For a few days after the 2011.6 Release, Veracode’s Development & Research teams hosted our first ever Hackathon. It’s been a productive year for us at Veracode, and after six product releases and a record number of applications scanned, we felt like it was a great opportunity for us to see what creative ideas our team could come up with if they had a few days of free reign to code anything that excited them (you know, without us Product Managers telling them what to do).
There’s only one major rule: you can work on anything that interests you as long as you can demo it to everyone at the end.
For the few weeks leading up to the Hackathon, we put up boards throughout the office where people could jot down their ideas. We filled up over 10 boards & over 65 ideas were posted!
Last Friday morning, we kicked off the Hackathon with a brainstorming session. People presented ideas that had been percolating for awhile and solicited feedback from the other participants. Projects, teams, and code started taking shape and we were off. We had some conference rooms set aside for group work spaces, but aside from that we tried to keep the formality to a minimum.
Three days later (well, five if you count the people who kept working through the weekend), we were rewarded with an amazing demo day. Almost half of the company was in attendance and we saw demos from over 20 project teams.
Despite our Marketing team’s wishes, the details of most of what was worked on are top secret – but we definitely saw projects that stretched our collective imaginations and used an incredible spectrum of different technologies. Projects fell into a few different categories:
1) Customer & Internal product improvements (which will keep our product team busy for a while): These included a simple upload tool that leverages our APIs to drag and drop apps from the desktop to the Veracode service, and a new bulk processing feature to enable preparing hundreds of applications for upload at the click of a button. We liked these so much that they’ll be shipping soon.
2) Engineering exploration and skill building: things like Google maps mashups, data visualizations, or this script that adds beats per minute values to your iTunes library: http://bit.ly/sOi6pd
3) General technology exploration: for example, we learned that someone’s driveway is not the ideal place to make your first printed circuit board.
On the Product Team, we’re actively looking at the projects to determine where the best features and improvements will fit in our product plan. It was absolutely amazing see how bright our team is and what they’re capable of producing in just a few days!
We finished up with some good natured awards given for categories like Best Mashup, Most Dangerous, Most Usefully Repulsive (hint: it involved Perl), Best Laid Plan, Best Already Shipped Feature, Biggest Win for Veracode, & Biggest Team; to name a few. As we planned the event, we had high expectations for what our team could put together, and we left amazed that those expectations were far exceeded. The energy, enthusiasm, and ingenuity that everyone put into their projects were off the charts. Folks left already asking about when the next Veracode Hackathon will be, thinking about their next project, and talking about what we could do better next time – so I guess we’re going to have to make a habit of this…