OCaml Manila: Inaugural Hackathon Night

OCaml Manila: Inaugural Hackathon Night
The first OCaml Manila meetup in progress.

A couple of weeks ago on the 4th of April, the first OCaml Manila meetup was organized by Thibaut Mattio from Tarides, and co-organized by Justin Garcia (that’s me!) from Open Source Software PH (OSSPH). The event was a great success and I feel that it’s a great insight into what the future holds for fostering functional programming here in the Philippines.

The plan for the meetup was for the attendees to build a Pokédex using a web server with some front-end development sprinkled in. To give it a little more structure, Thibaut and I decided that it would be good to have discrete milestones to achieve for the project that we’ll be building. These milestones are namely:

  • Basic Setup and Displaying Pokémon Names
  • Styling the List with CSS
  • Displaying Pokémon Cards
  • Adding Interactive Elements
  • Creating Detailed Pokémon Pages

After getting the coworking space set up, we kicked things off by introducing ourselves to each other. I was pleasantly surprised as the group had people of different backgrounds from hobbyists to professionals in the field working for over 10 years. We also dedicated the first hour or so to get acclimated with OCaml’s syntax and get working OCaml environments set up.

Thibaut explaining the meetup's goals.
A tour of the language using the online playground.

The latter half of the event was spent on hacking on the project (and eating pizza); Thibaut and I decided to split the participants into 2 groups so that we could focus on guiding each one through the project. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we were only able to accomplish the second milestone. Still, there was a generally good atmosphere and the group was having fun navigating the language and building a project as a first exercise.

Two groups hacking on the project.

Wrapping up the event, we had the 2 groups present what they’ve built and also ask them about what they thought about the language. The general consensus seems to be that while it’s an entirely different approach to programming than what they’ve encountered so far, OCaml is a perfectly capable language for building web software.

I’m excited about what the future holds for the rise of functional programming languages here in the Philippines. Beginnings are always such delicate times, and I think it’s really important to take this first experience into consideration as we host more events in the future. Maybe even form a formal user group for functional programming, who knows?

About the author

Justin Garcia is a Community Lead at OSSPH. He is an avid open source contributor and Core Team Member for the PureScript programming language. Connect with Justin here to learn more about his work and interests