Jangda

Submit a colour palette from colourlovers.com and retreive images that contain either all of the colours in that palette, or images matching individual colours in the palette. Click on your result images to find even more palette-inspired images. Uses the Piximilar API with colourlovers.com.

Who doesn’t love colour?!

Congratulations to the winners, and a huge round of applause to everyone who participated in this very first hack-a-thon.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished with great minds and a tight deadline!

It was great to meet you all, and we hope you had fun. If you are looking to connect with anyone that you met at HackTO, don’t forget that the names, faces and Twitter accounts of everyone at the event are available right here.

We are already excited about planning the next event, so we’ll see you again soon… keep hacking!

P.S. PostRank: here’s some love for you courtesy of Soleil!

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