Givecamp 2011

Last weekend I went to GiveCamp in Cleveland. GiveCamp is a weekend of developers and designers building sites and applications for various charities. There were like 202 people there, working in the Lean Dog boat and in the hallway of Burke Lakefront Airport. There were 22 charities, each assigned a team appropriate to their needs. 21 of the projects were completed or nearly so in the one weekend allotted.

My project was Cleveland Carousel. My team also included a designer named Greg and another developer named Jon Knapp, who kind of managed the project most of the time. We had continuous help from at least one of the Cleveland Carousel people at all times. We also had a couple dedicated project managers come help us out for a little while as well.

The clients had a simple WordPress site in running with four pages, but they want something with a lot more content and pictures and a custom design. They came well prepared with a detailed plan of what they wanted, allowing us to move quickly with our small team. They worked with Greg to come up with a design, worked to put all of the content in place, and gave us continuous feedback as we built the site.

We used a fresh install of WordPress with a bare theme (I think it was this one) to build the new design into. We used cforms for a photo/story submission page, and with a special processing handler to allow a donation page to be sent to PayPal with an appropriate dollar amount while still collecting the proper data for Cleveland Carousel. Jon made a nice carousel animation with ContentFlow, a script I had used on other projects. The drop down menus were three levels deep, so we used a custom styling over the functionality provided by the twentyeleven theme, with a delay added by a jQuery version of the menu script I use at Cogneato (it only works for the second level submenus though).

The project moved quickly and went well. We were able to complete the most important of their goals. I was happy to get the chance to work with web people outside of work, with a different workflow. I got some more incite into working with clients and organizing freelance projects. I got to work with WordPress again and learned a bit more of how to use it for such projects. I got to work with the leader of the Akron Canton web meetup. And I got to hang out and talk a lot with TJ, one of the guys from work, when not working on the project. I will probably be working with him to improve both of our skill sets.

That was the “give” part of the event. TJ and I also did the “camp” part, setting up a tent on the lawn of Burke Lakefront Airport. I bought a new tent for the event, just a cheap Walmart one, because driving all the way to Akron area would be way to long and a hotel would be expensive and take longer than just staying right there. It was hot the first night and noisy both nights, but still good enough. I ended up quite tired after the event, but that would probably have happened wherever I slept.

I am planning on doing the event again next year. This industry is very knowledge based and GiveCamp was such a good learning experience.