Getting ready for the hackathon: how to squeeze yourself out in a maximum of 48 hours
How often do you not sleep 48 hours? Do you drink pizza with a cocktail of coffee with energy drinks? Look at the monitor without interruption and tap the keys with trembling fingers? Often, this is exactly what the members of the hackathons look like. Of course, a two-day hackathon online, and even in a “boosting” state, is hard. Therefore, we have prepared some tips for you that will help you coding and brainstorming more effectively within 48 hours. You can check these tips in practice very soon - until May 12, registration for the Digital Breakthrough contest will be held, which will be held in the summer in 40 cities of Russia in the format of hackathons.
Avoid unrealistic goals
Your main opponent is not other participants, but time. The hackathon has a clear time frame, so do not waste precious hours working on unnecessary details of the project. In addition, excessive stress will interfere with clarity of thinking. A minimally viable product that works smoothly can already provide a winning position on the hackathon.
Choose your team wisely
Any, even the most excellent idea can be overwhelmed if there are people in your team who do not understand / do not share your vision or approaches. At the time of the hackathon, the team should become (no matter how trite it may sound) a single mechanism.
Who to invite to the hackathon team? All participants should be keen on coding, otherwise how to hold out 48 hours in a closed space? Let the composition be diverse, do not be afraid to “dilute” your group of technical specialists with a designer or even a marketer - while you are inspired to code, they will help you to correctly place accents and “highlight” the merits of the product for protection before the jury. All team members must be able to work under time pressure and stress, because a breakdown in one of you can disrupt the whole project - just do not meet the deadline.
Get inspired by your peers
Analyze the experience of colleagues: remember your last hackathon, think about which of the participants you remember and how (other people's mistakes are also useful). What tactics did they use? How was the time and tasks distributed? Their experience, successes and failures will help you plan your actions.
Use the version control tool
Imagine: you’ve been in a state of flow for a long time, working on a prototype, here you suddenly find a bug and you can’t understand how many minutes or hours ago and where exactly you made a mistake. Obviously, you don’t have time to “start over”: in the worst case, you just don’t have time to go through all the stages again, and even if you have time, you can show the jury only something very raw. To avoid this situation, it is logical to use a version control system, for example, git.
Use existing libraries and frameworks
Do not reinvent the wheel! No need to spend extra time writing functions that can be implemented using libraries and frameworks. Better focus on features that make your product special.
Use quick deployment solutions
The main idea of the hackathon is to create a working prototype for your idea. Do not spend too much time deploying the application. Learn in advance how you can quickly deploy it to the cloud, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. For deployment and hosting, you can use PaaS solutions such as Heroku, Openshift or IBM Bluemix. You can be an excellent system administrator, but within the framework of a hackathon it is better to simplify your task as much as possible so that the whole team can focus on coding, deployment and testing.
Choose a person in advance for presentation
Presentation is very important! It doesn’t matter how good your prototype is if you fail to present it correctly. And vice versa - a well-thought-out presentation (and we are not only talking about slides) can save a raw idea. Make sure that you have not forgotten all the important aspects: what problem your concept solves, where it should be applied and how it differs from existing solutions. Decide in advance how much time you will need to prepare the presentation and who will be the face of your project. Choose the most experienced team member who has experience in public speaking. Nobody canceled charisma.
Learn nominations and topic in advance
Hackathons are often held with the support of companies from a particular industry. Find out if the partner companies of your hackathon have their own nominations - for example, for using their services in their work.
Do not neglect the study of the hackathon theme! Think in advance and sketch out a list of ideas that you can implement in the competition.
Think about what your team needs for comfortable work?
Prepare all the technical support for your team in advance: laptops, extension cords, cables and more. It’s not only the technology that matters: make architectural preparations, pick up libraries and other tools that you may need. You have to work with your head, take care of the brain: dark chocolate, nuts, fruits contribute to the intense thought process. Energy helps someone, but just don’t bother them with coffee, it will not be good for your health.
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And the last: do not be afraid and do not doubt. Tune in to the working wave and achieve the result. Hackathons are not only about competition, but also about networking and inspiration. The main thing is to enjoy what is happening around. After all, victory is not the only thing you can carry with you.