Sitecore Hackathon 2019

This was my first year participating in Sitecore Hackathon. It’s an annual event that brings teams from around the world together to create a useful module, plugin, or code example for the latest version of the Sitecore platform.

Although it’s been going on for several years, I always find myself in the middle of projects at Hackathon time, and the idea of staying up for 24 hours straight to do more Sitecore seemed a bit hardcore to me. This year was no exception, with Hackathon falling between two week-long international trips.

But I resolved to give it a shot anyway. I’d heard so many good things about it from the Sitecore community, that with a little prodding from my coworkers, I took the plunge and registered for Hackathon 2019.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Come prepared with ideas. You don’t know what themes will be selected in a hackathon — those are announced 1 hour prior to the start of the event. So it pays to have a few alternatives.
  • Make sure your ideas are feasible for a small team in one day. Respect the “minimum” in minimum viable product!
  • Make sure you have your baseline Sitecore instance ready to go before Hackathon begins. You won’t want to waste precious hours reading the installation guide and downloading modules during the event.
  • As with real projects, co-located teams have it easier than distributed ones. You can keep each others’ energy going, communicate freely, and use that precious screen real estate for something other than a web meeting!
  • Make a schedule. Know when your teammates are going to be available. Remember to allow enough time to commit the code, write the documentation, and record the video.
  • Have fun with it! This is an extracurricular activity, so play around and take some risks!

For my first time, I messed up the preparation step and was far too ambitious about what we could deliver with a small team. But it was still fun to hang out online. It also reminded me how much I like writing code. I’ve been doing high-level architecture for the past two years, and I’ve really missed building things out of bits and bytes.

That may be the most important lesson from Hackathon this year — not to let another year go by without programming something fun.

 

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