Renee Meyer
A toast to the good life 🥂✨


A toast to the good life 🥂✨

Free Solo: The Hackathon Edition Pt 1

Free Solo: The Hackathon Edition Pt 1

** the typos are intentional **

Renee Meyer's photo
Renee Meyer
·Jul 29, 2022·

5 min read

So, I have decided to do this Hashnode/Planetscale hackathon. As a full stack developer that's been making enterprise b2b software for the greater part of her career, the mere mention of "open source" sent me in to a KPI/OKR-less panic but as I began to think about the trophy, the prize money, and the chance to finally re-live my liveJournal days of yesteryear, I decided this was a chance I really couldn't give up.

It worked for Mark Zuckerberg in that one movie, that one time, so I have decided to take you along with me on the software development process through this hackathon. Also, over the years, I've come to learn that building software is a team sport. I'm doing this hackathon solo thus you, dear reader, will act as my conduit genius team mate and co captain - you're the blue ranger.

Let's get to work.

Phase I - Planning

I want to have fun with this hackathon. No fun = bad code = unhappy Renee. So the goal is to solve a real world problem that I can empathize with / relate to. Something that actually is happening in my life and my friend's lives.

Let's start with some background: I live in Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world. For the greater part of my life, it's also felt like the bachelor/bachelorette/weekend trip capital of the world. Every Thursday, starting in the spring, my dms, and those of my friends get flooded with the typical "I'm coming to Austin this weekend with some friends, where should we go?". I get it, it's a magical town and it's fun, but it's hard to know where to go when you visit. There are nuances in the Austin night life and people have different expectations of their trip. I usually try and figure out what type of vibe they're going for and what they're interested in doing. Google maps just doesn't cut it when figuring out where you should go. Think about when you recommend a restaurant to a friend. You have to scroll through pictures to make sure the ambiance is right, see if it's good for couples, or groups. You want your friends to have a good time, so there should be people there, but not too many. 9 times out of 10 they want tacos or barbecue so you have to remember the new cool places to go. The list of "cool" requirements could go on and on.

So there's a gap. As my friend you need a cool place to go out in Austin. Maybe a place that's not too touristy but fun, or maybe to do something classically ~austin~, or maybe you want to hit the town and see the where the hot eligible bachelors 1 are? What are you supposed to do? Search "hot single guys Austin" in Google maps? No. That's creepy. You would most likely reach out to a good friend that lives in the area that could give you recommendations based on what you want to do. And frankly, this isn't a problem that people in Austin experience. Travel is absolutely booming this summer, despite high gas prices, people are flocking to major metropolitan ares and popular travel designations for a lot of work and leisure travel source. TLDR: there's a good chance that your junior year roommate's fiancé's sister is coming to town and she hits you up on instagram for suggestions of where to go.

It's an exhaustive process for us both honestly, and I as your super cool, outgoing, and all knowing friend, need a somewhat simple way to recommend a cool place to go to based on the vibe that they're looking for.

They need an experience suggestion, I need an easy way to keep track of the restaurants, bars, and activities that I would recommend to my friends coming to town. I need like a little Clippy that can suggest something fun for my friends to do based on the time of day and the vibe they're looking for. I'm thinking a super simple web page or pwa that has a suggestion of something I would be doing right now (based on the time of day and temp because Austin is hot AF) and a field where they could enter what vibe they're going for. The genius logic that I build will search for and return the cool Austin experience that I would recommend.


Ok. Time to whiteboard the user problem out. I literally write out my process in English on a whiteboard, then the desired process. God, there's something magical about a whiteboard....Anyway, goal here is to start to identify popular entities and their relationships to each other to start to get an understanding of where I want to go with schema design. I'm not gonna lie, I mostly copy Jake Knapp's genius Sprint brainstorming steps and add some wine.

I guess we can get into the nitty gritty of my process. For this, and most full stack apps, I try my best do data driven development. So, I start with the UX and nail down the user requirements, then I build the front end and work on the mock endpoints in Postman. This will set me up for what data I need to store in the back and how the user will expect to interact with this. Then I do database, finish in the middle at the api3. Usually with auth, if I need it, then deployment, because they're my least favorite 🥰

Ok so let's start with the white boarding. Future posts will cover the subsequent steps. I'll most likely go to a system where I do a checkin every couple hours on progress.

Happy Trails 🐎 Renee

The problem whiteboard in question

(remember this is a no judgement zone on my handwriting)


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  1. Literally, Austin has an alarming amount of previous successful & failed Bachelor cast members...
  2. source: Also Airlines have the best apps, UX wise. After 3 glasses of wine, the Southwest App starts to feel like a game. I have an incredible amount of trips planned for this fall, cheers to remote work 🍻 ammirite?

  3. I have no idea if it's the best way to build an app, but it's my current way, and it's been working fine for like 8 years so I seems pretty infallible to me. I also can do it pretty fast now, if I do say so myself.

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