Open Collective
Open Collective
Play widens the halls
Published on January 7, 2022 by loleg

This release is dedicated to the critical thinkers and philosophers questioning the power structures of our age. Cross posted on Oleg's blog.

"Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work." --
James A. Ogilvy

"According to my philosophy, there is no offline. The internet is the blood that runs through the veins of our society & I've accepted that." --
@alexwolfco via Cyber Collective

* * *

Continual work going into dribdat, the open source platform for impactful hackathons, has been made possible thanks to the support of our community, the association, Open Knowledge Foundation (Frictionless Data), the Canton of Bern (Data Hackdays BE), and the DayOne Association (Health Hack). Almost all of the latest changes and features are coming from requests and questions of event organizers and participants, the driving force of dribdat. Here is what's new in the latest update (v0.6), as compared to the last major release (v0.5) that was reported on here.

🎨 Design

We have made improvements to a number of parts of the user interface, in particularly for better navigation and useful new functions in the admin area. The teams will appreciate that large project images get correctly resized, and a plethora of other minor UX changes and stylistic improvements have been added to make it easier to navigate projects, post dribs (our internal social network), our use the search function - now available in the top navigation.

Tweaks to the layout of the main event screen, shown above, have made the hexagons vertically packed. Until now we have had a rather large gap between rows of the hexagonal grid. The now tightened hexa-grid is easier on the eyes and fits more projects on screen for larger events - though on mobile the gap remains for usability. 

Only the available image upload fields are shown in the project edit screens, certificate downloads have been moved to the event participants screen, and the event branding is no longer shown on system screens. You can still use the custom CSS file in the configuration settings to change the login screen and so on. 

The project editing buttons are now shown underneath the content area, to put more focus on posting dribs and progressing through stages - the design of which has been improved along with clearer, shorter wording. Besides that, Posts are now limited to 280 instead of the original 140 characters. A little bird in the window told me to tell you now to follow @dribdat on Twitter. 

📲 Editor

We now have a screen to show projects by Categories as well as by Stage for any given event, linked in the bottom event panel. This turns out to be quite useful! Something our users have been clamouring even longer for, is rich editing support - now part of the project pitch editor. This makes contributing to documentation using Markdown or HTML more accessible with the addition of toastui.

The Challenges you follow and your latest projects are now shown on the home screen. Users can also now Comment on a project even when you not part of that team. Additional unit testing and optimization of the Post feature to write dribs and promote projects through stages, has made it a more versatile tool. Expect this to become even more central in future versions.

When posting a new challenge or starting a project, it is now possible to immediately enter some Pitch content and not first have to save and edit. At the beginning of an event people can just post the name of a location ("Room 123"), rather than a URL link into the Contact (which should still be provided at a later stage, enforced by a progress rule). The Project edit form is now in two parts, with a details editor accessible at the bottom of the project page. The user profile now looks even cooler! 

These and other good ideas implemented in #258 are mostly coming from our users, some of whom just happen to be dark-mode fans.

📦 Portability

We are making efforts to improve support for Frictionless Data in dribdat. A Data Package can be added to any project by uploading directly to it, like an image. You can export and then import elsewhere a whole dribdat event and all of its projects from a Data Package - as a template, or to mirror another site. And of course, you can still quickly sync Data Packages for your dribdat-powered data expeditions. Running open data hackdays should now feel less like drama and more like a comma llama.

The revision of our event schema has made it easier to open up the platform further in your community. New (initially private, until approved and promoted by an admin) events can be started by any user, unless this option is turned off. Additional extensive refactoring and de-linting has been done in the API modules, so we can hope to see more chatbots connecting to dribdat soon.

🎩 Bootstraps

The main goal of dribdat is to make hackathons more fun and productive, so we've made a range the improvements to core functions which support the work of teams. Resource tips, which are used to give guidelines to the teams, has been moved to top of the Project screen, and expanded with instructions of advancing to the next stage. We have removed the redundant Resources button on the event home, improving instead the rendering of resources here, in the Profile and other areas of the app.

The Gamify feature adds a long requested ability for admins to award special badges with a "boost" to projects. Like in multiplayer games, admins can also now add and remove the players, i.e. team members. These are but small steps to embedding more fun and engaging ways to facilitate events on the platform, inspired by the design concepts of Koboldgames.

⚙️ Operations

Our release included new functional unit tests and other tweaks to the performance and stability of dribdat. The documentation has been updated and refactored, with detailed docs now found in the docs/ subfolder.

Speaking of which, thanks to Gonzalo we now have improved Docker support and instructions for a simple, portable deployment mechanism across any supported computing environment. It should also work with podman - see the Deployment Guide and let us know how it goes on your machine!
Did we already mention the data import? 

We ran a dozen events last year and 2022 promises to be no less busy. Investing into improvements of Hackday platforms is on the agenda, and we have our sights set on making dribdat better then ever - and/or going back to the drawing board and converting all that we have learned into a pivotal leap.

If you have any questions, drop the maintainers a line through dribdat at or join our chat room to say hello! 

The easiest way to support dribdat is to send thoughts and <3 on the grapevine, and contribute to the OpenCollective.

More details on the backend and frontend updates and maintenance of dependencies can be found in the latest Pull Requests: