‘Adrenaline rush from coding for 36 hours is strange but amazing’

App creation, like apps themselves, takes many forms, including intense coding contests called hackathons

What does it take to create an app?

If you’re a UofTHacks participant, it takes an idea and a day and a half.

“The adrenaline rush from coding for 36 hours is strange but amazing,” Aashani Shah says.

Shah is on the executive team of UofTHacks, the largest student hackathon in Canada. General app developers demonstrate their talents at this and other hackathons, which are 36–48-hour student app-developing competitions.

“To prep for a hackathon you can come in with an app you can create,” Shah said. “For example, you might want to know where all the dog parks are nearby so you can take your dog for a walk.”

These competitions are intense and they’re a great way for aspiring developers to get noticed, as they bring out a developer’s creativity while under pressure, Kundan Joshi said.

When you’re constructing a building you have architectural blueprints. It’s similar when you’re constructing a piece of software.

—Kundan Joshi

But that’s not how all apps come to be, said Joshi, CEO of The AppLabb, a web and smartphone app development company headquartered in Toronto’s Liberty Village with offices on four continents .

“Technically an app is an application and an application is basically something that is helping you solve a problem,” Joshi said. “First a client comes to us with an idea, they can be a tech start-up company or a major corporation.”

The app is researched and designed using Photoshop and other software before any coding is done, he said.

“When you’re constructing a building you have architectural blueprints,” Joshi said. “It’s similar when you’re constructing a piece of software.”

Once that blueprint is complete, the developers can then begin bringing the app to life, he said.

Apps created by companies like Joshi’s do take a lot of work, general app developer Will Lau agreed. Lau is the creator of DataElk, an app that takes information released by the Canadian government and makes it easily accessible to individuals.

“A game that you see developed from a company, such as Angry Birds, is actually quite intense,” said Lau, who attends the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University.

“But at the same time, if you look at the [Apple] App Store or the Google Play store, most of the apps there are actually done by general developers or the people who don’t really do all these procedures.”