Sitecore Hackathon 2017

For the third year in a row, The Reference actively took part in the community organized Sitecore Hackathon. Looking back at the two last editions, we realized that the Hackathon would quite likely pull us out of our comfort zone. Either by providing us with a set of contest categories that are so specific that they require us to go all out on Sitecore, or simply by our need to prove our ability to execute and try out previously unused functionalities or features.

No weekend for us

The concept of a Hackathon has become widely adopted and used in a number of technologies/solutions. As this Hackathon is not officially organized by Sitecore, it is steered and driven by The Sitecore community.

Through the Sitecore Hackathon, the community aims at testing, evaluating on new functionalities or architectural possibilities around Sitecore. Typically, submitted concepts and projects are not automatically incorporated into the base product. However, they can set the baseline for future modules or introduce new concepts around data integration or data usage.

During the available 24 hours, participating teams are able to prove their ability to think outside the box, create a concept and provide a best-effort implementation of that same concept, while adhering to Sitecore’s best practices.

Each year, a gamification factor is provided through the form of the competition inside each available category which is rewarded by an actual physical award, granted during the SUGCON Europe.

Hack the experience

This year’s Hackathon

Every year, the actual categories around which the teams can create a concept are only revealed shortly before the actual start of the Hackathon. This year, 92 teams signed up across 26 countries. Since teams can consist out of a maximum of three team members, this implies that around 276 developers were participating in this event, governed by another ten judges.You can find all the detailed information here.

Judging on the disclosed names of the judges and the most recently created Sitecore modules and capabilities, we guessed that two categories would work on SXA and Cloud.

Sitecore’s SXA solution helps to reduce your time to market by allowing content teams to design, assemble, and deploy web content across channels with fewer development resources.

Responsibilities for IT and implementation partners are decreased, allowing them to focus on some of the high-impact requirements. Those requirements typically get relegated to later project phases. You can find more information on SXA here.

The four categories that were offered this year were the following:

  • Azure PaaS Module
    Sitecore on Azure Web Apps opens a whole world of potential, it’s up to you to create a module that can help you and others in any possible way.
  • Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA)
    With its components based architecture SXA is the ideal candidate for a module. Give you creativity a boost and try to develop a module that can be used in conjunction with SXA.
  • Habitat
    If you are a Sitecore developer you must have heard of Habitat. There are numerous ways to extend and use Habitat. Do you have found a missing functionality? This is your moment to shine and share your Habitat module!
  • Data Exchange Framework
    Sitecore has always been used to integrate with various other systems. Now with the Data Exchange Framework Sitecore provides a framework that takes care of all the scaffolding and allows you to focus on the actual integration. Go wild and create an integration that helps you and others.

The teams are then given 24 hours after which they need to upload and share their code, create documentations on the module as a manual and an installation guide, provide the needed Sitecore packages (containing functionality, dummy content and if needed users/roles). These are then investigated on by a team of community judges that walk through all the submissions to decide on a winner for each of the categories.

Team “No Weekend 4 Us”

We decided to stick to the name we chose last year. This year our team consisted out of my colleagues Gert Gullentops @Gatagordo and Simran Singh @Simran and myself @KVerheire.

We got a large number of supporters that helped us through some tough patches, such as breakfast and the last tough bits of those 24 hours (you know who you are).

We decided to go with the Sitecore Experience Accelerator for this Hackathon, and had to come up with a concept and something that we found lacking in the module, while at the same moment providing functionality that would make sense in a real world case.

The idea we came up with simply worked around blog items (and to some extent authors). However, we decided to use SXA’s styles and variants which help to transform a component visually and functionally. And on top of that we wanted Sitecore’s main X (Experience) to be present here through the integration of the xDB capabilities.

We realized this by changing the order and visualization of blog posts depending on which ones had been favorited, read and which ones were in line with your captured interests (through Profile cards and Sitecore’s marketing capabilities).

Thanks to the effort we had to put into the Hackathon and more specifically our module and SXA, we were able to once again deep-dive into a relatively new functionality of Sitecore based on the latest version of Sitecore 8.2.

A very big thanks goes out to

  • Everyone that supported us
  • Akshay Sura @akshaysura13 and Sitecore for organizing this event.
  • The Reference @TheReference for enabling us with location, food and drinks.
  • A special mention of our thanks goes out to Nicolas Boxus, Jeroen Vantroyen and Stijn Vijncke for providing support.
You can expect more blogposts based on what we learned here throughout the entire year, where we will be exploring new possibilities and will be musing on new ideas.
Time to warm up for the next Hackathon in 2018!

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