Acando took the Arctic SharePoint Challenge
The 2017 Arctic SharePoint Challenge gathered the most enthusiastic SharePoint-developers in Norway and a panel of judges from USA and Canada.
Six teams programmed for three days in SharePoint, Office 365, Azure and related technologies. The teams had complete autonomy and could create whatever they wanted in this combined hackathon and learning conference at the beautiful Voksenåsen Kultur- og konferansehotell. Acando participated with a small team and an appropriately scaled-down ambition to experience and learn and to come back in 2018 with a larger team.
The judges, all senior and massively competent VIPs from USA and Canada, judged all of the team's efforts from a large set of categories.
In the first category, “Awesome Code”, the goal was to demonstrate that you followed best practices, put your code up on GitHub and wrote commented and easily readable code.
The second category, "Go with the Flow", revolved around workflow, primarily using Microsoft Flow. The teams who could demonstrate the use of Flow and process automation, including elements such as web hooks and CRM workflows, would be awarded the highest score.
Teams that designed user-friendly and accessible apps could score big in the third category, “User Experience". Other keywords were mobile, responsive design and a focus on interaction design.
The fourth category, "Geeky bastards" was all about your devices. Teams that used IOT devices, Azure ML, HoloLens or wrote bots scored points in this category. The Acando team coded for the HoloLens and managed to hold this category for the first two nights but lost it the final night after some inventive use of an old-school analog phone from one of the other teams.
If you enabled power users to do more with your app, you scored extra points in the next category, which were called “Power User Love”. The aim was not to add scriptability and detract from the UX and the interaction category but add elements that made it possible to extend your app beyond the basics.
In “Mile High Club” teams would score points if they added and used cloud services such as Azure, MS Graph or even Amazon AWS. Acando took this category home the final night with its extensive use of cloud services.
If you could demonstrate “Team Spirit” you could earn points in the next category. Help your team mates, or other teams, or even blog about your experiences and progress.
The final category was “Dynamics Dynamite”. If you could demonstrate that you used Dynamics, you could grab the points awarded in this category.
The teams were evaluated every day and scored points by how well they did in every category. Also, you could garner points by completing a bonus Visio competition, as well as winning the popular vote and a special "King’s Challenge." Every night, the winner in each category was crowned, and if you ended up with the crown after the competition ended, your score went up another notch.
The Challenge was also an opportunity to learn new technology, and the judges demonstrated new features in existing products, and upcoming offerings from Microsoft.
Hololens and Face Recognition
During the hackathon, the Acando team took a deep dive into the Microsoft Face API (or cognitive services, or even “Project Oxford”) and discovered that it holds great potential for creating meaningful services.
First of all, though, is understanding the API itself, and while the API is tremendously well documented, it takes a lot of practice to get it right.
First, you need to take a photo of the people you want to identify. Let’s start with this image:
The "detect" service will assign a temporary faceId. To make it persistent, you need to create a “face list” which you can it into by calling the "persongroups" service. Of course, you can’t call the "persongroup" service without creating a “person group” first. So, you create a person group, then create a person, and then add the face from the face list to the person in the person group. Swell.
Okay, it sounds confusing, but when you've got the workflow up and running, you can add more persons, more faces, and end up with a structure like this:
The next step is, of course, to use this information to further tag and identify faces from photographs. In our hack project, we made an app where you can add people to your group and identify persons already in the group based on new photos.
Here are some screenshots from the finished product:
The images and the data can be managed and updated using a SharePoint-powered backend, and you can also mass insert images and tag faces by connecting to your Office 365 userbase.
Overall, the Arctic SharePoint Challenge was a blast, and a valuable learning experience for our team of 2 (and a third attendee who had to come and go due to illness).