Tamas Piros

@tamaspiros

A Cloudinary Newbie’s First Impressions and First Hackathon

Earlier this year, I decided to leave my job. While exploring new opportunities, I came across and became interested in a company that specializes in digital asset management (DAM), called Cloudinary. Happily, after a few rounds of interviews, both technical and nontechnical, I received an offer and joined the company in June as a full-time developer evangelist.

My ramp-up plan was straightforward: Spend two weeks in Cloudinary’s office in Tel Aviv, Israel and meet the team there: engineers, product managers, senior executives. Out of pure luck, on the first day of my visit, Cloudinary hosted an internal hackathon, “Hack Outside the Crop,” in which I participated. It turned out to be a gem of an experience.

Two things struck me soon after I’d spent some time in the Tel Aviv office. One, everyone was amicable and genuinely curious about who I am and what I know. I hadn’t expected the many hugs on day one but, hey, no complaints from me. Those warm gestures suit my personality and I like that kind of congenial work environment. Two, I was impressed to see the top executives casually walking around the office often, which gives us many opportunities to talk to them. It was obvious that if they are free, they are absolutely accessible.

After being introduced and shown around the office on my first day, I joined the hackathon. From an organizational perspective, the hackathon was pretty standard, starting with pitching ideas and forming teams. The primary criteria were to create hacks that would augment, expand, or enhance Cloudinary’s core product offerings.

I teamed up with another developer evangelist so that we could also use our time together to swap knowledge. That was a greatly beneficial for me because I was new to the technologies being adopted at Cloudinary and had a lot to learn. Nonetheless, I found it challenging at the beginning to even grasp the fundamentals. Thanks to the generous help of my team member and the engineers, all located in one section of the office, I made remarkable strides in short order. Gaining knowledge had never been so easy!

The project that our team worked on was a Vue.js-based video editor that would enable marketers and bloggers to stitch and edit videos online with Cloudinary as the back end. The goal was to create an easy-to-use interface, as opposed to a fat client app, for downsizing videos for web browsers. Even though it was my very first experience with Vue.js, I found it appealing and have since used it in multiple projects.

All in all, I much enjoyed the hackathon. It afforded me an invaluable opportunity to —

* Meet and work with several Cloudinary teams.

* Gain in-depth knowledge from a fellow evangelist.

* Learn new technologies, both Vue.js and Cloudinary’s.

And I got to eat a lot of delicious food while doing all that.

In a matter of only a few hours, all the hackathon teams managed to whip up great hacks. At the end, each team presented its hack and I was amazed at how technical some of the solutions were. Check out all the projects created by the teams.

First place: Spa treatment and fun day with a +1.

Second place: Dinner with a +1 in a chef restaurant.

The winning team built a digital asset management (DAM) terminal. DAM is a new Cloudinary offering that accords marketing, creative, and development teams the freedom to use rich media to drive customer or user engagement across diverse use cases. Conveniently, with the DAM terminal, you can execute file-system text commands and operations in the browser, just like in a UNIX terminal.

Conclusion

All in all, I found it both challenging and exciting to join Cloudinary at the time of the hackathon. Challenging, because I had to grasp the technical details fast; exciting, because I was thrown into the deep end, so to speak, but I learn best that way. Above all, it was gratifying to learn from all those knowledgeable, seasoned colleagues.

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