Fivium Hack Day 2016

Posted on Oct 31, 2016

Another year working for Fivium, another Fivium Hack Day.

People getting down to work

The format of the Hack Day at Fivium is now fairly well settled so the organising was much as it was for previous years. Unfortunately this year I wasn’t working in the main office to do the bulk of the organisational work but thankfully there were other people more than willing to do the arduous work of sending out a couple of emails and seeing what prizes people might want.

Me wearing the hackday 2016 shirt

As with Previous year Matt updated the website we use to communicate the details, created an excellent new t-shirt design and assembled a collection of stickers to be stuck on everything and anything crossing the Fivium office doors for weeks after the event.

Tylert coming to life

This year there seemed to be two major trends in the hacks produced. Unlike last year where node-webkit and electron apps ruled it seemed 2016 was the year of the Hipchat Bot and the Hardware Hack. We had 2 hardware hacks this time, 2 more than ever before, and 3, almost 4, Hipchat Bots. Where it will go next year, I’m not sure.

This year I spent most of my time doing the usual rounds with everyone, seeing what people were up to, lending a hand or advice where applicable and re-writing my old Twilio-infused SMS-based voting system. The new version was a node.js and Express app to keep it quick to hack on. It also got an updated coat of Bootstrap 3 paint.

Typically unhealthy snacks

I attempted to get healthy snacks for the afternoon, one year we even got melon slices. This year I caved a little and we ended up with a fair amount of junk food. I personally don’t think this helps people stay focused as the sugar crashes hit fairly hard, but I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. Same goes for dinner where every year I try NOT to get pizza before giving up and ordering a bunch of pizza. This year we went to Pizza Pilgrims who have a restaurant just down the road from the office.

Typical pizza dinner



Created by one of the students, Tyler, who we have working with us at Fivium for a year. This Raspberry Pi based project connected wires to the locks on the toilet cubicle doors so that when more than one cubicle was occupied a speaker would start playing Let It Go to mask any “noise” from either cubicle.

Cool moving stuff

One of the front end design people, Ed, spent some time learning about SVG animations as apposed to CSS3 animations and came up with, as the project title suggests, some cool moving stuff.


Dan worked on a tool to generate release notes (in PDF-form) for customers by integrating with JIRA. A fairly handy tool that the project managers at Fivium would enjoy.

Perforce police

Chris T created a framework to make it easier to add perforce-triggered checks so that when developers submit changes to Perforce, the main VCS we use at Fivium, it can check the code is currently deployed to the dev environment. This should stop people tripping over each others code or worse, committing code they haven’t tested on the dev system first.

Unreal Tech Team

Lately there has been a lot of Unreal Tournament been played in the Fivium office during the lunch hour. So much so the Fivium infrastructure guys (we call them the Tech Team) created a dedicated UT server. If only there was a way for the results of matches to be posted into the UT99 room in Hipchat…

Well, thanks to a collaboration between Chris CM and the Tech Team that wish has now come true. Parsing the logs on the UT server it sends the results to the Hipchat room.


We use Oxygen XML Editor a lot at Fivium. An awful lot. One thing that you can set up, but can be tricky, is different colour backgrounds for different namespaces, which can make namespaced attributes easier to reason about.

Henry worked on a project which could automate the configuration of the namespace colours as an Oxygen plugin. It had a few minor bugs (every twenty characters typed after running the plugin, the typing would go backwards) but since when do hack day projects come out perfect!

Video jog wheel

Phil didn’t want to spend over £23,000 on video editing hardware controllers. Instead he whipped up his own jog wheel using a rotary encoder and an Arduino glued together with serial and Java.


Mike created a Hipchat bot to simplify the office coffee rounds. Taking in the coffee/tea orders from people it would eventually summarise the orders into a list and assign a member of the Hipchat room to go and make the hot beverages people were craving.


Lewis made another Hipchat bot to help with the weekly debate on where people should go out for a Friday lunch. With the many choices around Fiviums Covent Garden office these discussions can go on a bit. His chatbot would maintain a list of potential venues, acknowledge and count votes and announce the winning destination.


Fivium has it’s own in-office “bar” consisting of a fridge for cider & wine as well as a keg chiller & tap combo to encourage more communication between people in the main office and other offices.

Like choosing a lunch destination, choosing a beer to order is a common issue. PDF beer lists from distributors are looked over manually, searches are made on RateBeer and heated debates are had. Ben wrote some code using iText to automatically extract the data from the distributors PDF and summarise the beers with information according to RateBeer.


Jon made some changes to the main internal Java framework we use at Fivium, FOX. Projects created in FOX are marked up using XML but Jon made it easier to do all the work in Java rather than having to use XML. One of the more technical hacks and raised some interesting questions about the framework.


And to cap off the demos we had Matt doing his usual tour de force with Scrum. This was a virtual scrum board with digital post it notes. Using phones people could collaboratively throw post-it notes to the wall, drag them around (using AR), trigger timers, give feedback etc.

People hard at work


Bens sticker-bombed hackday laptop



Matt E - Scrum - Echo


Lewis - Lunchbot - Canary


Tyler - Tylert - Up at the O2

This year I streamed the demo presentations and prize-giving live on Facebook which you can watch here: