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Patrick Debois

Hupskadee: Babysit 2.0

The last 3 weeks we created a new Web Application called Hupskadee for the Inca09 Awards. It essentially is 'find a babysit' site. It differs from traditional babysit sites where you first have to enter your whole life. We took the concept of Doodle to simply create a babysit request in three steps. Once created you can email the links, put it on your facebook wall, or send it to an babysit organization.

To demonstrate the further use, we created a widget that event sites can include in their site. With one press of a button, people can create a babysit request for the duration of the event. Samples can be seen on the Vooruit staging site and on Gladiolen 10Jaar.

During three weeks, I worked with a team with mixed skills: Hendrik with his CSS foo, Wio with his Pixel foo and Elise with her Ruby/Rails foo. It was the first time I worked with such a team outside the context of a traditional projects. I must say, I learned a lot. It is amazing to see all these different skills at work! We benefited largely from the fact that we each had one speciality BUT a rather large background outside the speciality, turning us into a multiskilled team. On the technical side we played with facebook integration, screenscraping (hpricot), geocoding, geosearching, mod_rails and capistrano-ext. It was also my first GIT project, and I must say I'm sold.

For this kind of 'volunteer' projects traditional project skills don't cut it. We worked in an Agile spirit: Working software is all that matters. But one of the downsides was that we were not co-located. Each of us worked from home and we communicated over Skype. The Skype chat-box created a hangout place for us to utter our relevant and not-relevant tasks. Initally we tried tinyPM as a Scrum Project Mgt. tools. It's a good tool, but eventually we started submitting new request in Lighthouse system.

Mostly in the beginning when the architecture was shaping up, we suffered from dis-location. It's hard to communicate the architecture over skype. Also we had difference in coding style: because I have a mostly java background, I still tend to code Java style in Rails. Seeing Elise at work in the code with real Rails-code never kept to amaze me. Such expressiveness in that language, but it took me a lot of googling sometimes to understand it ;-) Personally I learned that I have a small tendency to build things from scratch, because then I understand things better. Ofcourse reusing a library makes more sense, but I guess this from my sysadmin background of keeping things understandable.

It took a lot of sleep away, but there was clearly enough adrenaline to keep me going. Now I'm sleeping again, but still dream of hupskadee's future.

The final winner announcement of the competition will be at the IBBT Iminds Event on 12 may 2009. It's an interesting Innovation event, free to everyone.