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SilverStripe Blog

Sam Minnée talks about his experiences with Full Code Press


Compiled from an interview with Sam Minnée.

Full Code Press was a very interesting experience from my perspective because even though the program started at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, I didn't actually start integrating templates until 3 in the morning - most of the work happened for me after 3 a.m. After that, however, it was fairly intense.

I feel like I worked well under pressure. And I loved working with our team - I loved the dynamic of working with a bunch of people you know are really good at their respective jobs, who you could just trust to do their bit well, so you could focus on doing your piece of the puzzle as best as you can. Plus, the challenge of producing a website in 24 hours made everyone, including the client, very focused, and very committed to getting as much as possible done in a short period of time. So, in the end, we did an amazing thing. We built a really cool website given the time frame. And I think it was kind of inspiring to see how much could be done in that time. I don't think that building a website in 24 hours is ever going to be close to being a realistic thing for a regular client project, but I think it was challenging to ask: Can we do things more quickly than the industry norm says is standard?

The clients worked well with us too. It was their first website, so they were really stoked. So they didn't just come in and tell us what to do - they were there with us until about two in the morning, then came in again about seven or eight the next morning. They got some sleep, sure, but they were really part of the team for the whole products. In the end, the client liked the final product, and that's what really matters.

There were a number of hectic moments. At one point, the webserver everything was on crashed - stopped working - and all three competing sites had to be pulled from one webhost to a new one. We had to deal with the migration, and for a time, the content authors couldn't make any changes. That was, I think, more stressful for some of the other teams than it was for us, in part because this was prior to integrating the templates at 3 a.m., so we had a certain amount of bandwidth to deal with these kinds of things. But, it was still good to be less stressed about these things than the other teams. It made us feel like we were doing something right.

The most demanding time - not so much because there was a relatively stressful amount of things to do, but the physical limitations of the body - was about 8:00 in the morning, just after breakfast. I just hit a wall. I couldn't stop yawning and could barely think. And I think the Red Bull and V high had sort of worn off, and my mind and body were just about ready to give up. That was quite bad for an hour or two, and then as we approached the finish line the adrenaline kicked back in.

The 2010 Code BlacksThe most hectic moment, unsurprisingly, was near the end - at 11:55, five minutes before the deadline, I realised we had forgotten to add alt-tags to the rotating images on the front page. I thought it would be an easy fix, but we had put the alt-text into the database, and we weren't actually querying the database to display the images - we were querying the filesystem directly. So I had to query the database, cross-reference that with the stuff we were getting from the filesystem, and then inject the combined content into the template. That was the final thing I changed, and finished with two minutes to spare. When we went around the event saying "We're done!" at 11:58, everyone was mocking us for slacking off and finishing early.

By the end, I was definitely in a curious mental state. I'm sure that this affected my coding to some extent, but I think that there's a different part of the mind - a slightly less conscious part of the mind - where the coding comes from. And when I'm in the zone, even without sleep, I can - I can still get in that flow state and let things go. The part of my mind that broke down first was part that controlled social interaction, not the coding part. So, I had my headphones on, the music up loud, and I was ignoring everyone else unless they needed something from me. Which was lucky, because I wasn't there to socialise, I was there to write code.

Things got a little tense - but considering everyone had been up for 24 hours I think we did fantastically. There were no real breakdowns. I think everyone got a bit loopy. There was an impromptu dance party with no music at one point. We had sort of stand-up meetings every hour or two and one of those, we just all started dancing. I'm not really sure why. There wasn't any music playing. I think we just needed to move, having been stuck to seats all day. After a few minutes, I think we all realised what we were doing, and laughed at ourselves and continued on.

But it was a very intense experience, and we went through this experience together, and when you do that, you come out closer to each other. I feel like I've made new friends. I feel like what we've gone through is not something that happens every day. It's not like any other website launch, and - yeah, I mean mostly, I've come out of it really glad to have the experience.

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