Mixmax Creative Code Challenge, May 2019

July 2, 2019

Written byRyan Freebern

Mixmax Creative Code Challenge, May 2019

Every day at Mixmax, engineers must consider problems and solutions from many different angles: we assess risk in our deploy plans, balance readability and succinctness, and make sure to delight users with small touches.

Working within the constraints of professionalism and quality is important for a high-performing team, and it's equally important to find ways for our creativity and playfulness to shine. In May, we set ourselves a challenge: toss all the usual constraints out the window, optimize for creativity, cleverness, and enjoyment instead, and write some code that outputs the Mixmax logo!

The Mixmax logo

This code wouldn't go into production, of course, and it wouldn't need to be maintained by other team members. It was purely a way to exercise the right side of the brain and have a little fun. We called it the Creative Code Challenge, and gave ourselves a month to see what we could do.

Participation wasn't mandatory, because creativity can't be forced. On the Mixmax engineering team, we each allocate a portion of our work time to pursue anything that interests us or helps us grow and learn, so taking part in the creative challenge was just one of (nearly) infinite options available for spending that time. At the end of the month, four of us had put together entries.

tl;dr check out the challenge and the entries on Github, or read on for a summary.

Logo Spinner

A screenshot of a webpage with a spinning Mixmax logo overload on the bottom right corner

Trey Tacon, our head of platform engineering, is a big fan and advocate for Go, so of course he took the creative code challenge as a refreshing opportunity to exercise his Go skills in an unfamiliar area: image manipulation. He was motivated to create something a little more engaging than a static logo, so his entry applies a spinning Mixmax logo watermark to any image.

Logo Golf

An ASCII art Mixmax logo

Tucker Leavitt had never tried his hand at code golf prior to this challenge, and liked the idea of getting to know and use the weird, fun corner cases of the language he writes in every day. His entry prints an ASCII art version of the Mixmax logo to the console, and clocks in at only 117 characters of javascript.

Extremely Concise Logo

A pixellated Mixmax logo

Eli Skeggs says, "The Mixmax logo has some neat geometries that I realized I could exploit by using spatial transforms to turn the entire logo into a single inequality. I realized it'd be even more fun to code-golf this solution, as it ends up being pretty amenable to a functional approach." He chose to work with the Pyth language because "Pyth is an old friend, and I generally enjoy class-1 programming exercises (those involving mathematics and the terse representation of logic/control)."

Layers of Logos

The Mixmax logo rendered out of colorized characters of JavaScript source code

I (Ryan Freebern) have always been a fan of hacks with multiple layers, like those often seen in the IOCCC or in PoC||GTFO. While my entry isn't on the same level as either of those, I enjoyed finding three ways to represent the Mixmax logo via JavaScript: as whitespace in the source, as the quine-esque output, and via careful use of commit messages.

Take part!

Does this look like fun? Feel free to put together your own entry (see the very loose guidelines here) and submit a PR.

Want to work with a team that understands the value of balancing rigor and fun? Come join us!

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