Articles Tagged with hackathon

Hackathon Timesavers

I’ve been looking at tools to speed along the development process for hackathons and hackdays. When you’ve only got 24 hours to turn out a presentable project, any of these can help save precious hours. I’ve included some of my favourite tools below.

Trello: If you already have a team and idea picked going into your hackathon, you might as well be ready to hash out the features of your MVP with your teammates. Trello makes collaborating (near) painless by letting you plot your course without taking off your headphones to argue with teammates.

Gitter: Chat is a great way to pass ideas back and forth. Chat that works with Github to let you pass ideas and code back and forth in-chat and speed things along.

Bootstrap: Need to make a website? Bootstrap. A popular front end framework, Bootstrap is one of the fastest and most popular ways to get your front end sorted.

Semantic UI: Like Bootstrap but want more copying and pasting? Semantic UI does the same thing with a different workflow. Get a beautiful looking front end

Python Anywhere: If you’re developing in Python, this tool lets you skip all the environment setup and get each of your team members working with the same setup in-browser in moments.

DreamFactory: What Bootstrap and Semantic UI do for simplifying your front end, DreamFactory does for your back end. Throw your data at it (SQL, noSQL, file storage) and DreamFactory will let you create RESTful APIs to plug into your project with no fuss.

Feel free to add your own hackathon timesavers in the comments below.

Structure of a Hackathon

Having just attended Popathon 2, a hackathon working with Popcorn.js, I wanted to talk about the basic structure and schedule of the event. Before attending, I only had the dimmest idea of what a hackathon might look like and how I might best fit into the day. I hope that by talking a bit about the basic structure of this event, I can give other newbies a better idea of what events in their environment might look like and how it might fit into their development plan.

Popathon 2 was a two day long event, spanning a weekend. I wasn’t sure what the general skill level of hackathons would be so I contacted the organizers beforehand to check to see if this event would be a good fit. Popathon, along with the other events I reached out to assured me that their events were beginner friendly. While it might be safe to assume most hackathons and similar events are going to welcome a wide range of skill sets, get in touch with organizers if you need an extra shot of assurance.

The event hosted a casual meet up in a pub the Friday night before the event. A common practice for this type of event, this can be a great way of meeting some of the other participants and getting a general idea of who you might work well with.

Popathon was set to start at 10:00 with me running in late and panicked. The event actually started closer to 11:00, once most attendees had arrived. In the future I’ll be less worried about making it in before the bell.

The Saturday session started with icebreakers, lunch and then pitches. People who had brought projects they wanted to work on during the event made appeals to the participants to see who would want to be a part of that project team. If you’re coming to a hackathon without a project in hand, don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of people with great ideas wanting to bring you on board.

After the pitches people pick teams and head off to start getting some work done. Expect a lot of talk about goals and methods before getting started.

We closed out the day with another optional pub visit, though I opted to go back to my hotel room and frantically research all the new terms and concepts.

The next day was far more results focused, with work on projects stopping only for sharing short status updates with the attendees, lunch and eventually to present our prototypes. The overall tone of the event was casual, friendly and inclusive. Based on this experience, I can recommend similar events for newly minted and self taught programmers. The diversity of skills and experience can offer a great deal of direction in working through real world problems and concepts in a supportive environment.