LINE Android & iOS Engineer Workshop and Hackathon 2019

Hello everyone, I’m Aldo, an Android developer at LINE. In this article, I’m going to share my experience in attending LINE Developer Workshop and Hackathon 2019. The aim of the event was in “closing the distance” between LINERs; since for the most part, we usually only communicate through online platforms. Android and iOS developers from Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, and Taiwan participated in the hackathon, workshop, and various ice-breaking games.

I looked forward to attending this event for three reasons. Firstly, a chance to work on a different product from what I usually work on every day. Secondly, getting to meet with old and new colleagues. Thirdly, getting to visit the company training facility that I’ve heard so much good things about. For instance, how the building management puts a lot of emphasis on being eco-friendly, the aesthetically pleasing architecture, and the crisp weather of the surrounding area.

Traveling to another country to work on a new product with new people in a different atmosphere was a pretty exciting experience.

QR Code Hunting

The first activity in store for us was a QR code hunting game. In this game, participants were randomly put into teams and had to find QR codes spread across the building. Each QR code contained a link to a problem. Whoever successfully solved the problem got points and a hint to the next QR code. The team who collected all the QR codes would win.

Finding the QR codes was quite challenging. They were hidden under chairs, stuck on walls, inside books, and so on. However, the tricky part was solving the problem those QR codes revealed. The problems ranged from brain teasers, trivia quizzes, to programming interview questions. For example, “Find the highest possible number from two sets of numbers,” “Who is the founder of Java?,” “Decrypt a ciphered sentence,” and many more. Since each of us had different backgrounds, we were able to answer the trivia questions and brain teasers. And since each of us do programming almost every day, we were capable of solving the programming interview questions. It was only a matter of which team could answer the questions faster than the rest.

Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, the QR code hunting game finished half an hour earlier than expected. I guess LINERs are quite competitive when it comes to solving problems.

The proud winners won prizes ranging from comfortable slippers, smartwatches, and even streaming devices. They look so happy! Congratulations. The rest of us got a valuable lesson about the power of teamwork. The combined effort of all members enabled us to find QR codes quickly and solve problems swiftly.

Let the Hackathon Begin

After finishing the QR code hunting game, we had dinner and then we gathered in a meeting room to listen to the committee. The committee gave detailed information about the hackathon that would take place.

The theme of this year’s hackathon was “Upgrading the Development Environment for LINE.” We were free to create products as long as the product helped developers to work more efficiently and effectively. The product could be a library, script, chatbot, application, plug-in, you name it. Unlike the QR code hunting game, we formed teams before the hackathon started. We had the choice of forming our own team, or joining other teams that you think had an interesting idea. The hackathon would end at dinner time the day after.

You can’t have a hackathon without snacks and coffee. Of course, the committee provided snacks and coffee for 24 hours.

The participants were so enthusiastic about making their ideas come true. Some used a whiteboard to share their design, some used a phone to record their friends, perhaps to create a video for their presentation, and some just focused on their laptop for hours.

Ping Pong and Puppies

Any participants that needed refreshment were allowed to use the various facilities around the campus. Everything from ping pong, football, basketball, or even playing with puppies. Yes, there were puppies! It was the first time I got to play with puppies, and it was such a relaxing experience. I’m curious why it’s not available in all the other offices.

The committee also held a mini ping pong tournament. Eight LINERs participated in this tournament, including myself. Every contestant played with enthusiasm. It was a unique opportunity to play with ping pong players outside of your circle of friends. 

From the looks of the players, I believe they were re-energized to continue on with the hackathon.

End of the Hackathon

24 hours have passed since the hackathon started. 38 teams participated in the hackathon, and each team presented their products with intense passion. We each had 5 minutes to present our ideas. After that, participants could vote for the ideas by their usefulness and creativity. Here are some of the ideas that caught my eye:

  • A modified version of the popular open-source app GitHawk to fit LINE’s engineering ecosystem
  • Integration of scrcpy with Android Studio for faster Android app development
  • Slack and LINE chatbots to edit, sort, and group tickets in our bug tracking system
  • Visualization of library dependencies in LINE services
  • Bash scripts for automating repetitive tasks, such ask updating configuration files, creating tickets, building, and testing source code
  • Tools to update LINE’s theme quickly
  • Tools to improve the build speed of LINE projects
  • library collection that enhances the development of Android apps
  • And many more!

It was very satisfying to see the finished ideas from each team come true. The teams that got the most votes from participants were rewarded with exciting prizes from the committee. Needless to say, all the ideas were useful, and each and every one of them could upgrade our development environment at LINE.

Summary

Overall, not only did I enjoy this year’s workshop and hackathon, but also learned a lot from the experience. From the QR code hunting game, I learned that teamwork could significantly improve our productivity. In the hackathon, I saw how different teams tried to solve similar problems using different approaches, and how they produced very creative solutions. It taught me that there are multiple ways of looking at and solving problems. Lastly, my colleagues and I were able to make new friends and get closer to each other more than ever before.

I’m eager to join next year’s workshop and hackathon. See you next year!