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August 3, 2016

How to set up a kick-ass party for front-end developers?

Head of Product & Co-founder at Avocode and a former Lead Product Developer and Co-founder at MadebySource.

"I still write code. In fact that's what I love doing most."

20.5. 2016, Prague, Czech Republic The last preparations are done and the lights will soon go off. We are at the Avocode new office in a 103 years old cubist villa right on the Vltava river bank. First comers are just checking their names on the invite list. Code in the Dark is about to start…


What is Code in the Dark?

Take all the good things from a hackathon - like drinks, food, and computers. Then add more cool stuff - like fans, Tron-like interior design, time countdown, a DJ and an emcee. What you get is Code in the Dark. The concept of this events comes from Tictail, and since these guys made it open-source, we thought why not bring this event to the Czech Republic.

Here's the deal

We've carefully reviewed about 50 applicants and handpicked 16 competitors. Before kicking off the competition we announced two wild cards and asked for two volunteers to fill two more competing spots.

All in all 18 people competed for the post of the best front-end developer in the country.

The rules are quite simple:

1. There are 9 rounds, 3 competitors in each and two in the final one.

2. The coders sit behind a computer with a special Code in the Dark HTML editor.

3. First, they get a print screen of a simple website design.

4. Then they are asked to imitate it in HTML and CSS.

5. No previews, no browser, no measuring, just the assets and a place to code.

6. They've got 15 minutes.

Add something extra

About 70 people + our staff watched and supported the coders. We added an external monitor to each of the computers and turned the screens towards the users, so anyone could see the work in progress. To increase the pressure on the developers we asked the fans to report any cheating.

We also invited David Grudl, locally well-known developer and the author of the Nette Framework. He entertained the crowd from behind the mic throughout the evening.

After each round, we put up the original design to the big screen and the competitors previewed the result of their work on the external monitors and for five minutes we let the crowd vote which design resembles the original the best. To do that we used the Mentimeter voting app.

We spiced up the semifinals and the final round with some alcohol to make things more interesting.

The final design was a bit tricky - the goal was not just to resemble the design but also get a part of it moving by using in CSS.

Code in the Dark in numbers

  • 100+ people in house
  • 1 winner (Dušan Novák)
  • 120l of beer
  • 5 l of margarita
  • 10m2 of pizza
  • 3 bowls of guacamole

We'd like to thank all the attendees for coming and enjoying this epic evening with us. If you want to create your own Code in the Dark event, you are more than welcome to do so. If you need some inspiration, check out this link with the playlist, designs, and photos from our event.

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