Open Hack India 2012 gets off to a flying start

Mojito Audience

A long day at the code face is coming to an end and things are looking promising at the 5th annual Open Hack India. Murray Rowan kicked off the day with his rendition of "Hacking != Cracking (and everything else you need to know to survive a hackday)". After clearing up some common misconceptions of hacking, Murray gave his 15 hackday survival tips, which included scratching your own itch, expect the unexpected (like indoor rain and wifi sabotaging kittens), and alcohol is not your friend (which we never thought we'd ever hear from a Scot).

Following Murray, was Saurabh Sahni, YDN's product guy and hacker, with his enthusiastic take on "Hacking on Steroids with YQL". Revealing that YQL currently gives access to 1255 APIs, he showed how you can easily mix, match and filter APIs to get exactly the data you want for your hack. Why not give the YQL console a try today.


Over in track 2, Praveen P.N., our speed freak in residence, gave a talk on "Web Performance - A look inside Yahoo!". Giving away some of Yahoo's best tricks and tips for web application performance, including Boomerang, yslow commandline, and WebPageTest.

Fabian Frank and Diego Ferreiro Val from the Yahoo! Search team introduced Mojito and talked about their experience using it to build Yahoo! Axis. Mojito is Yahoo!'s new MVC JavaScript framework that is designed to allow you to use one codebase to create applications that will run on the server, and in multiple clients on Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet devices. Yahoo! Axis is one of the largest production implementations of Node.JS and Mojito.

Reid Burke from the YUI team gave talk called How to win with Node.js. Revealing that JavaScript is now the most popular language on GitHub, he went on to show how Node.js is penetrating some of the largest companies on the web, like Yahoo!, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Mozilla, and AT&T. Particularly suited to Realtime web apps, Node.js is maturing fast and it's ecosystem is growing at a phenomenal rate. Frameworks such as Express, Connect, and Yahoo!'s Mojito's are growing adoption with web developers around the world.

Sudar Muthu's Picture perfect hacks using Flickr APIs showed how to build hacks using the 5 billion photos on Flickr, together with the meta information that is stored in with them. He concluded with some awesome demos that were created using the Flickr API in earlier Open Hacks.


Jai Santhosh in his talk Slick Hacks with YUI explained how to get started building hacks with YUI, which included how to get data and use data, and how to build great user experiences.

Sunil Pai in his talk Locating your hacks gave an overview of Yahoo's world class Geo APIs to help hackers add geo-location features to their hacks. Check it out!

Pradeep BV of YDN, in his talk Making sense out of things on the web, told of how we at Yahoo! analyze and categorize the huge amount of content that we ingest and publish on our network everyday. The Yahoo! CAP API analyses content and returns the key entities within that content as well as the semantic categories within which they belong. Once you understand the meaning of content, it can be repurposed and organized in many different ways to suit business purpose. For example, at Yahoo! we categorize content in order to match it to users interests and contexts, so that we can personalize their experiences with our products and services.

Markandey Singh also gave a talk explaining 10 things you can't do without YQL, which includes providing an OAuth client without a server, converting any XML REST API to a JSON API, and hiding a client-side JavaScript execution secret. He also showed off a hack he's working on called Fake Siri. This is a Chrome extension that looks and responds like Siri, but is built completely on YQL. It uses Chromes speech to text and text to speech functionality with the Yahoo! CAP API and PlaceMaker to produce an authentic Star Trek experience. So successful was this workshop that Markandey was asked for his autograph twice on his way out of the room (I don't think i believe him).

That concluded the tech talks, so we swiftly moved on to kick off the hacking. This was conducted by Erik Suhonen (Head of YDN) and Todd Hay (Head of Platform Services). Erik told of how hackdays were at the heart of innovation in both Yahoo! and the industry. Todd followed with a classic "Now is the time!" speech; always a crowd pleaser! He then assumed his customary role to start the 24 hour countdown, a moment caught in the video below. Check it out!


The hackers quickly organized themselves and got right to it, only to be interrupted by the occasional meal and some dazzling entertainment by the amazing, and rather scary, Laserman!. Laserman cannot be described in words; one must experience him for oneself. So, check out the adjacent photo.

As I write this, hacking continues apace. Only darkness, red bull, and the clammy scent of geeks at work stand between us and morning.

Update: 2:21am: 500 hackers still hard at it! Amazing!