Hacknight @ Multunus

We had a very successful hacknight here at multunus yesterday (Jan 25, 2013). This was our 5th or 6th hacknight. And why it is very successful because we could complete all the 3 applications which we planned to do. Last time our team couldn’t finish the app completely. We started by 10:30 PM, and there were 8 participants. We came up with ideas and selected 3 out of them, 2 team with 3 members and one team with 2 members. The ideas were:

  1. An obstacle detection app based on Arduino board [Akshay, Anup, Vimal]
  2. A Chrome extension for broadcasting URL [Abhilash, Sandeep, Manoj]
  3. Scrollee - an app which scrolls the content across the screens (Multiple monitors) [Midhun, Ernest]

So I form a pair with Sandeep to work on the BroadcastIt app. We came up with the tasks and spikes. We have selected node.js to implement the server part. We worked on the spikes and we were confident that it can be done. By 1:30 AM we have done with the basic app. That is the server part and client using the normal page. So we were able to show the demo of broadcasting URL to others. The next task was to integrate the client with the extension.

Then we faced the first problem, that is the extension is not able load the socket.io.js file. The chrome extension can load js files only from inside the package or from an external URL which is secured(https). We have tried to include the socket.io.js onside the extension package, that didn’t work. Then searched for socket.io cdn URLs. We found a cdn URL for socket.io, and that problem got fixed.

So almost done with the app. On click of the extension it will popup a small dialog with Broadcast button, on cllick of that will broadcast the current tab URL to all other browsers which installed this extension. When we have done with this it was around 2:30 AM. But then the next problem, the extension will work only when the popup is showing. When the popup is closed the extension can’t listen to the server event.

For chrome extension we can have background scripts and pages. We spend around 1 hr learning these and found a solution to fix this problem. We removed showing the popup and started running the script in background. So it will listen to the server in background. So now when we install the extension, it can broadcast the current tab URL to other browsers which are installed the extension. It was 4:30 AM.

Then we thought of extending the app by introducing channel, by adding options to the extension. The options page will ask the user to enter a channel, and the URL will broadcast only to those browsers who are selected the same channel. We were able to create the options page and saving the channel for a browser. But we couldn’t complete the broadcast only to the same channel browsers, because it was morning 6 Am and we had to create a final video of the demo.

So it was a very nice experience having successfully completing an app that we started with the idea, implementation and finally showing the demo. It was very fun too, we didn’t feel asleep at all. Once I get the demo videos link, I will add it here :) Here is the demo videos :)

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