Sithija Thewahettige
6 min readAug 24, 2019


Facebook build day by Facebook developer circle Colombo was held on the 17th of August 2019 at hatch. It was conducted to provide attendees with an introduction to the newest technologies by Facebook and to help them build creative products with those technologies for the FB community challenge 2019. About 60 young enthusiastic developers participated in this event. Most of them were university undergraduates from all around the island.

build day 2k19 participants and facilitators

Facebook Community Challenge 2019, is a competition where participants should build software using Spark AR, React 360 and HTML5 games. Of course, Facebook gives the winners handsome rewards! So if you are reading this post I encourage you to take part in it.

For more details about the community challenge hit this

Well, coming back to Facebook Build Day which was held in Hatch Colombo, I had the luxury of being a facilitator in it. So let me give you a summary of what happened and how things panned out that day.

The Build Day was kick-started by Dinu Kumarasiri, head of FB Dev circle Colombo who gave an overview of the community challenge to the participants, also introducing her team and the facilitators.

Then Dakshika Jayathilake, UX Team Lead / Technical Lead from WSO2 took over to start the day’s proceedings and gave attendees a comprehensive overview of Spark AR. Spark AR studio by Facebook allows anyone to create augmented reality filters and effects for Instagram Stories. Simply put, it is like Photoshop but for AR. AR received a lot of attention due to games such as Pokemon Go in the past few years. So this session captured a lot of attention since Facebook has made it easy to work closely with AR using the spark AR studio and further share your work in social media.

introduction to spark AR was conducted by Dakshika Jayathilake
Dakshika during his session

After Dakshika’s session, I conducted mine, this time on React 360, a JS framework by Facebook to develop virtual reality applications on the web. Let me share with you what I found interesting about React 360. It makes VR on the web or VR in the browser possible. Whenever you talk about virtual reality I am pretty certain that the first thing that comes to your mind is something like this, look down, yes that picture.

Some guy/girl wearing a headset and being immersed in a virtual environment. so this gives the idea that you always need a headset to experience VR. but FB has made VR in browser a reality through react 360. you no longer need a headset, you can simply develop the application using react 360 and see it come to life in your very own browser. So to cut short I spoke about Facebook’s initiatives to make VR, 3D and immersive experience possible on facebook via 360 photos and videos and 3D photos on FB. Furthermore, I spoke about Oculus headsets, Oculus Browser, a browser for serving VR content. Facebook believes that future web sites will have 2 modes, one where 2D flat content is served and another where 3D/360 content will be served when accessed through a headset rather than a regular browser. Thereafter I discussed with the participants of a few use-cases where react 360 is currently being used. As per now, major companies like Nissan use Oculus and React 360 to facilitate the test drives and give driver experience to their customers under many simulated environments.

my session on react 360 and future of web XR

Right after my talk we had a interactive kahoot where participants were asked questions about Facebook and tech in general and winners were awarded with various goodies.

After lunch HTML 5 session started, it was conducted by the Chief Digital Officer of Arimac Mr. Indika Wijesooriya. He gave the crowd a first-hand experience on developing HTML5 games. He started by introducing the basic components of a game and how to make them more lively. He specifically mentioned in his talk that his objective is not only to help the crowd to develop games but to add more color and juiciness to it. He explained the fundamentals of HTML5 game development via an example which made the whole thing more interesting, cooler and easier to follow.

Indika during his session on HTML 5 games

After Indika’s session, we moved on to the second phase of the program. Participants were asked to pick a technology they are more enthusiastic about from the 3 that were introduced and participate in the respective code-lab sessions.
During code-lab sessions, young developers were taught about the development tools required and how to make a small application capturing the essence of the chosen technology.

facilitators for code lab sessions

React 360 code-labs were conducted by Pasindu Senanayake and Thejan Rupasinghe from Sysco LABS. They developed a sample application in React 360 with the undergraduates who took part in the code-labs session. React 360 is a framework that is made with react native and three.js where the latter converts 2D components made by the former to 3D. Therefore a good understanding of React makes working with react 360 much easier. Participants were given a thorough overview of the subject and their questions regarding React 360 were answered.
HTML5 games code labs session, once again, was conducted by Indika. He developed a simple game with the crowd and provided enough incentive for them to develop and explore the area on their own.
Dakshika conducted the Spark AR code labs session which included getting familiar with the Spark AR studio and utilizing it to develop cool AR material.
Things concluded around 5.30pm in the evening and FB dev circle and the facilitators received positive feedback from the developers who took part in the event. Further, I must say the event was a mega success and we managed to deliver a lot of value to everyone who took part. Kudos to all the members of Dev Circle, facilitators, and participants for their enthusiasm and interest shown throughout.

event summary

Let me tell you a little bit about the Facebook Developer Circle too while I am at this. This program was initiated by Facebook back in 2017 as a platform for developers all over the world to connect, learn, and collaborate with other local developers. Carrying this message, Dev Circle Colombo organizes tech events such as this throughout the year to spread technical awareness among the general public.

If you still haven’t checked us out, click for more on FB dev circle Colombo here. Hit a like, stay connected so we can inform you of future events.

I found a few articles written by build day participants about their experience at Facebook build day 2019. If you are still not bored you can pay them a visit too. Lanka Rathnayaka from the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) shares his experience here and read Bawantha Rathnayaka from Sri Lanka Institue of Information Technology (SLIIT) sharing his thoughts on build day 2019 here.

With that I am gonna wrap up for today, so until next time, adios !!!