The Sencha Hackathon Recap

There are hackthons. And then there is the SenchaCon hackathon.

Day three of our awesome conference in Austin last week really reaffirmed our belief in the strength of the Sencha community. I’ve rarely seen such a concentration of talent, enthusiasm, and friendship – not mention amazing productivity – come together so well.

We wanted to stimulate competition and organized a number of prize categories for the event. The Google Chrome team sponsored the event as a whole, and also kindly offered Chromebook hardware as a prize for ‘Best use of HTML5 API’. We also offered ‘Best Desktop’ and ‘Best Mobile’ categories, as well as spot prizes for additional interesting application categories.

Once our introductory pleasantries were over, we decided to make sure that teams could get coding as quickly as possible. The amicable vibe of the whole conference helped immediately, as cohesive groups quickly formed around exciting ideas that community members proposed.

Caffeine, power, and a decent wifi connection are the other ingredients required to keep teams working hard during the day. We just about managed all three, and certainly the arrival of the Red Bull support team helped any flagging programmers get through the final few hours.

By the time we reached 4pm – after over 6 hours of frantic coding, an astonishing 20 teams were ready to jump up onto our vast stage and present the results.

And what results they were: we had news visualizations, signal strength detectors, web-based file sharing, games, database administration tools, collaborative drawing and learning tools, social networks, and many many more. The variety was almost as amazing as the quality.

After a very tough judging session, we announced the main winners. And they were:

Best use of an HTML5 API: Lamp Post
Multi-user music file sharing using Chrome’s File API, featuring real-time chat and notification of shared directories using a Node JS backend with node-extjs. The team won a Chromebook and $500, kindly sponsored by Google Chrome.

Best Desktop App: Code Cowboys
A crowd-sourced unit testing application for Ext JS and Sencha Touch. The team won an iPad 2 and $500.

Best Mobile / Tablet App: Presencha
Upload slides in PDF form, and present live to any device for collaborative viewing by an audience. The team won an iPad 2 and $500.

We then had a number of additional categories which teams were gunning for. Each of these teams won $250.

Best Social App: LinkedUp
A mobile social network for entrepreneurs and innovators.

Best Austin-related App: Dirty 6th
Shows bars, clubs and other venues near a user’s location or and in downtown Austin.

Best Educational App: iKnow
A mobile application to learn or memorize anything

Best Social App: LinkedUp
A mobile social network for entrepreneurs and innovators.

Best App by a Novice Team: Doodleshare
A screen-sharing application to allow games such as Charades and Pictionary on mobile and tablet devices.

We also had two discretionary prizes for apps that impressed the judges above and beyond these categories. These were TouchMySql and the German Rockstars team.

At events like this, we hope that every one feels they are a winner! If you were there, I hoped you enjoyed the experience of being able to rub shoulders with your peers and the Sencha teams. It was an awesome way to wrap up the whole conference, and we look forward to hosting you all next year!

Written by

James Pearce heads developer relations at Sencha. He is a technologist, writer, developer and practitioner, who has been working with the mobile web for over a decade. Previously he was the CTO at dotMobi and has a background in mobile startups, telecoms infrastructure and management consultancy. James is the creator of tinySrc, the WordPress Mobile Pack, WhitherApps, modernizr-server and confess.js, and has written books on mobile web development for both Wiley and Wrox.