A look back at the fantastic ETHBerlin

September 18, 2018

In the days of 7th through 9th of September, Berlin was undoubtedly the capital of Ethereum. And not solely because of the huge hackathon, although it was the star of the show, with as many as 65 teams submitting their projects before the deadline, after a 36 hour marathon to deliver a working piece of software built around Ethereum.

But what made it such a special experience was the vibe of fellowship and community coming together to celebrate the web3 revolution and the progress we’ve made and all contributed to. And with DApps being used for everything on ETHBerlin (live streaming, ticketing, hotel booking – truly everything) it was clear how far we’ve come from the get-go.

The hackathon was the culmination and showed how many ideas there are and just how ready we all are to commit to making them a reality. Making Web 3.0 a reality.

Unfortunately, not all of our team made it to Berlin this year. And the rest of us wanted to hear all about it, so we thought why not bother the ones who did with some interviewing?

Here’s what we got out of them about the ETHBerlin hackathon, their Smart Alert project, the other projects, the mentoring, and an Ether treasure hunt they got themselves into.

Team Decenter at ETHBerlin

Your main mission was to join the Hackathon and your Smart Alert project was one of the ten winners, from a pool of over 60 submitted projects. Tell us a bit about the idea behind Smart Alert?

Nebojsa: Smart Alert is a DApp that keeps track of activity on any smart contract. The only thing you need is the ABI of the smart contract you want to monitor and you’re good to go.

Mateja: We wanted to create a tool that will help smart contract developers monitor the activity around their contract and DApp after being deployed. The main idea is that it allows users to create custom triggers of any kind and be alerted when matched inputs happen. This could be used to get notified about any major activity or malicious behaviour – whatever the user configures, really.

What did you guys use to set everything up and what were some of the more difficult bits?

Nebojsa: I used the almighty Go for the back-end and mongoDB for the database. Go was my go to (see what I did there?) choice because of the speed and efficiency, it uses little to no resources and forces you to follow best practices. The greatest problem, for me at least, was how little time we had. I’ve gotten used to 48-hour hackathons and the 36 hours we had required some heavy back-end hammering to get the project up and running before the deadline.

Mateja: The most of the work was on the back-end side, if I’m honest. Luckily for Nikola and me, we just had a standard process of building a front-end UI which connects to the API.

Have you had the time to check out other teams’ projects, were there any you found particularly interesting?

Mateja: There were a lot of complex and interesting projects, even among those that didn’t win. I was very interested in seeing Artonomous get a lot of attention and come out as one of the winners, since we’re currently working on a somewhat similar visual art-based crypto project at Decenter.

On the other hand, we had two team members also join the hackathon, but as mentors.

Nikola and Nenad, you guys were mentors during the hackathon, how did that go? Which projects did you get to check out?

Nikola: I got to talk to so many teams and there were just ideas everywhere, it was brilliant. One project that had me buzzing were these guys who were trying to build Splitwise on Ethereum (they called it SplitEth), using state channels. Even though that may still be a bit far fetched for now, I do hope to see DApps like these live soon, because that’s the kind of thing that will get people to use crypto for regular, day-to-day transactions.

Nenad: Mentoring was definitely an interesting experience, and although there weren’t many issues posted on the official app for mentors, that didn’t stop us from mingling and checking how people were doing. We got to talk with most of the participants in person, learned about their projects and helped them out with suggestions as much as we could. To be honest, I used any free time left from mentoring to grab t-shirts from all of the company booths, which actually also led to learning about some cool companies I haven’t heard about before.

Did anyone of you have the chance to join any of the talks or workshops? Which ones did you catch?

Mateja: The schedule of the whole event was jam-packed, and committing to the hackathon unfortunately meant you can’t make it to almost any of the workshops. We did join a talk about front-end development, something that was right up my alley. It was mostly targeted towards beginners, but it was good either way.

Nebojsa: We also visited the workshop where Parity guys talked about smart contract security. That was…an interesting one, to say the least. 😉

We also heard a little something about you lot winning a treasure hunt and catching an Ether in the wild, how did that go down?

Matko: Yeah, that was a really fun experience. We were just chilling after the hackathon and I was checking the Status messaging DApp when I saw that one of the teams built a treasure hunt DApp with a 1 ETH reward ready for winners. They called it GeoETH, a decentralized geocaching game. We loved the idea, took up the challenge and immediately set out to find all three of the needed QR codes.

Nenad: In the spirit of decentralization, we split up to cover more ground quicker. Some of the clues and pins weren’t 100% point, so we ended up searching in the park outside the venue and under a nearby bridge, but only ended up finding up empty beer bottles. Ironically, we then found the first QR code back inside, over once of the beer fridges. The second QR code was easy enough to find (it was on the side of the glorious(!) ball pit) and then the third one was hunted down by Mateja on the backside of one of a promotional poster in the courtyard. We quickly scanned all three QR codes and the victory was ours. And so was the Ether. We did spend all of it on Etheroll later, though.

Any final comments on this year’s ETHBerlin? Are you looking forward to next year and what would you like to see then?

Nenad: I loved it. The whole vibe of the conference was geared towards creating and hacking something great. Being programmers, we usually don’t talk much, but this time meeting new people was super easy and everyone was very knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. I guess the beers also helped drive the conversation.

Nikola: It was one of the best events I attended and there were so many great people from all over the world, it was a real joy meeting as many of them as possible. Just hearing about so many projects that are being worked on all over the place is amazing. Definitely coming back next year, just need to figure out if I should join the hackathon. We’ll see.

Mateja: The whole event was an amazing experience for me. It was a great place to meet other hackers and Web 3.0 enthusiasts and I don’t intend to miss it next year. I just hope they make it a day or two longer, though, so we could enjoy both the workshops/talks and the hackathon.

 

Thank you, ETHBerlin, and see you next year.

Nikola Janković