iOSDevCamp 2012: The CrowdCompass Experience

CrowdCompass at iOSDevCamp 2012Six of our app developers took off last weekend for camp—iOSDevCamp, that is. What is iOSDevCamp? It’s an unconference where tech nerds (developers, designers, testers, entrepreneurs, etc.) gather to create new iOS applications within two days.

Building a functional and effective app in two days isn’t easy. It means a lot of work and little sleep. It also means a lot of giggling fits from delirious developers. Before the CrowdCompass team even got to iOSDevCamp, they started working on their app idea during the plane ride down to San Jose, California.

Kevin Steigerwald—our Senior Interactive Architect and a newbie to iOSDevCamp—came up with the app idea that ended up winning “Best Hardware.” After attending a rehearsal dinner where no one could hear the speech from the father of the groom, he was inspired to solve this problem with an app that delivered and amplified sound through a Jambox. The result of their 20-hour days was MegaJam.

Despite their 7:45AM-3AM work schedule, our QA engineer, Robert Corlett, had a great experience. “Everybody’s welcome there,” he said. “It’s a really good environment that promotes collaboration and sharing code.” He also described it as a total nerd hacker scene with tons of junk food, soda, and beanbag chairs.

iOSDevCamp also gave Robert the opportunity to spend a lot of time working on iPhone development instead of QA. “Kevin designed the entire user interface and I was given the chance to do most of the coding during the implementation.” While Robert felt his development abilities took leaps and bounds, Kevin got more experience with Xcode and doing direct one-on-one pairing.

Our build engineer, Kris Pethtel, went to the convention without knowing much about it. “I learned a lot more about the programming world,” he said. “Programmers work very hard to accomplish something that no one may ever use…or if they think they might win an iPad,” he joked.

And while it was a competition on some level, that’s not what it was really about. “It motivated me to learn more about iOS. There were mentors who would work with you for extended periods of time with no real reward. Open sourcing was a big priority, too. It wasn’t about money. It was about passion and collaboration.” Inspired by the collaborative spirit, Kris held a seminar on code re-signing.

Spending that much time together didn't even phase the CrowdCompass team. “We worked all week at CrowdCompass, traveled together to San Jose, and then worked all weekend. Our experience at iOSDevCamp was more proof that we have a great team," said Kevin.

Coding on the plane

CrowdCompass at iOSDevCamp

Alex & Kevin on their iPhones

Presenting MegaJam

The winners of "Best Hardware"

iOSDevCamp 2012

iOSDevCamp is a not-for-profit developer event for iOS. Around 500 iOS developers from all over the world gathered at the eBay headquarters to develop apps, share their knowledge, and network. This year’s event had over 71 Hackathon submissions and focused on women in technology. There was also a lot of participation from kids under 15. The organizers are Raven Zachary (a Portland native!), Dom Sagolla, and Christopher Allen.

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