Amit Jotwani | Front End Developer, Developer Evangelist
August 13, 2014

The Summer of Hacker League


“Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.” ~ Richie Norton

With a product like Hacker League that’s loved and used everyday by developers, hackathon organizers, and just plain hackathon enthusiasts, we’ve been taking a closer look at exactly what would really make the experience better for our Hacker League community.

With Swift’s help, we dug into the Hacker League infrastructure, explored its nooks and crannies, and mapped out what we need to do in the next few months to improve the performance and user experience.

But what’s really cool is that we’ve pulled together some amazing talent to get to work on Hacker League. Today, I would like to share some of the things that we’ve been working on.

Here’s what we’ve been up to

The message we heard loud and clear from the community back when we took over Hacker League was, “Hacker League is awesome; don’t screw it up with a million unnecessary features.” So instead of adding unnecessary features, we’ve spent most of our time simplifying the existing features and improving the usability. Here are a few developer requests we’ve received and how we’ve responded:

Make the Hackathons page load faster:

We’ve rolled out a faster & improved performance of the Hackathons list page, making it easier to quickly find the hackathon you’re looking for.

Make it easier to add a location to my hackathon:

We’ve redesigned the Address/Location selector for the “Create new Hackathon" page. It uses the Google Maps API to provide Address, City, State, and Country suggestions as you type, making it faster for you to create your hackathon and ensuring that the location is in a standard format, making it easier to search and discover.

Give me a visual map to help interested developers locate my hackathon:

A map with the chosen address plotted on it is then displayed, assuring organizers that users will be able to find directions using Google Maps.

Make it easier for me to sort/arrange the wiki pages for my hackathon:

Ability to reorder/arrange the wiki links on the left side bar. The wiki links on the hackathon details page are now sorted alphabetically, instead of creation date. You can now control the order of the wiki pages simply by adding a page order number in front of the wiki name. This will ensure that they are arranged in the order you want, not the order you may have created them in.

Allow video embeds:

The Hacker League wiki pages now support video embeds, so you can now include YouTube/Vimeo videos right into the wiki itself.

Help me make my hackathon pages look pretty:

Introducing Hacker League Markdown Templates—ready to use Markdown templates for Overview, Schedule, Location & other popular pages you as an organizer might need to create for your hackathon. All available here on GitHub.

Add support for BitBucket:

You now have a choice to include a link to your GitHub or BitBucket repos on your user profile page.

I want to throw a private, internal hackathon:

Hacker League Enterprise is now being used by Intel customers. General Electric used Hacker League Enterprise to run their recent hackathon in May at their GE Software headquarters in Northern California.

Get rid of bugs:

We removed plenty of bugs, annoyances, and enhancements (thanks to those of you who posted them on UserVoice).

What’s next?

Among many requests we received from you, these two stood out pretty distinctly, and will be rolling out shortly:

  1. Refresh the website design for Hacker League: Make it beautiful and more functional, without losing the simplicity.
  2. Easily search for hackathons: By name and location.

This is just a start. We plan to do a ton of work on Hacker League over the next few months. We’re also tapping the expertise of people across Mashery with skills in design, user experience, and front-end web interfaces. With their help, we’re going to build a better Hacker League.

We’re listening

We want to know what new features you’d like, what current features need tweaking, or whatever you’d like to share. If you have ideas, thoughts, suggestions, and requests, we’d be grateful if you’d put them into writing and drop us a note, or tweet us at @hackerleague.

We will do our best to keep you well informed, seek your feedback, and make Hacker League better than it was before. Stay tuned for what’s next, and please keep the feedback coming.

@Amit Jotwani: Hacker League Community Guy & Front End Developer