Microsoft to release its hackathon help tool to the world

oneweek Hackathon
The Irish team at Microsoft's oneweek Hackathon. Image: Microsoft



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4 September 2015 | 0

Microsoft is planning to bring its internal tool for running hackathons to the public next year, starting by allowing a few select colleges to test drive it at their own events.

It’s part of a plan by the company’s Garage division to help other organizations get better at handling the administrative side of organising marathon hack sessions like the three-day-long bonanza Microsoft held as part of its Oneweek employee team-building session in July. Known inside Microsoft as the “Hackathon interactive project site,” it was built to help 13,000 employees and interns work on 1,700 projects during the Oneweek hackathon.

Now, Microsoft wants to make it available more widely to provide other hackathon organisers with the same tools it uses. The interactive project site gives hackathon participants several useful tools: They can search for projects to join, search for other people to work with, and share code from the projects they’re working on. Once they’re done, it serves as a showcase for projects that people have completed so that other participants can see what their peers have been up to.

Hackathons – marathon sessions where groups of people work on projects that are usually technical in nature – have become popular ways for people to get together and try out interesting concepts.

Microsoft’s tool was created to make it easy for people to get together and work on a project. Users can search for fellow hackers based on the skills those people have outlined in a personal profile. The site allows searches by both technical skills and non-technical skills, so hackers can find C# programmers, database engineers, graphic designers, marketers and everyone in between.

In addition to connecting hackers with projects, the tool also provides easy access to resources that teams need when they’re preparing to work on a project. As you might expect, users can easily get to Microsoft development tools like its Visual Studio development software and Azure cloud services through the platform.

The tool was only designed to be used inside Microsoft, but people inside the company liked it so much they wanted to share it with others. Marketers and salespeople who participated in hackathons wanted to let people outside Microsoft have access to it. 

There’s still plenty of ground to cover before the tool can be released this tool to the public. Piloting it with colleges will be a key step towards it release, but there’s still work to be done before schools can get their hands on it, including handling issues related to privacy and drawing up licence agreements.

IDG News Service


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