Recapping the Microsoft Facebook Hackathon

Here in DPE we love to get together with other developers and code. It is a great way to learn new technologies and have a lot of fun doing it.

So last weekend’s hackathon with Facebook and Microsoft wasn’t really out of the ordinary — but we’re pretty excited about the results.

After some nice work by both teams getting Facebook Login running on Windows and Windows Phone in the early fall — it was time to sit down with developers and crank out some code enabling socially connected Windows and Windows Phone apps. So on Jan. 17 about 75 people were greeted by developers from both companies at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park.

Facebook’s Peter Yang kicked it off by explaining how the Facebook Login can improve the monetization and conversion rate for your app.

As you can see in the following video, Dhiren Patel gave a broad overview of the architecture of the Facebook Login, and provided some best practices on using it to maximize the chances of users logging into the app. He also highlighted the differences between the Windows Phone 8 and Windows Store Facebook Login technologies.

Sanjeev Dwivedi from my team covered the opportunity offered by the Windows and Windows Phone platforms and then walked everyone step-by-step through using the Facebook Login within Windows and Windows Phone apps.

As well, Nokia’s Paras Wadhera talked about Nokia’s DVLUP program, which offers a variety of benefits to developers who are building Windows Phone applications. When the talks concluded, the floor was opened for people to get cranking on building their apps.

There was a good mix of developers with various skill levels, all the way from people who were novices to Windows and Windows Phone to those who were longtime, hard-core systems developers. As the evening progressed, it was great to see developers building applications solo, or collaborating with perfect strangers to form a team. And with about an hour into the hackathon, people were heads down on hacking.

When finished, all the teams presented their apps, and here are just a few of the interesting apps that we created:

  • Aslar – Ask questions to your Facebook group anonymously and receive answers anonymously. (three-person team)
  • PartyHost – Organize a party by automatically searching through your friends list and finding all their likes and the common tastes in the group, from which you create a Nokia Music playlist and then interface with Nokia Music to play the music. (one-person team)
  • CipherChat – Use the Off-the-Record chat protocol to chat with each other without anyone being able to intercept the chat. The tricky part was porting over the OTR library from other platforms to Windows Phone and make it open source. (three-person team)
  • Event organizer – Use the Facebook event API to scrape events from Eventbrite and post them as events to Facebook, making Facebook the single provider for event management (one-person team)
  • POM.IO – Timer for Pomodoro Technique. Integration with Facebook shows when a friend will be available for chatting, etc., so that friends know how long they will need to wait until they can get a response or initiate a connection. (three-person team)

This was a great time, and we hope we’ll get a chance to code with you at a future event. In the meantime, keep hacking and building great apps! 

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