It’s Devfest season 2013! All over the world, different Google developers groups are hosting their own Devfests. GDG Lusaka decided to host theirs last week as their first ever GDG DevFest. Fueled by pizza and the lifeblood of our Google nerd herd, the first GDG Lusaka Devfest was pretty successful and with a great starting crowd it will be one that we will share memories of for a long time to come.
So what do you need to know about DevFest? DevFests are community-led events that have technical sessions centered around Google developer technologies and platforms like Google Maps, Google Cloud Platform, Android, and Google+. They are organized annually by local Google Developer Groups (GDGs), around the world. This season, there were over 160 DevFests happening across the world and Lusaka was one of about 20 countries having a DevFest for the first time.
The GDG Devfest was set over the weekend of the 19th October. The two days comprised of two training sessions for selected Google technologies: The Google Maps API and Google Plus integration and a hackathon to work on the Official GDG Lusaka App.
On the first day of the event, we kicked off by looking at the updated Google Maps API to integrate into applications and, later, into the GDG Lusaka mobile application. The session was led by Francis, the GDG co-manager, who showed us the plugins and tools needed to successfully implement the google maps API in applications. It took a while for everyone to get started, especially with us all working in command line but once it was all set up and the first user successfully managed to get their prototype working, we all shared the sense of accomplishment and from then on, it was smooth sailing for the rest of us.
After the session ended, we broke off for lunch and to get ready for our next hands on session, which would involve us learning how to integrate various features of Google+ into html code such as the +1 button, profile badges, embedded posts and profile in. This session was perfect for beginners interested in learning to make sites and apps that use the features of social networks to be more outstanding. We also watched a few videos that showed the advantages Google+ presents over other social networks both for developers and users. The session ended with some brainstorming over what we would add to the GDG Lusaka app in the following days hackathon.
Having acquired all that we could on the first day, the second day was set aside for a hackathon to work on the GDG Lusaka App as a group. The coding involved the addition of features suggested by GDG Lusaka members to make the app more functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Being a slow Sunday, we only managed to get everyone together to start working on the app at 11AM. But after some practice sessions and delegation, the rest of the day followed with a coding sprint that was interrupted only for a brief lunch break. Our dedication surprised us and we had a great looking prototype for the app by 4PM which left us an hour to celebrate, network, binge on junk food and take some fun photos.
The event was overall pretty much enjoyable. It was one of our most productive sessions. Besides going home with great goodies, the knowledge that our guests left with was invaluable in making dynamic applications. We can’t wait to meet again. We’re already anticipating what next year will bring.