Thursday, 23 May 2013

6 Tips: Getting your Hackathon project into Production

Recently there has been a steady stream of stories about projects that started as a Hackathon idea going into production at some of Silicon Valleys top companies. It's well known that Facebook's 'Like' button started off as a Hackathon project, and Ebay just announced a Hackathon project has led to them using Node.js for the first time in production. So what will give your project a chance of making it out to production for your users to benefit from? The team @ are giving you six tips to get things moving when your boss gives you some time to hack away!

1. Share Your Project

So you have made something really cool, maybe on your own or with some other devs. Now is the time to share your Hackathon project and get other people within the company excited! If it's a tool for the dev team why not give a lunch-time talk or send out a note with a quick-start guide. Once people see that you have made something cool and interesting it is surprising how quick it can get added to priority list for more work / release.

2. Don't worry (too much) about the technology

Hackathons are meant to be a chance to try out something new or maybe do something differently, so don't let people tell you your work has to be production ready right away. Often you will do your best work when you are excited and lets face it all of developers love shiny new things! But, once you have the concept nailed and something implemented be prepared to be flexible. Getting a new technology live can often be time consuming, so sometimes you will need to give and take to see your project get the light of day.

3. Be prepared to say 'OK that didn't work'

So you have tried to make something and, well, it didn't quite work out. This is still a valuable project! You will have learnt new things and hopefully take away a few lessons. The most important thing to do is make sure you and your team do another Hackathon! Still share your work with the rest of the team and who knows it may inspire someone else. Next time you can take a fresh idea and see what happens!

4. Upload your project to GitHub

So you have finished your kick ass project and your company decides on a change of direction, your project just isn't needed. Shock horror, this does happen. Why not try to get permission to put your project onto GitHub? This is a great way to share your work and who knows it may be just what another developer / company is looking for. Then instead of your code being in production in one place, it could be used all over the world. Dream big.

5. Work with the business guys

Great things can happen in pairs! Use your technical genius to think up a solution for someone in the business with a problem or idea. If you address a hidden problem or tap into an undiscovered opportunity you will look like hero. The great thing about this is your work will hopefully have business value so you instantly know it will have a better chance getting released. Also working with someone with a different perspective could open your mind to come up with an out of the box solution that will blow the socks off the rest of the dev team!

6. Launch it yourself

If you have built a cool application in your own time, then just launch it yourself! There are plenty of cloud providers offering free basic hosting such as Appfog, AWS and CloudBees amongst many others. Just be careful of any legal complexities that may occur from having users such as data protection and anti-SPAM regulations.


We loved this presentation by Philip Su, Facebook Site Lead London, from back in February this year on Facebook's engineering process and how they use Hackathons as part of their development culture.

Check it out:

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