Firefox Add-ons Overnight Hackathon, Hyderabad

Mozilla Hyderabad is known for Overnight and 24 Hr Hackathons, Codesprints, Hacksprints and Devcamps. This time we organized an Incredible overnight Hackathon, First of its kind dedicated to Firefox Add-ons development using WebExtensions as a part of #Mozactivate Campaign. It took me 2 days to come back to my senses after 40hrs of No-sleep weekend to write this blogpost and it is definitely worth it.

Few Highlights about the Hackathon

  • Caitlin Neiman, Community Manager of Add-ons team joined us for a short discussion and Q&A with the participants.
  • Participants built 20+ Add-ons and gave a demo at the end of the Hackathon
  • Redbull sponsored us with free drinks for the Hackathon( I never thought Redbull could help you stay awake all night and feel the energy ) Thanks Redbull and Anurag \o/
  • Expected around 40 people but 100 Developers turned up for the Hackathon.
  • All the participants who converted their ideas into Add-ons were given T-shirts.

We started the event with an Introduction from Vineel about Mozilla and Mozilla Hyderabad, I continued the Hackathon with a talk on Firefox Add-ons, Few statistics about Add-ons eco-system, WebExtensions, Why Add-ons system is broken and How WebExtensions fix it, Firefox 57, Architecture of WebExtensions etc. You can find my presentation here. Then we had a Hangout call with Caitlin Neiman, Community Manager of Add-ons team. She spoke about Firefox and Add-ons, WebExtensions and answered a number of Q&A from the participants. Thank you so much caitlin for taking your time, Joining us and motivating participants in building browser add-ons.

A lot of things Happened during the Hackathon. I gave a demo on the first add-on I built and explained the anatomy of WebExtension using the same add-on. This was thus used as a boilerplate by the participants in getting started and debugging an add-on on firefox browser. We distributed the Add-ons Hacksheets for all the participants which provides the important links to all learning and developing resources along with communication channels.

We had Pizzas for dinner. A refrigerator filled with Redbulls and Coke kept us awake all night.

In the night we played an Interestingly amazing Ice-breaker called “Ducky Fuzz”. You should speak to Madhukar to know more details about it. It was fun and game changer for the night ahead.

At the end of the Hackathon participants gave a demo on what they have built in an overnight. We ended the Hackathon by distributing Add-on themed pendrives(thanks caitlin for sending them over) to the winners and T-shirts for all the participants.

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We were so glad and excited to see the Ideas converted into actual add-ons in an overnight and Over 14 teams gave a demo on 20+ add-ons they build in the Hackathon.

Few things we could Improve next time

  • Wifi connection, we were not prepared to handle 200+ devices.
  • Technical issues, we should upgrade our devices and systems to save time and better handle such huge events. (all our cables, projectors, casting didn’t work at the right time)
  • Feedback system, Already notified the reps team with improvements that are need in our existing system.

Next steps for me

  • Manage learning resources in our firefox-addons repo on github
  • Using the feedback from our event to improve the Mozactivate format
  • Encourage people with continuous contributions by featuring them on newsletters.
  • Asking contributors to apply for ‘Friends of Add-on’ contest.

Thank you so much Vineel for Hosting us at Collab house and Thank you Madhukar, Giridhar, Sai Vishwanath, Akhil and Deepak for helping me with the Hackathon.

This is just a beginning of a lot. Looking forward to grow the Add-ons community in India.

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Speaking at WeAreDevelopers Conference-2017

I’m just back from an amazing conference in Vienna, Austria and can’t wait to share my experience with you all. I was really glad that my talk proposal on “Building your own Pokemon world in web based vitual reality” got selected for the conference and was really excited as this is going to my first talk at a European conference.

The conference turned out to be really Huge than expected with 3800+ Audience and 400+ specifically for my talk. I was really glad to meet a number of VR experts at the VR booths from many companies working on Innovative VR projects. I even tried out Holo-lens at the Microsoft booth ❤ and made a number of friends in the VR community. I never knew that the VR community is so huge in Europe. I loved the discussions on How the future of VR would be, especially about the negative/evil side, backdrops for VR Technology. I was really surprised when other speakers were using A-frame in their VR demos in the open hall discussions.

I had my talk on Day-1 and it was titled “Building your own Pokemon world in web based Virtual Reality” with a goal to make the audience understand that you don’t need to be a geeky developer to build your own VR experiences. Here goes my presentation link. (Video recording will be updated soon)

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Questions I was asked after my talk:

  • What type of 3D assets can we use in our A-frame Scene
  • Is there any drag and drop toolkit to create VR experiences using A-frame.

Suggestions for the conference

  • All though I was provided with travel instructions to reach the venue, It would have been really helpful if speakers are provided with travel-tips like what travel passes to buy, what are food options available, Weather in Vienna during conference.
  • Providing enough plug points at the Speaker Hub.
  • Creating a group chat or slack channel for speakers which would have helped me to find like minded speakers and prepare for interesting discussions.
  • Decent updates and followups to the speakers( I never received an email of the schedule of my talk or insights/followup after the conference)

It was great to be a part of the conference, Talking and meeting VR enthusiasts, making a lot of like-minded new friends and Having lot of fun with tons of swag.

Glad to be a part of We are developers Conference and Thank you WAD for the invitation, Looking forward to see you next year.

Speaking at Fossasia-2017

Last weekend I got an opportunity to speak about Web based virtual reality at Fossasia-2017, one of the asia’s largest open source conference. My first talk at a conference outside India was also at Fossasia-2015 where I spoke about Webmaker tools and How individuals can become web makers from being just web users.

Fossasia-17 was organized at science center, Singapore and it was one of the amazing conference with diversified participants from different countries, backgrounds, domains, age groups etc.

I spoke about “Creating your Pokemon world in Web based Virtual Reality”. You can find the recording here. This is my first talk about WebVR and it was pretty exciting for me that my first talk about WebVR is at an International Conference. You can find my talk slides here.

We had a busy booth with 100’s of diversified people visiting us everyday and sharing their thoughts about what they loved about WebVR and how could they use this technology in their domain and make things happen. When someone asks me about what they could do with WebVR then I would say ‘Sky is the limit’. A chemistry professor visited our booth and gave us a usecase of how he could use WebVR to teach his students about 3D projection of chemical compounds, which I never thought of.

Science center was similar to Science museum in Hyderabad except with advanced equipment and a lot more interesting projects. I loved being their and experiencing most of them especially the VR experience room where you could fly over a city and ride a 4D roller coaster with VR headsets.

I’m so happy that I got an opportunity to met Incredible people, Vanessa and Chris from the AR/VR community in Singapore.

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and Yeah this is our team of Mozilla Tech Speakers who participated in Fossasia.

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and This is whole of Fossasia volunteers, speakers, workshop wranglers.

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What I learnt?

  • Carry as many name cards as you can when you go for a conference
  • Make a QR code board which redirects the participants to the link of the demo you are showing at the booth ( WebVR in this case )
  • Prepare a lot more content than you are actually supposed to deliver. You never know when your 25min talk will change to a 1 hr workshop.
  • Talk to Dietrich whenever you find him, You will learn a lot
  • Check the hotel Checkin/Checkout timings and book accordingly

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And Yeah! It was a lot of fun being at Fossasia. B-)

Thanks for reading.