Everything You Need to Know About Hackathon

Laura Angelica updated on 2020-09-25 16:26:16

At any point in your life as a programmer, a friend or colleague can tell you about a hackathon. At a hackathon, anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand programmers come together over a weekend to create the coolest things they can in 24-48 hours. While you will get to walk away with a trophy or a shiny new smartphone because of a brilliant hack, the awards are hardly the best part of the weekend. Be prepared to meet lots of new people, hear about a variety of new stuff, and have a lot of fun!

This article provides an insight into the much-coveted world of the hackathon: its meaning, nature, benefits, and much more.

What is a Hackathon?

A hackathon, also referred to as a code fest, is a social coding festival that brings together computer programmers and other interested individuals to enhance or create a new software program. The word hackathon is an exercise characterized by agility, a portmanteau of the words hacker, which means smart programmer, and marathon. From the open-source culture, the idea of the hackathon, also called a hack day or hack fest, was born. On June 4, 1999, the OpenBSD Hackathon in Calgary, Canada, was the first case called a hackathon. The word 'hackathon' was coined by OpenBSD's Niels Provos.


Today, engineering departments are embracing the practice as a way of integrating intrapreneurship into the enterprise, particularly those in web-based businesses. Hackathons are often performed to accomplish a single objective, but in a low-risk atmosphere, they are also an incentive for organizations to explore employee-driven, out-of-the-box concepts. The evolution of the internet and personal computers made it easier for individuals to become more connected today, and they could collaborate with their teams as well as bring their own computers to work together in a team on projects. However, until 2005, when the modernization of software development technology took place, there was not much creativity in the hackathon format.

What do people do in a Hackathon?

You're going to be welcomed by a bunch of friendly students when you show up to a hackathon, who are above all excited about studying. It depends on the hackathon, so anything from 50 to over 1000 students can be a "bunch." Any volunteers and organizers will be able to sign you in and answer any questions you may have.


For the opening talks, you'll all be shuffled into an auditorium. The promoters will come and teach you a little about the festival and what the weekend is set for. Any firms will fund prizes related to their technologies and will include a simple demonstration of how to use it. Hacking then begins. To have fun making something interesting, you'll partner up with some other students. Using whatever technologies you want, you can make anything you want. And it doesn't have to be for an award to be won. At smaller hackathons (with less than 200 people), everyone will showcase their hacks in front of everyone else in an auditorium. It doesn't matter if your hack doesn't work well or if you think your hack is stupid; sharing what you've discovered over the weekend is an incentive.

They typically do a science fair with hackathons greater than 200 people. Everyone walks around looking at everybody else's hacks, and during the closing ceremonies, a few are selected to demo in front of all the attendees. Awards will be declared, gratitude will be given, and next time, everyone will be asked to come again.

Why do people participate in Hackathon?


Every budding developer goes to a hackathon for a few reasons:

  • To find what you don't know: You'll hear about the methods they use or the tools and services they speak of operating in the course of talking to people.
  • To realize what you do know and you teach people all you know: Technology is huge, and the number of people who go to hackathons is broad. Don't be nervous about the talent being posted.
  • You'll have to pair-program: Pair-programming is perfect if you want to work on completing as much as possible in a limited period of time and would like to speak to a colleague about issues.

  • Free food: The food quality depends on how much attention the organizers pay to it, to be frank. But yes, expect free food on most days.
  • At the end of the weekend, you'll be creating something: You'll most likely have a digital demo, and that's all that matters.
  • You'll meet new friends: Hackathons are time-sensitive events that cause people to work together, often painful. This makes for great moments of bonding.
  • You'll rise as a developer: You will learn a lot by communicating with others, being challenged, and being able to sit down with your team and ask or answer some immediate questions.

How to participate in a Hackathon?

Browsing the Internet for future hackathon activities is the safest approach. You can use five websites here:

1. HackEvents: HackEvents is the "leading search engine for hackathons in the world." Here, you have some different search choices.

2. Hackalist: Hackalist identifies themself as a "directory of hackathons from around the world." By date and price, with an event summary and other essential facts, it lists the hackathons.

3. Devpost: Not only do you discover hackathons with Devpost, but you can also search hackathon projects, submit projects, and find a hackathon squad. As well as sorting through submission deadlines and reward numbers, you can find free or personal hackathons.

4. Hackathons Near Me: You may also access a list of coded hackathons that decide whether the event allows for simulated participation, is for students only, and/or requires a registration fee. The hackathon map can also be displayed with clickable pins.

How do designers prepare a Hackathon?


Before the Hackathon


  • Your laptop and a charger
  • Your phone and its charger
  • A mouse (not mandatory, but useful)
  • Sharpies, assorted colors (not all venues offer this)
  • Snacks and drinks

Some hackathons are overnight, so keep in mind bringing things that will help you be more comfortable. Prepare a comfy backpack with these basics, and depending on what time the event starts, rest and sleep well before the hackathon because you will need it.

During the Hackathon

Every hackathon is different depending on the sponsors and organizers, but keep in mind that the first day is like the first contact where you will see the kind atmosphere that you will be in.

  • Meet other participants and socialize.
  • Think of your ideas for the competition.
  • Ask for the duration to present the pitch.

To form your team, you will need to find a cool group. You'll find certain individuals joining hackathons for pleasure, others for excitement, and others to win the contest. Some of them are going to be newbies, and others are going to be experienced. The trick to avoiding frustration is to find the best fit for you in these events.

Some basics that should have ready:

  • A presentation template (in case you have to present)
  • A team name
  • A team product
  • A lead for the devpost

The team should pick a person who will deliver the pitch. Some individuals have the inherent talent of openly communicating themselves well, so leave it to the person who makes the magic happen.

Are you searching for a tool to help you with your next hackathon? Well, look no further!

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Wondershare Mockitt is an online platform for prototyping and sharing that lets you create immersive software wireframes and prototypes. By validating and implementing the concept using this tool, you can give life to your design concepts.

what is a hackathon

Here's all that you can do with Mockitt:

  • Without any code, you can transform immersive projects into animated prototypes. Both smartphone and PC concept UI prototypes can be tested.
  • You don't have to manually transfer files to collaborators or send links to others in real-time to access, update, and comment on the projects.
  • To help get the team to the same page, Mockitt offers Handoff features that are a labeling function.

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