Hackathon Time in Minsk

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Our Exadel Digital Marketing Technology practice together with Exadel’s internal JavaScript community group worked together to produce an in-house extended “hackathon” last December. We had a variety of reasons behind this:

  • Our employees wanted something fun to do that would also allow competition with their colleagues on something not related to a specific client.
  • The Digital Marketing Technology practice was eager to see more development of skills in their area of focus.
  • The proofs of concept (POCs) developed in the hackathon might be worth further development after the hackathon.

We set it up to be spread out over a greater length of time than a more standard hackathon to avoid interfering with any ongoing projects.

The Event

Interested participants were given 4 ideas for a development project:

  1. Enhanced AEM package builder: An enhancement to standard package builder functionality in AEM that would automate common routines performed to AEM content
  2. Universal site login via social networks API: Login component for AEM with social network API integration providing authorization, user data retrieval, etc.
  3. Browsersync + aemsync tools for AEM projects: Speed up UI development process by providing way to see changes “on the fly” in the browser, IDE changes pushed to AEM JCR, etc.
  4. Environment switcher browser plug-in: Quick navigation between different environments, quick page opening in various modes (author, publish, CRXDE Lite), etc.

Three teams selected their topics. After several weeks of hard work and fun, two of the three teams were ready to demonstrate results. The two teams gathered in a conference room in Minsk in person and via online video to work on last minute changes. Then the teams presented to the judges.

The Results

The judges were impressed by both teams’ work. They awarded final scores of 8/10 and 8/10 declaring both teams winners. (All the members of the winning teams will be awarded prizes: tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, etc.)

AEM Tool

The “BackPack” team created a tool for AEM users for creating “rich” content packages that can include both content pages and associated assets, such as graphics or binary files. This allows easy movement of content from one AEM server to another and also easy management of backup copies of content. The tool has a lot of features missing in the out-of-box AEM package manager, such as package size evaluation, sorting, and content filtering.

Chrome Extension

The “Vzhooh” Team created a Chrome browser extension that makes it easy for users to switch between environments and modes by clicking just one button. Users can see the same page working in different modes and environments in a quick and convenient manner. The solution supports importing and exporting configuration settings in a way that can be shared with other team members.

Next Steps

After this positive experience, we are excited to follow up on this event. Here’s what we have in mind as of now:

More Hackathons: Everyone liked the idea of the extended hackathon, but many felt it could be a little shorter. So, we will have more hackathons, but shorter. We’ll also keep working on improving the format in other ways.

Open Sourcing of the Successful Projects: It seems a shame to keep these well-implemented ideas to ourselves. We are working now on how to make these and future successful projects for hackathons available as public open source.

From In-house to Public: Why keep all the fun to ourselves? We are also looking at how to publicize and organize these events for wider participation beyond just Exadel.

Author: Vladislav Baranov