2.Â Network and pick a good team
Who needs caffeine to stay up for 24 hours when you have a hackathon to help you do it? Highlighting seasoned developers, enthusiastic hackers, endless coding and a competitive atmosphere, hackathons have become the new craze. With sponsors ranging from schools to large tech companies, hackathons are being hosted all over the country on a year-round basis. In the next few weeks, some of the largest hackathons of the year are taking placeâ€”the largest of which is the TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon in San Francisco, CA. On September 19, hundreds of hackers will gather for over 24 hours of hacking, and they will all have the same goal in mind: to develop the coolest, most innovative hack in a short amount of time. Ultimately, this is the goal of any developer, coder or hacker who enters a hackathon. Whether itâ€™s a full-fledged hackathon event or a friendly online competition, here are 10 tips to building that winning app:
1. Set achievable goals – You can still develop the winning hack without going â€śall the way.â€ť You may not have a fully functioning product, but as long as the idea and the back-end is in place, youâ€™re in good shape.
4. Use source control management – Control systems, such as git, will save you pain and frustration towards the end of the hackathon. You will be able to track every change that was made to the code and, in the case of a malfunction, discover the change that broke functionality.
5. Use existing frameworks and libraries – Donâ€™t let the basics, such as how to make HTTP calls, hold you back during the hackathon. Do the research beforehand to familiarize yourself with the programming languages and technologies youâ€™ll be using.
6. Leverage example code to accelerate development – Chances are thereâ€™s a recipe or bit of sample code available that has a similar framework to the hack you had in mind. Donâ€™t recreate the wheelâ€”instead, utilize the knowledge and experience of other coders to accelerate the development process.
8. Use a PaaS for deployment and hosting – While you may have superior sysadmin skills, that doesnâ€™t mean you should use them. Given your time limit, it is wise to use a PaaS offering, like IBM Bluemix, to allow you and your team to focus on writing code, building, deploying and testing your app.
9. Donâ€™t forget about your presentation – Whether youâ€™re hacking and coding up until the last second, or you have an hour to spare, you must always remember to plan time to prepare for your presentation. In the 60 seconds to five minutes you will have to present to the judges, you want to ensure you highlight all of the requirements and do so in a way that showcases your app.
10. Have fun! – Everyone loves a little friendly competition, but donâ€™t let it get in the way of networking and socializing with your peers.
No matter what your next hackathon is, these tips are sure to keep you on the right track towards developing that killer app youâ€™ve dreamed of. Thinking of using IBM Watson for your application? For that extra edge, join us for a webinar where you can learn four simple steps for getting started with Watson on Bluemix, specifically for hackathons. From signing up for Bluemix to accelerating your hack with sample code, you won’t want to miss these tips. Register now to secure your spot.
This post originally appeared on The Alchemist Blog community site.