Sitecore Hackathon 2019 - My Experience

This past weekend, 97 teams of enthusiastic Sitecore developers participated in what's now a yearly tradition, the Sitecore Hackathon. This year, I was able to participate and wanted to thank Naim Alkouki @SitecoreNaim and Sasha Kachanov @SitecoreSasha for being excellent teammates.Sitecore Hackathon Logo

What is the Sitecore Hackathon?

The Sitecore Hackathon is a 24 hour coding challenge, where teams of up to 3 developers work on building a creative and useful Sitecore module according to pre-defined categories.

The categories for this year were:

  • Best enhancement to the Sitecore Admin (XP) UI for Content Editors & Marketers
  • Best enhancement to Sitecore Commerce Business Tools UI
  • Best extension of the editing experience for SXA in Experience Editor
  • Best use of SPE to help Content authors and Marketers
  • Best enhancement to JSS to change a JSS component rendering behavior based on user's session data
  • Best use of xConnect and/or Universal Tracker

The modules needed to work in Sitecore 9.1 and will be judged on the code, documentation, as well as the creativity and usefulness of the solution to the problem that was solved. All submissions were submitted via a public github repository.

Here is my team's submission:

My #SCHackathon Experience and Tips for Hackathon 2020

After a full day of work on Friday, I will admit that I looked forward to the Hackathon with foreboding. My brain was tired from debugging a frustrating problem at work and the evening was just getting started. I chose to spend the Hackathon at my work office,

Before the Hackathon started, I made sure to have enough food and snacks to keep me and my team going throughout the night. Here are just some of the snacks that we had at the office.

Table full of snacks

My team was called $name, a throwback to the Sitecore token that is replaced with the name of an item upon item creation. As I mentioned earlier, my teammates were Naim Alkouki and Sasha Kachanov.

About an hour before the Hackathon categories were to be released, Sasha and I were scrambling to make sure that our local Sitecore sites were up and that our Visual Studio solutions were working as expected. We ended up coming across some issues that we were able to resolve thanks to Sitecore MVP James Gregory @jameagle11, who was also participating in the Hackathon. Our problems were thankfully resolved, and once the categories for the competition were released, we began to work.



For those looking to complete the Hackathon next year, I will include some information that I learned as tips. The general rule of thumb is to work as efficiently as possibly in order to complete the task in the short amount of time given.

Tip: You only have 24 hours, do not pick too difficult of a category or topic!

Over the next hour, Sasha, Naim and I brainstormed various ideas for modules. We settled on the category "Best enhancement to the Sitecore Admin UI", since we thought we had a pretty good idea for a module, and weren't as familiar with the other categories given. Our idea was to create a "Go to Item" button to navigate to the selected item in Multilist field and Reference Fields, since it's a frustration that many of us had experienced when going through Sitecore content items.

Tip: Try and have all of your teammates together in the same location

One thing that made our work a bit more challenging, at least initially, was that Naim was working from home for the first several hours. He did come to the office at around 9am the following morning, but for those first several hours, working together with him was a bit harder. Sasha and I were sitting next to each other while we worked, which made it easier for us to to collaborate.

Developer sitting at a computer

Tip: If you're exhausted and feel unproductive, a powernap really helps!

Sasha and I decided we should each take a nap for a few hours at around 2am, since it was pretty clear that our productivity was going down fast, and that investing a few hours into sleep would pay off. I brought an inflatable air mattress and a sleeping bag, and am very grateful that I did!

The next morning, Naim came into the office and we were able to finish up our task. We finished the majority of the coding around 12 noon and spent a few hours finalizing and testing our module. This included installing the finished module on a clean Sitecore 9.1 install to make sure that we included all of the necessary files.

Tip: be sure to devote at least 2 hours to documentation

For us, creating the documentation took about 2 hours. You may not think it necessary to devote as much time to documenting, but you definitely don't want your submission to be disqualified because you did not have time to finish it all up. Give yourself enough time!

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed the learning aspect of the Hackathon. It was challenging, even grueling at times, and when coming in to work on Monday, it really doesn't seem like you had much of a weekend. Nonetheless, I will likely be back next year. 😀

Team $name

Thank you, Akshay Sura @akshaysura13 for putting this Hackathon together, and to all of the judges who will be scrutinizing the submissions!


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