What MaptimeLA's Been Up To

Since our last post here in January, the Maptime LA group has held eleven meetups and worked on two projects and won a total of three awards. [Insert trophy emojis here]

We’ve been using a combination of in-person project working nights, midnight Slack conversations, Trello task-wrangling, GitHub collaborating, meeting up at people’s houses and going to actual hackathon events to make it all happen.

In the open flexible/structured, learning/making, all-about-beginners space of Maptime, I wanted to note some meta-lessons we’ve learned on how to make projects with a lot of people work.

Handy tools:

  1. Butcher paper
  2. Pens, pencils
  3. Outlets
  4. WiFi
  5. Lots of people!
  6. Online: Slack, GitHub, Trello

Before the event

  • Prepare a GitHub repository of a template with dependencies, comments, documentation and instructions.
  • Download documentation in case the WiFi goes down. Dash for OSX is handy for this.
  • Deploy to gh-pages from the start so people can keep testing it on all sorts of browsers and devices.


  • Find something that interests you and you can actually use
  • Keep the prize categories in mind!

During the event

  • Use a big piece of paper to brainstorm, wireframe and draw out flows. Visual is easier to talk about!
  • Keep it simple: Try to focus on one single user’s use case. For now.
  • Make a list of the most important tasks, and expand them to other types of tasks like: copy (coming up with fun names, slogans, instructions), researching data, cleaning data, documentation, README, cleaning up the code, coming up with images for the presentation… endless!

Keeping code clean and happy

Working on the project

  • Pair people up as much as possible.
  • Why? Pairing is important at a hackathon because it keeps people talking to each other, and you can get a gauge of where they are at.
  • Pairing also makes it easier to find each other’s typos.
  • Ask people “Let’s try..” “Want to try this?”
  • Take lots of breaks :-)

After the event

  • What did you learn? Write it down, post it and share it to people.
  • Make the code into something re-usable and document it.
  • Comment the code to make it easier for others to replicate.

Want to contribute?

  • Make a pull request!