I'd never partaken in any sort of hackathon in my life till this past weekend, when I (along with Dan Solovay and Nicole DuRand) participated as Team admin/b in the 2017 Sitecore Hackathon. Team admin/b has a winning reputation at Velir, having won the 2015 Sitecore Hackathon, so we had some big shoes to fill.
It will take me some time to write up all of my observations here in detail. In the mean time, here are some quick reflections I have about my experience:
- Every developer should do at least one hackathon. I had a blast, even though as a 35-year-old with two kids and a house I didn't really have time for it. I hope to keep doing the Sitecore Hackathon.
- Don't worry about your skills. These days I only code about 50% of his time. I was initially concerned about this lack of recent experience, but it turned out to not be a problem at all.
- Be creative and open. At the beginning of the hackathon, when you get the objective, allow yourself to be open to whatever ideas come your way. Don't dismiss ideas your teammates come up with; instead, use them as springboards for new ideas.
- Be decisive. However, don't let yourself/your team spend too long waffling on ideas. Once you've spent a little bit on brainstorming, choose your path and don't look back.
Make testing and docs a part of your main process. As part of our process, I was responsible for creating documentation, creating the deployment package, and testing the package throughout the entire hackathon. This active cycle of documenting, packaging, and testing really helped us refine the final product. Here are all the packages I created during the hackathon:
Have fun! Don't take it too seriously. Take silly pictures. Your code is going to have bugs (all code has bugs). Just roll with it.
The judges haven't announced the winners yet (they have over 90 entries, so it might take a while). Regardless if our team wins or not, I am glad I participated in the hackathon.