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Hackathon 101

Hackathon 101

A presentation given at Refresh Savannah to get the locals ready for the Geekend Hackathon. It's a primer on doing 24 hour code competitions, what to expect, how to plan for them and what to watch out for.

Kevin Lawver

October 18, 2011
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Transcript

  1. So you wanna do a
    hackathon...
    Kevin Lawver
    Refresh Savannah :: 10/18/2011

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  2. • Kicks off 11/11 @ 1PM
    • 24 hour coding competition
    • Details here: http://geek-end.com/blog/
    2011/08/18/announcing-the-geekend-
    hackathon/

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  3. What’s a Hackathon?
    • Time-limited coding event. You’ve got X
    hours to produce something that works
    and is impressive.
    • You bring nothing but a laptop and an idea,
    and hopefully leave with working code.

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  4. Why would I do that?
    • It’s fun!
    • It gives you an excuse to learn something
    new and challenge yourself.
    • Prove your nerd-fu to the world. What can
    you do in 24 hours?

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  5. Where do I start?
    • Find a small problem to solve, that you
    think you can solve with what you know
    now + 2-3 new things.
    • Find a toolset to use - either one you know
    or want to explore.
    • Keep your scope limited!

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  6. Scoping
    • Start by defining exactly one feature
    to tackle.
    • What do you need to write for that?
    • How many new things are you going to
    have to learn to make it happen?
    • I try to keep it to three new things and
    one or two features.

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  7. Hit the ground running
    • Plunder as much open source as you can!
    • Use open APIs to get you started quickly,
    but only ones that automatically provision
    (you don’t have time to wait around).
    • Do exactly one thing at a time.

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  8. An Example Hack

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  9. I gave myself 6 hours...

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  10. What could I get done?

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  11. Problem
    • I love Tumblr
    • But, I want to be able to
    browse just the photos
    from my friends.

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  12. A New Toolset
    • Rails 3.1.1
    • OmniAuth 1.0 preview
    • Tumblr API
    • Twitter Bootstrap

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  13. Why?
    • I’ve been using Rails pretty much since it
    started, but haven’t done anything with 3.1
    yet.
    • OmniAuth 1.0 is a big change from 0.2.6
    • The Tumblr API is new to me, and I dig
    Tumblr.
    • Twitter Bootstrap intrigues me.

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  14. Starting...
    • Start with the beginning: authentication.
    • Created a new Rails app
    • Started messing with OmniAuth and getting
    authenticated.

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  15. Once that worked...
    • Followed the setup instructions for Twitter
    Bootstrap.
    • Then got going with the javascript to
    display just the photos from the dashboard.

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  16. Then, the fiddling
    • Remember, I only gave myself six hours. I
    was running out of time and eventually had
    to give up getting everything I wanted.
    • I moved a lot of things around and messed
    around trying to get the popover stuff
    working.
    • It’s not pretty, but I solved the basic
    problem!

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  17. Things I Remembered
    • Working > Pretty
    • You can always add pretty later if you have
    time.
    • Rough is fine as long as it works (or looks
    like it works).
    • Take breaks.

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  18. Hammering it home
    • One feature at a time.
    • Don’t start on feature 2 until #1 is finished
    and working in a demo-able way!
    • Keep your goals limited and well-defined. If
    you have time, you can add more, but at
    least get the very basics working.

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  19. Plan Ahead
    • Know what problem you want to solve.
    • Have a basic plan for what toolset you’re
    going to use.
    • Install pre-requisites (but don’t start
    coding, seriously)
    • Get your API keys!

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  20. Working with a team
    • Pick a leader / tie breaker / burnout
    warden
    • Use source control!
    • Divide responsibilities and decide on
    integration points / check-in times.

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  21. Do Mini-Sprints!
    • Break up your 24 hours into 6 four-hour
    chunks, with check-ins every hour.
    • Everyone has deliverables that have to be
    done in that timeframe.
    • You can come up with this plan ahead of
    time... it will save organizing time later.

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  22. Feature drop!
    • If things slip, don’t be afraid to drop them
    and re-evaluate. Remember, the goal is to
    have something working to show at the
    end!
    • If you need to, jump in and help with a
    specific feature to get it working.

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  23. Staying Sane
    • Take breaks, get up and walk around.
    • Sleep if you have to, but if you start
    sleeping, you might not be able to stop.
    • Pace yourself - don’t load up on caffeine
    too early! A slow steady supply will keep
    you up and alert.
    • Don’t eat too much. It’ll make you sleepy.

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  24. Resources
    • Programmable Web: http://
    www.programmableweb.com/ - Great
    resource for all-things mashup and API
    • Github: http://github.com - Get ye some
    source control!
    • My Hackathon Demo App: https://
    github.com/kplawver/hackaphoto - So you
    know what not to do. ;)

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  25. Questions? Tips?
    Warnings?

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  26. Contact Info
    • Kevin Lawver
    • @kplawver
    [email protected]
    • http://lawver.net
    • and all the photos were taken by me and
    are Creative Commons-licensed.

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