HackVAN’s APIses and Prizes

HackVAN and Shopify

HackVAN, Vancouver’s big API hackday, takes place this Saturday! If you have any skill or interest in writing apps that make use of publicly available APIs or have ideas on how to turn APIs into applications, you should come down and participate! Here are the quick details:

  • When: Saturday, August 20th, 2011, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Where: Mozilla’s Vancouver offices (163 West Hastings Street, Suite 200, Vancouver BC)
  • How much? A mere $10 for developers to attend.
  • Will I get fed? We’re providing breakfast and lunch.
  • How do I register? Visit the HackVAN registration site.

The APIses

The HackVAN organizers have rounded up a number of APIs that you can use at HackVAN. The idea is to write an application that uses at least one of these APIs and have it working by the end of the day. David Underwood (Developer Advocate) and Yours Truly (Joey deVilla, Platform Evangelist) will be there as representatives of Shopify and the Shopify API.

One love four verbs

If you’d like to find out more about the Shopify API, check out our API documentation. It’s a RESTful (or as I like to say, “RESTafarian”) API and quite easy to use. I also wrote a series of articles on getting started with the API:

If you want to see what’s possible with the Shopify API, take a look at our App Store, where developers who’ve built Shopify apps can sell them and where Shopify shopowners can buy and install them, extending the capabilities of their shops.

Ours isn’t the only HackVAN API. Our API buddies include:

The Prizes

Write an app that we deem worthy and you could win of these:


First prize is a MacBook Air. 11″ diagonally, really skinny, 1.6GHz dual-core Intel i5 Processor, 4 GB RAM, and 128GB mass storage. It’s an amazing and incredibly portable development machine. My friend Andrew Burke uses this as his main machine, where he does Rails and iOS development on it.


Second prize: iPad 2. The 16GB WiFi model. My iPad is my “second screen”, notetaking device, ebook reader and favorite portable gaming machine. This one’s being provided by Shopify.


Third prize: Amazon Kindle 3G. Free 3G, built-in wifi and space for 3,500 books.

And there will be more prizes, too! If you want a shot at these prizes, come on down on Saturday and participate in HackVAN — register now!

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


Vancouver Bound

Air canada

I’m off to Vancouver! I’ll be there from Wednesday afternoon to Monday afternoon, primarily to catch HackVAN. Want to catch up? Drop me a line or tweet!


We’re in Vancouver This Week!

Creative Commons photo by Casey Yee.

This week, a number of Shopifolks will be in Vancouver. If you see us, come say hi!

Tobi and Harley at the GROW Conference

Grow 2011

Tobias Lütke, our CEO, and Harley Finkelstein, our CPO (Chief Platform Officer) will be attending the sold-out GROW Conference 2011, which will be taking place at the Vancouver Convention Centre’s West Building (the media building for the Olympics) from Wednesday, August 17th through Friday, August 19th. This is the must-attend conference for Canadian startups and entrepreneurs. I’ll leave it to my friend David Crow to describe it:

The Grow Conference is a unique three-day conference that brings together the top minds in business, entrepreneurship, technology, and capital to inspire and engage the next generation of disruptive entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter if your business is on or offline, the next-gen entrepreneur knows where their customers are and how to engage them. Today’s entrepreneurs are creating new opportunities, disrupting age-old markets, leveraging technology on their path to being tomorrow’s leaders. The Grow Conference is bringing the best minds of Silicon Valley and Canada together to share lessons learned and inspire action. Be part of this entrepreneurial revolution as we work together to drive innovation for the future. GROW is more than a conference, it’s a movement.

All the tickets that were made available online are sold out. For you super-procrastinators with some money to burn, there will be a very limited number of tickets at the door available at the door for US$595.

David and Joey at HackVAN

HackVAN and Shopify

David Underwood, Developer Advocate, and Yours Truly (Joey deVilla, Platform Evangelist) will be sneaking into the GROW Conference after-party, but the real reason we’ll be there will be for the HackVAN Hack Day taking place at the Mozilla offices (163 West Hastings, Suite 200, Vancouver) on Saturday, August 20th. HackDays are events that are being held across Canada where developers get together, and working either in teams or solo, build cool applications in a day using publicly available APIs. If you’re a developer of any level of experience, from just starting out to guru-level, come out, make new friends and connections and get a chance at winning some cool prizes (up for grabs: a MacBook Air, iPad 2 and Kindle).

Registration for this event is a mere $10 — register now, and we’ll see you on Saturday!

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


Imaginet’s “Unlock the Power of Visual Studio 2010” Events in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary

imaginet unlock the power

Our friends at Imaginet are hosting two-hour events in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary where they’ll show Visual Studio developers how to get up to speed with all the goodies that have packed into Visual Studio 2010. Here’s what they’ll cover:

What’s new in Team Foundation Server 2010

Learn about important updates and enhancements to Team Foundation Server in the 2010 release.  Understand key components such as: Branches as a first class citizen, Branch visualization, and Change set history visualization.  See how using Team Project Collections can improve manageability and scalability.  Imaginet will demonstrate hierarchical work items and typed work item relationships as well as improvements to Team Build including features such as Buddy Builds and Gated Check In.

Testing Tools & Rich Developer-Tester Interaction with Visual Studio 2010

Imaginet will demonstrate the new testing tools in Visual Studio 2010 and how the generalist tester is now brought into the full Microsoft ALM platform.  The new Test Professional product is a purpose-built tool for test professionals to plan, execute and manage testing of your web, Windows Forms or WFP application.  See how the rich defect reporting including IntelliTrace and other information about the execution and system under test, helps eliminate the “I can’t reproduce the bug” response from development.  Test Lab Management can also assist in streamlining the setup and teardown of test labs for test.

These events are free, and they’ll be taking place in the following cities on the following dates:

City When Where
(click here to register)
Monday, October 25 Fairmont Waterfront Hotel
Malaspina Room
900 Canada Place Way
(click here to register)
Monday, November 8 Met Centre
Grand Lecture Hall
333 Fourth Avenue SW
(click here to register)
Tuesday, November 9 Shaw Conference Centre
Salon 12
9797 Jasper Avenue

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


This Saturday: SharePoint Saturday in Vancouver

sharepoint saturday vancouverCreative Commons photo by Jason V. Click the photo to see it on its original page.

Don’t forget that this Saturday, September 25th, is the first SharePoint Saturday in Vancouver!

It’s a FREE public event, and it’s a chance for people in the Vancouver area to dive into SharePoint. It promises to be an educational, informative and lively day filled with sessions from respected SharePoint professionals and MVPs, covering a wide variety of SharePoint-oriented topics.

For more details, see my earlier blog entry on SharePoint Saturday Vancouver as well as the SharePoint Saturday Vancouver site and the registration page.

Thanks to Yaroslav Pentsarskyy for letting me know about this event!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Scenes from TechDays Vancouver, Part 5: Day 2 and Beyond

Day 0 (The Day Before)

TechDays typically happens on a Tuesday and a Wednesday; we usually arrive on the Sunday or Monday in order to prepare the venue, our speakers and our own presentations. The afternoon of Day 0 is usually spent setting up the computers in each of the track rooms and in the Collaboration Lounge and “Ask the Experts” areas.

Here’s Christian Beauclair taking a tour of the facilities on the afternoon before TechDays.

Christian Beauclair in the hallway at Vancouver Conventioon Centre's West Building

I usually see Samantha Wong at Microsoft Canada’s headquarters in Mississauga, but last week she was with us at TechDays Vancouver, minding the table for the WebsiteSpark program, which gives free development tools available to eligible fee-for-service web design shops.

Samantha Wong, minding the WebsiteSpark table

We made the TechDays venue available to CloudCamp on the evening of Day 0. The Vancouver one was quite well-attended. John Bristowe, pictured below with the camera, took some photos of the crowd:

A crowd of CloudCamp attendees gathering as John Bristowe takes a photo of them

We’re usually quite busy with other things on the evenings of Day 1 and Day 2, so we hold the speaker dinner on the evening of Day 0. We took the speakers to Town Hall, where they got a chance to hang out with us over food and drinks and play with the new Windows Phone 7 devices. Morten Rand-Hendriksen seemed particularly delighted to take WP7 out for a spin:

Morten Rand-Hendriksen smiles maniacally as he holds a Windows Phone 7 device

Day 1

Here’s track host Miguel Carrasco delivering a short introductory presentation for “Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud” track the at the start of Day 1. We have introductory presentations on both days; they ease the audience into the day and tell them what to expect from each track.

Miguel Carrasco delivers the welcome presentation to a packed room

Also presenting in the “Three Screens and the Cloud” track was Aaron Kowall:

Aaron Kowall makes a presentation

Both developer tracks were well attended. Here are some scenes from the other developer track, “Optimizing the Development Process”:

Packed presentation room

Packed presentation room

Day 2

We’ve always got extra goodies to give away at TechDays. This year’s bonus prize was a special Halo Reach edition of the Xbox 360, and Lowell Picklyk was the lucky winner. Here he is, being presented the prize by Barnaby Jeans:

Barnaby Jeans and Lowell Picklyk hold up the box for the limited edition "Halo Reach" Xbox 360

Here’s Anthony Vranic talking about some of the new goodies in ASP.NET 4 WebForms:

Anthony Vranic makes a presentation

And here are Aaron Kowall and Miguel Carrasco watching Anthony:

Aaron Kowall and Miguel Carrasco, seated and watching a presentation

In addition to the usual developer and IT pro tracks, we added a new track to TechDays: the Local Flavours track. Unlike the other tracks, whose content comes from other big Microsoft conferences such as TechEd North America, MIX and PDC, Local Flavours’ presentations are the creations of developers and IT pros in each city.

In Vancouver, the last Local Flavours session was a special treat: a recording of a DotNetRocks show with DotNetRocks stars Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin interviewing Pete LePage, Senior Product Manager for Internet Explorer. IE9 Beta had been released earlier that day, so it was the perfect time to interview him.

Here are Richard, Carl and Pete being introduced to the audience by John Bristowe:

Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin and Pete LePage seated as John Bristowe introduces them

Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin and Pete LePage seated as John Bristowe introduces them

Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin and Pete LePage seated as John Bristowe introduces them

Day 2 Evening

After the end of TechDays, we tore down the computer setups in the session rooms, “Ask the Experts” area and Collaboration Lounge and packed them for shipping to Edmonton, the next TechDays city (TechDays Edmonton takes place on October 5th and 6th).

The day wasn’t over yet: we changed out of our TechDays clothes, dressed up a little and made our way to Glowball Grill in Vancouver’s Yaletown district for an IE9 blogger night, where 604-area tech bloggers, tech press and other notable nerds were shown IE9 in action.

Here’s Arnaud Gabaudan, the consumer lead for Internet Explorer, welcoming the crowd:

Arnaud Gabaudan makes a quick speech to the attendees in the lounge area of Glowball Grill

John Bristowe waits “in the wings” to do his presentation after Arnaud’s introduction:

Arnaud Gabaudan makes a quick speech to the attendees in the lounge area of Glowball Grill as John Bristowe watches

And we’re off! Here’s John’s grand tour of the new, faster, more standards-compliant beta of IE9:

John Bristowe's presentation, as seen from the bar

And tucked off to the side were those of us in the bar. We still had a pretty good view of the presentation, plus we had easy access to drinks!

The scene at the bar

Don’t worry, John; I’m paying attention – I just pay better attention when I’m enjoying a Bloody Caesar:

John Bristowe's presentation, as seen from the bar

Day 3 (The Day After)

We held a Coffee and Code on the day after TechDays at the Take 5 Cafe at Granville and West Hastings, a stone’s throw from our hotel, and the site of the foundings of a couple of Vancouver tech groups and startups. I started Coffee and Code at the beginning of 2009 as a way for Microsoft to be better in touch with and more accessible to developers, it’s been going strong ever since.

The scene at Take 5 Cafe

The faces I know in the pictures above and below, from left to right:

  • Boris Mann (blue jacket)
  • Chris Nicol (red shirt)
  • Christian Beauclair (blue shirt)
  • Morten Rand-Hendriksen (green plaid shirt, far back)
  • John Bristowe (black t-shirt, seated farthest back)
  • Anthony Bartolo (rightmost blue shirt)
  • Mark Arteaga (rightmost in the white shirt)

The scene at Take 5 Cafe

We will be holding Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code events in all TechDays cities. Watch this blog for announcements about the locations of upcoming Coffee and Codes!

The scene at Take 5 Cafe

The scene at Take 5 Cafe

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Scenes from TechDays Vancouver, Part 4: Go DevMENTAL

Go DevMental: Our event for students

What is Go DevMENTAL?

Since TechDays – Microsoft Canada’s cross-country developer and IT pro conference visiting 8 cities across Canada this fall – is a two-day event, we’ve got the venues for the entire 48-hour period, including evenings. Rather than have the session rooms (which are already set up for an audience, complete with A/V and seating) lie fallow, we decided to put them to good use and hold free community events in the evenings. One of these events is Go DevMENTAL, where we show college and university students what they can build using Microsoft’s tools and technologies and give them a lot of free stuff.

Go DevMENTAL is a two-track conference, with one track devoted to web design and development using WebMatrix, Expression Blend and Silverlight, while the other covers mobile development for Windows Phone 7 using Silverlight and XNA. At the end of the evening, we give the students a token for DreamSpark, our program that gives them free Microsoft development tools and operating systems and a DVD full of goodies so they can start coding right away.

If you’re a college or university student and would like to have an informative and entertaining evening where you learn cool new things, get free cool stuff, connect with industry people and get some help with your career, register for Go DevMental!

Where is Go DevMENTAL?

We’ll be hitting these cities on these dates:

City Where When
Edmonton Shaw Convention Centre October 5
Toronto Metro Toronto Convention Centre
South Building
October 27
Halifax World Trade Centre November 2
Ottawa Hampton Inn Ottawa
(200 Coventry Road)
November 9
Montreal Palais Des Congres November 23
Winnipeg Winnipeg Convention Centre December 7
Calgary Round-Up Centre
(Calgary Stampede Park)
December 14

What Happened at Go DevMENTAL Vancouver?

Go DevMENTAL Vancouver took place on Tuesday, September 14th in the West Building of the Vancouver Convention Centre, a gorgeous venue (for more, see this entry).

I was helping out with the Phone track, so I only managed to get photos for its sessions. My colleages in Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, Christian Beauclair and John Bristowe, took care of the Web track, while Mark Arteaga of Redbit Development and I ran the Phone track.

Here’s Mark setting up for his presentation, as the students and a number of professors milled into the room. We had some drinks and snacks set up in the back; that’s what the line at the back of the room is all about:

Photo of the session room, with Mark Arteaga setting up his computer in the foreground

And we’re off! Mark did the first presentation, which focused on app development with Silverlight.

The audience in the Phone track at Go DevMENTAL Vancouver

By the end of his session, he had a working, skinnable Magic 8-Ball app that responded to the user shaking the phone. The app was flexible enough so that it would be really easy to repurpose it as a fortune cookie app, the Wisdom of Master Yoda app and so on, without having to touch any code.

Mark Arteaga makes his presentation

Mark’s session was followed by a break, which concluded with a quick accordion performance by Yours Truly:

Joey deVilla plays accordion at Go DevMENTAL

Followed by a quick word from Andrew Gottlieb, a Microsoft recruiter who works the UBC campus looking for the next great Microsofties. If you’re looking for a job at Microsoft and you’re a student in the Vancouver area, you’re going to want to drop him a line.

Joey deVilla plays his accordion at Go DevMENTAL as Andrew Gottlieb stands beside him

Then came my presentation, a live-coding exercise in which we start with “File –> New Project…” and in 45 minutes, put together a game in which you get to smack Justin Bieber around. Let it never be said that I let professionalism stand in the way of a good coding presentation‘

Joey deVilla makes his presentation, holding up a piece of paper

Live coding in front of an audience is not for the weak of heart, and you’d better really know your stuff. But when you do it right, it’s fun for both you and the audience.

In these photos, I’m holding up two pieces of paper as a way of explaining collision detection using bounding boxes. It’s not every day you see some goof in an ironic hipster trucker cap talking about videogame fundamentals!

Joey deVilla makes his presentation at Go DevMENTAL holding up two pieces of paper

After the student sessions, I made my way to the faculty roundtable where we chatted with the professors about what Microsoft could do for them.

It was great meeting the students and faculty – I had a great time, and also learned a lot from them. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Go DevMENTAL cities. See you there!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.