Let’s start with a small introduction. My name is Robert Lampe and I’ve been working as a software developer and low code modeller since 2012. A couple months ago I was invited to join a Hackathon.
Let me tell you how that pressure-cooking turned out!
At the end of 2020 OutSystems I was first introduced to the Build for the Future Hackathon. At this stage OutSystems was connecting with their partner and individual developers, who just completed Low Code School, to join the challenge.OutSystems view on non-profits is that they are doing great work in helping their communities with very little resources and support.
The expertise of the non-profits is amazing and OutSystems believes that they can help them big time. Three non-profits were chosen for this hackathon. Each non-profit had 5 teams that are working in a competitive way to create their own solution. After 5 weeks the winner will be chosen.
Being asked for a Hackathon
During my career I've worked with different low code environments and I'm always trying to improve myself by learning different techniques and technologies. While I do really like programming with C# or Java, nothing tops the development speed of a good low code platform. I use the default platform functionality to accelerate the development and use custom components to create the best solution and experience for the customer. A typical week for me is diverse. I can work on analyzing the requirements, model the solution and switch to work on front-end or back-end to create non-standard functionality where needed.
My journey to become a OutSystems developer started March 2020 with the OutSystems Low-Code School. This was a one-week evening course in a (virtual) classroom. I learned a lot and with some additional self-studying I was able to get the certificate: Associate Traditional Web Developer.
In December 2020 I was invited by OutSystems to join a Hackathon. Ana from OutSystems said that I would be matched with a company that has OutSystems expertise. In preparation I took the guided path to get my next certificate. Little did I know that I would be matched with the most awesome OutSystems partner there is: Valuga!
Choosing a non-profit: CCT
The low code tools that I’ve been working with before had a focus on specific industries. Looking at Valuga’s website I saw that a wide range of industries are taking advantage of the benefits that OutSystems brings.
Go check out the cases and see that they are creating value in multiple different industries.
During the introduction of the hackathon, my view widened even further, as I was introduced to the three non-profits that we could choose from to help:
Strength United, Zer0Hunger and Nelson Mandela University Center for Community Technologies (CCT).
After a quick vote with the team, we chose to help CCT. Voting was easy as there was no wrong choice, we knew we would help a great cause anyway.
The Centre for Community Technologies (CCT) at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa is involved in research and engagement activities across multiple disciplines. As such, it is not only doing applied research but also actively implementing interventions that contribute to South Africa's development goals and the African continent in general.
The challenge stated by CCT for the Hackathon is to support cancer patients and their families in remote areas. Our task was to come up with novel solution that would make it possible to support cancer patients, despite the challenges they experience or to find innovative ways to circumvent the barriers.The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) is the leading authority in South Africa in the fight against cancer. A lot of information is only available in print. CCT, and therefore we during this challenge, are trying to come up with a digital solution to guide people during their journey with cancer. Where print does not reach people in rural areas and people with low literacy, we think we can with the right solution. Learn more about CCT.
Working on the solution: Big C
It feels good to be surrounded with the best of the best. Quickly during the first week we had a general idea what we needed to do to make an app that supports the cancer journey. Harrald took the UX tasks upon him and we were able to show CCT the direction we wanted to take.
We think books are a great way to convey the story. We created an app with a library of books. Each book is broken down into chapters about a specific topic. Each page on each chapter is accompanied by animations and spoken word to get the message across as best as possible. Strategically placed questions keep the user thinking and interaction while being immersed with the topic he or she is reading.
The story about cancer is not ours. We are only trying to help to get the message across. To help, we find it really important that the people from CANSA and CCT could maintain the content themself. We want them to tell the stories and give information in the way they know to have the greatest impact.
For CANSA and CCT to manage the content we needed also to create a back-office application. Alexander took me under his wings, and I could help create this functionality.
With multi language support, audio support and a WYSIWYG this web application can be used to get the right content to end user.
While I could go on explaining all the features, I could better show you. Eric has made a great presentation which shows all the features. You should really check his presentation because we've won the Hackathon award for best demo!
Although we did win the best demo award, we did not win the Hackathon. For me personally, I will continue making web applications to help people and organizations. Maybe there is even more OutSystems granted to me in the future.