"Coding in the Dark" or what one can do in Qt in 10 minutes

Well, not only in just 10 minutes, but with other hard limitations on top! Qt developers have shown that a small but functional app can still be made! Let's have a look at how it went and what we learned.

At Qt World Summit 2023, we ran a coding contest, "Coding in the Dark," as a part of the entertainment and networking program at the end of the first day. This was the first contest of this kind we did. While preparing, we went through various concepts of how such a contest can run. In the end, we landed with something similar to http://codeinthedark.com but tailored to native programming. So, what was the challenge?

  • You have 10 minutes
  • There is no Internet, no docs, no examples
  • It is just you, your code, Qt 6.6, and Qt Creator with code completion and highlighting still active
  • Your mission is to write a small, but functional app with UI
  • In Qt C++, QML, or Python. Your choice.
  • You can compile and see the console output as often as you want, but you get to see the UI only twice. You decide when. The third time is when you show the final result. 
  • The winner is the app with the most complete functionality and reasonable UI where one can say, "Wow, I'm impressed that you can code this from scratch in 10 min!"


We had quite a few participats and a considerable interest in general. Many people stopped by and carefully read the rules. Some were asking several questions. The contest started at 5 p.m. after the last talks finished and had to compete with networking, DJ music, food, and "Code Lager":


Ah... well... actually, drinking while coding was not a part of the contest 😎! It was a tough challenge in all senses, but we got three winners!

The first prize, a 16" touchscreen portable monitor, went to Vladislav Vulchev from https://www.chaos.com/.  Vladislav wrote a small game in Qt C++ which implements the basics game scenario of the famous Pacman game. In his game, you have to move a circle on the screen with the arrow keys on the keyboard to catch another circle. When you caught it, that target circle jumped, and you needed to catch it again. Vladislav finished coding even 30 seconds before the end of 10 minutes total time.

The second winner is Pierre-Yves Siret from https://dice-engineering.com. Pierre-Yves wrote a digital clock app in Qt Quick with an animation of the digits. It was fully working on time, and already on the second and final look at the UI.

The third winner is Sercan Atlı from https://www.avid.com. Sercan's idea for the app was to show that you do not need AI to answer a few questions and prove that you are a good developer. Most probably inspired by one of the keynotes. There was not enough time for the feature with questions, but Sercan activated a plan B at the right time and still got a functional simple app written in Qt Quick with a basic dialog with a user.

I firmly believe that other participants are still winners in a broad sense! Winners because they had the knowledge, experience, and courage to accept the challenge and get on coding and have fun too.

What did we learn from this first time? There was a notable interest in the audience at the event for this contest. 10 minutes is a very tough limit. On top, many developers do not actually know what could be done in 10 minutes since most tasks take far more time than this. A few participants actually suggested that 15 minutes of pure coding time would be much better. The limit to see the UI only two times was seen as a nice fun factor. A few people wished the contest would be available for a longer time and extended to the second day. So maybe next time, at a Qt World Summit or at other Qt developer events!

Happy Qt coding!

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