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How we broke the JavaScript speed limit in Krakow

Hackathons have a rich and storied tradition in the world of computer coding. Facebook has its all-night hackathons to create innovative and creative products. So does Making Waves in Krakow, Poland!

On Saturday March 15, 2014, Making Waves Polska hosted a JavaScript Hackathon (Officially: Making Software JS Performance Hackathon). The event was hosted in conjunction with meet.js Krakow, part of an initiative that promotes JavaScript and educates people about it. The all-day event had three purposes: to learn, to compete, and to have fun.

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More than 20 people attended: the majority were from Krakow, while some came from far beyond Krakow. In addition, 10 or so Making Waves staff and two representatives from meet.js were making sure that everything was according to plan.

This was the first time Making Waves had invited the general public to its JavaScript hackathon. Twice before Making Waves conducted a similar hackathon for its employees in Krakow and in Oslo.

The day started of with introductory remarks by Pawel Brod and Konrad Dzwinel, who work at Making Waves. Their job was to explain the basics of the day to help everybody participate in the day’s events. This was followed by a 3-hour coding competition comprised of three performance optimisation tasks involving using proper algorithms, DOM manipulation and canvas animations. Prizes were given to the winners. Each of the winners received a Raspberry Pi with some extras.

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As everyone knows, the way to a coders’ hearts is through their stomachs, so lunch followed the competition. Making Waves provided lunch for the participants in the on-site company canteen.

In the afternoon, representatives from meet.js, along with their invited guests, conducted nearly two hours of presentations. Topics included JavaScript best practices, Shadow DOM, working with Canvas and much more.

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One might wonder how the day went. Did people enjoy themselves? Perhaps we will let the participants speak for themselves. Participants were provided with a survey in which they could evaluate the day’s events. This is some of what they had to say. For the record, the survey was anonymous.

I wish this event lasted for 6 weeks so that I could take a vacation from work, seat here and learn all the good stuff!”

“I enjoyed the competition and meet.js presentations. It was great to see other people results during the coding time, they were extremely motivating to think harder and find those optimisations!”

“The atmosphere, professionalism, good planning and good timing. There was not a second to get bored. I also liked the prizes and the food.”

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It is fair to say that the day met its goals. The staff at Making Waves expanded its community by making new friends and acquaintances while at the same time helping people learn more about JavaScript. But most importantly, coders from Krakow and beyond learned, had fun, and got to know others in the coding community.

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