Bootcamp Life

A Glimpse into the Northcoders Final Project: A Graduate's Perspective

Northcoders Team Tech TitansPreview: Northcoders Team Tech Titans

Hello, my name is Liam, a recent Northcoders graduate and I’m going to be giving you an overview of my experience completing the Northcoders final project. For anyone who doesn’t know this is completed during the last 3 weeks of the bootcamp and includes a planning phase followed by 8 days of coding and then the creation of a presentation to show at graduation. 

Getting assigned to teams

A week before the final project phase I was messaged by my mentor who asked each one of us who we would like to work with.  Taking everyone’s answers into consideration they then paired our seminar group up into teams of 5 or 6. Personally, as someone based in the Manchester office, I was keen to work with an onsite team. This led me to being paired with a group of teammates based in the Manchester office who I knew well and had regularly pair programmed with.

The first few days and project planning

On the very first day of the project the Northcoders staff gave us a one-day planning task to get our feet wet and get us used to working together as a team. Our team ended up building a plan for an app where you can hire graffiti artists, we set up a Trello workspace, built some user stories and did a basic wire frame for the app.  We then pitched our work to our mentors and seminar lead.  This prepared us for the next two days which consisted of a similar task, but this time it was the real deal. We were tasked with coming up and doing a basic plan for 2 ideas to pitch. We would then get feedback from these ideas and would have to decide on which one to commit to.

Our team quickly got to it and we spent plenty of time sat around a table coming up with all kinds of wacky tech ideas and technologies which we wanted to use. We covered ideas which spanned topics including cooking, catering, camping, hiking, office admin and healthy eating.  A favourite one of mine was a suggestion from my teammate Kate who suggested that we build an app which advises you how much sunlight a pub’s beer garden has throughout the day. However, unfortunately we deemed this not to be technically viable.  After a while my teammate Kas came up with an idea around creating a coffee loyalty program which really raised a lot of excitement across the team. Which we decided to explore further.   We also came up with an idea for a meal prep app.

Lots of ideas were bounced around and this led us to building a simple wireframe for the two apps on excalidraw along with a list of tech we would like to use to build the two apps.

Pitching and ‘spiking’ our ideas

The next morning Croissants in hand we had a meeting about how we wanted to present our pitch.  We decided on showing the wireframe and our vision first followed by our proposed tech stack.  Kas and Kate presented the meal prep app and me and Alexis presented the coffee loyalty app.  We joked that it was like being on an episode of BBC’s dragons’ den and the mentors were big scary dragons.  I presented my case for the coffee loyalty app with lots of enthusiasm.  I discussed the need for independent coffee shops to pool together to create an amazing loyalty program and the exposure coffee shops would get from our amazing app!   Alexis talked about our tech stack he discussed using an express server on the back end which used Mongo DB.  While on the front end he discussed using React Native and TypeScript to build a mobile app.  He then discussed some of the tools we wanted to use including React QR code package, Firebase Auth, and Stripe API.  

Then came the feedback.  Luckily for us our seminar lead and mentors did not breathe fire.  Roisin started with the feedback and advised that she really liked the idea but told us that we would really need to focus on the apps UI to make it successful.  In fact, the consensus across our team and across the mentors was that we all really liked the coffee loyalty idea.  Our seminar lead Christian said that he had never seen anyone integrate the stripe API into a project and I think Alexis set out to make Northcoders history.  

We then got to work with ‘Spiking’ and for those of you that don’t know in the world of tech this basically means researching a technology to learn about it and to see if it is viable and the best option for the project at hand. 

We had some important things to think about such as how were we going to emulate and display our app during development and ensure that it works on everyone’s machine since we were working on Mac and Lynx operating systems.  How were we going to get the camera functionality and QR code functionality to work?  How should we authenticate users? Was Mongo DB suitable and could everyone get to grips with it? These were just some of the questions that came to mind.   Although as we were in a team of 6 we were able to assign these questions out to individual team members or pairs to research and then report back in our daily stand up.  

Coding our project 

The following 8 days were all about making our project come to life.  The day started with a quick daily stand-up (or sit down) meeting at around 8:30am each day. In the ‘real world’ a daily stand-up would be led by a scrum master but in our world we each took it in turn to lead the Stand-up.  During the stand-up each member would quickly discuss what they were working on the previous day and any challenges they faced followed by discussing what they are going to work on that day.  We would often organise tasks into tickets on a Kanban / Trello board.    

After the meeting we would then go off and work on the code base. You mainly have two choices the first is working solo on your ticket and the second one is paired programming. Another good practice we deployed was regularly pushing up to GitHub and checking for merge conflicts.  Towards the end of the 8 days, we made good progress on the apps functionality and progressed more towards styling. 

Presenting our project 

Once our 8 days were up we were then tasked with creating a 3 minute video to showcase a walkthrough of our final product.  We each wrote a little bit about the area of the app we developed and then recorded a voice over to put in the video.  I remember the 6 of us sat in a little meeting room in the Northcoders office trying not to make a noise while we pass around an iphone to talk into. We also produced some written content for the Northcoders website where we have a page that outlines our project. 

If you're curious to explore our project, check it out here. And if you're considering a career in software development, Northcoders offers an intensive learning experience tailored to those wanting to become developers.

In conclusion, the final project at Northcoders summarises the essence of software development – collaboration, creativity, and continuous learning!