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Introducing the first Backdrop challenge!

Block puzzle

Why

I love puzzles! The little metal ones you have to disassemble and re-assemble, escape rooms (though I've only ever done online point-and-click ones), even Mastermind. I recently saw videos online of a guy solving 'sequential discovery' puzzles. These are intricate devices that, for example, require you to find a hidden pin, then use that pin to push a button, which releases a drawer containing a code that you can use to open the puzzle and find the treasure. Watching these videos I had the thought that I could create something like that in Backdrop CMS. And with Backdrop's 5th birthday coming up, I thought that'd be the perfect time to do it.

What

So I set about designing and creating an install profile for Backdrop. The install profile would setup a Backdrop site with certain content, user accounts and settings such that it would create a puzzle to be solved. There are lots of things I could do with this concept, but for now I kept it small and created (what I consider to be) a simple challenge. Without giving anything away, the idea is to delete all the spam. When you start the challenge, you're presented with a Backdrop site that's full of spam. You have to work out how to delete it all. Once you do, you'll get your 'prize'.

Where

The challenge is now live, and you can participate here:

Backdrop Challenge

Have a go, see if you can solve the puzzle, and feel free to share your success, frustration or feedback.

How

The install profile used to create the challenge site is, for now, in a private repository. I plan to make it public eventually (to help promote Backdrop by way of what you can do with install profiles, etc.), but for now, to avoid cheating or spoilers, I've decided to keep it private.

In considering how best to 'publish' the challenge, I noticed how BackdropCMS.org uses Tugboat.qa to allow people to create demo sites on-the-fly. This would be the best way to allow people to participate as each person would need their own, personal challenge site and expecting them to setup their own site manually would be too much. BackdropCMS.org uses a custom module to integrate with Tugboat, so I first tried that on my site, but I couldn't get it working (and still don't know what was going wrong). When I reached out to the Tugboat developers for help, they suggested I try using their newly-released API instead of the older command line tool BackdropCMS was using. I did so, and ended up re-writing Backdrop's custom module to use the new API, and to be more generic so anyone can use it on their site (like I'm doing here). The result is a new contrib module for Backdrop: Tugboat.

Since I'm doing this for free and fun and for the Backdrop community, the kind people at Tugboat generously upgraded my account so that more people could participate concurrently in the challenge. My thanks and gratitude go out to them!

Hopefully people will enjoy this challenge. If so, there may be more in the future...