Taking Home a 2018 Sitecore Hackathon Win

Briana Appel, Marketing Manager

Participating in the Sitecore Hackathon has been a thing here at Verndale for the past few years. A fun thing, a bragging-rights thing. This year was special, however, and way more selfie driven than we could have imagined. As I talked about in my last post, we had 11 team members participate this year from five global locations including: Boston, Vermont, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Quito, Ecuador – all participants developed hackathon entries on the latest version of Sitecore, were bribed with free pizza, and took selfies all night long until their entries were complete.

Just when we thought we couldn’t be any prouder, one of our teams was awarded a 2018 Sitecore Hackathon Win for work in the Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SxA) category – pretty amazing stuff! Naturally, I needed to know more. Was it the pepperoni that gave Santiago Morla and Juan Arias the brain power to not only make it through the night, but also develop a winning entry? Or was there more to the story? Read on to learn what really went down, and how these Verndaliens feel about the big win.


Briana: Congrats on your win, guys! Seems like you really knocked this out of the park. What was different about your participation this year versus your participation in previous Sitecore Hackathons?

Santiago & Juan: This year we were more comfortable with the event format, so we sort of knew what to expect. We had our development environments ready and since we knew this year the Hackathon was all about Sitecore 9, we knew it wasn't as easy to install as previous versions were.


Briana: So, what was the big night like? How did you prep for this year’s Hackathon aside from getting your dev environments up and running?

Santiago & Juan: On the day of the event, we met at one of our homes… of course after shopping for beer. Pizzas provided by Verndale were ready to be consumed, so we were feeling prepared for a long night! When the categories were announced, we decided to participate in the Sitecore Experience Accelerator category because last year we also developed a SxA module, and we were already well versed in how that module worked.

Santiago already had the Point of Interest module ready, but it worked only inside the Content Editor and we thought it would be great to implement it as SxA, which would give the editor the ability to directly add and move the points while designing the page.


Briana: What does your module allow users to do?

Santiago & Juan: This module allows editors to easily add the common "Point of Interest (POI)" functionality to any page. The module displays a background image with some "pinpoints" defined in Sitecore, but dynamically using Sitecore Experience Accelerator in order to allow the editor to preview the results in real time.


Briana: Wow, sounds like you guys were well prepared. Are SxA models easy to develop? 

Santiago & Juan: Creating a new SxA module is relatively easy once you know how it works. The difficult part is integrating it with the existing front end without breaking anything and keeping the dynamic feature SxA offers.


Briana: Any secret recipes or tricks that helped you both to stay awake for so many hours?

Santiago & Juan: After the pizza and beer were no longer with us, we had the company of Juan’s cat and a bottle of bourbon to keep us awake. We worked until 2:00 or 3:00 am and then woke up early the next morning to continue working on our module. The next day was used mainly to make sure everything was working as expected until Santiago had new ideas on how to improve it or how to make it easier to use, then we had to work on those updates (FYI, this happened several times.) Finally, we completed the documentation, recorded the YouTube video, and did a final test to make sure everything worked the way we wanted it to. We finished at about 3:00 pm which was early since we had until 8:00 pm to deliver the module). We’re pretty proud of our submission and are thrilled that we took home a win for Verndale.


And, there you have it. Sitecore, paired with a side of bourbon, a six-pack, and a few pizza pies goes a long way. Feel free to dive into Santiago and Juan’s work here. If you want to learn more about our Sitecore expertise, or chat with any of our MVPs, don’t hesitate to give us a shout!