My notes and ramblings, normally about automation

VMworld US 2018 - It's Hackathon Time!

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VMware VMworld Hackathon

I blinked and it’s already August. That means it’s almost VMworld time! At VMworld, one of my favorite events is the Hackathon put on by the great folks at VMware {code} for the last couple years.

VMworld US 2017 - Hackathon Group Picture

If you haven’t been to one of the VMware {code} Hackathons, the whole idea is to create or join a team and code some kind of idea to fruition! The great part about it is that this event is for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your skill level is, you could be a beginner or a seasoned vet. It doesn’t matter what the idea is, it doesn’t even need to involve VMware products! Most importantly, it doesn’t even matter if you know someone on the team! This is a community event, so get to know your fellow coding enthusiasts!

Overview

First things first, the what, the when, and the where. This year, the Hackathon is being run a little different. The Hackathon actually kicked off on August 6th, so you’re all set to create teams and start collaborating on a project! (And no, that doesn’t mean you’re late either)

The event concludes with the official session:

  • Name: VMware {code} Hackathon
  • Date: Monday, August 27th, 6:30PM
  • Room: TBD (but you can assume it will be at/around the conference area)

As always, the in-person event will conclude with short (timed) presentations from each team to show off what has been accomplished!

Getting Involved

Next, let’s take a second to go over some of the basics for joining and participating.

  1. Register for VMworld - The Hackathon is only available to VMworld attendees, besides what’s the fun in not being there to collaborate and present with your fellow teammates during the live portion of the event!
  2. Register for VMworld Session: CODEHACK - This is the session number for the Hackathon itself.
  3. Register at VMware {code}’s HackerEarth site - Hackerearth is being used as the collaboration tool for the event. This is where ideas are submitted, teams are joined/created, discussions are had, etc. (Note: The Hackerearth account is free and does not require any additional funding)
  4. Check out the themes - If you don’t quite know what you’re going to focus on «hacking» these themes are there to help out. THere’s Blockchain, Pivotal, VMware Kubernetes, Dispatch, PowerShell, Python, VMware Cloud on AWS, and an open theme. The open theme is just that, open. You can use any programing language, any products, any APIs, etc. It’s completely up to you!
  5. Create or join a team - Check out the teams and see what’s already been proposed. If you don’t see something that strikes you, create your own. If you create a new team, add as many details to the description as possible. THat’s one of the easiest ways to recruit teammates. A fantastic example is the ‘View API & PS’ team: Hackathon Team Example - View API & PS
  6. Join the VMware {code} Slack Group - This is optional, but the Slack group is a fantastic resource full of amazing people that you can interact with all year! Notably, Slack is a fairly easy manner to discuss things amongst teammates (even after the Hackathon concludes) or with the event organizers and judges.

Now, you can get onto the fun stuff: CODING!

Tips & Tricks

I’ve been a team leader and team member for the last 4 Hackathons, so let me share a couple things I’ve learned over the years.

  • Have goals and/or milestones, short term and long term.
  • Ten team members are a lot. Be able to breakdown those goals so that smaller groups can work to accomplish them. (Parallelism!)
  • Designate roles. Roles could be: project manager, presenter, subject matter experts for different areas (SMEs), etc.
  • Create a private VMware {code} Slack channel and begin getting to know your teammates.
  • Use source control. Create a GitHub/GitLab/BitBucket/etc repository to keep everyone’s code in-line.
  • Take note of all your accomplishments, no matter how big or small.
  • Take a bit of time to prepare for the end-of-evening presentation. The time flies by, you’ll want to make sure to hit all of your accomplishments for maximum judge impact!
  • Just because the evening is over doesn’t mean the project is done! Keep in touch, continue working towards those goals. Maybe even continue it in next year’s Hackathon!

FAQ

There’s always a bevy of questions regarding the Hackathon event and, with the change in format, this year is no different. Let me cover some of the most popular asks:

  • Do I need to have any coding experience? - No, absolutely not. This event is for everyone, regardless of skill level!
  • I just registered for VMworld, am I too late? - No! You can register for the session and join a team at any point between now and Monday, August 27th.
  • Do I need to register for the session and at Hackerearth? Yes, you should be registered at both of those points. Sorry for the inconvenience, but it’s much better than the Google Sheet we had last year!
  • When can teams begin working on their project? - Teams can work on their projects anytime between now and the end of the Hackathon event on Monday, August 27th.
  • My team isn’t working on their project until the live event. Will we be at a disadvantage? - No. There’s no requirement to work on your project immediately or leading up to the event.
  • My team completed our project before the live event. What will we do that evening? - That’s up to the team lead. You might want to work to refine the project more or just relax and enjoy the social component of the evening!
  • What if we don’t finish? - As with every coding project, the job is never done. Present what you’ve been able to accomplish!
  • What format should our presentation be in? - This is completely your choice. You’ll be given a video cable (presumably HDMI) to connect a laptop and a set period of time (2 to 5 minutes)
  • Does our team have to use a VMware technology in the project? - No. You’re at VMworld, so it would probably make sense to have something VMware related but it isn’t required.
  • Will WIFI be an issue at the event? - The VMworld WIFI will be used during the event, so bandwidth shouldn’t be an issue. However, that also means that connectivity between systems on the WIFI network probably won’t be possible so plan accordingly.
  • Are labs provided? - No. In years past there were NUCs and SuperMicros used to help facilitate a team’s progression with a live vSphere environment but, with the change in format and the amount of effort to maintain those systems up to and during the event, the decision was made not to make live environments available.
  • Who do we bribe to win? - The judges have been posted on the VMware {code} blog: Get to know the 2018 Hackathon judges…
  • Win? Wait, are the prizes? - The prizes have yet to be released, but they’ll be great!
  • Can I just observe? - Yes, absolutely. However, I would highly encourage you to get involved with a team. This is as much a social event as a coding event!

Wrap-Up

In summary, if you’re attending VMworld and have any interest in being involved in one of the most creative and hands-on events of the week… The Hackathon can’t be missed and I hope to see you there!

If you have any comments or further questions, send me a message on Twitter or in the VMware {code} Slack group (username: kmruddy).