ServiceNow Knowledge17: Looking Back on CreatorCon and Hackathon Success

ServiceNow’s Knowledge17 conference and expo featured a full creative developer track in the shape of the now much anticipated CreatorCon (See here for the amazing winners’ news) and also its dedicated Hackathon.

Some 300 individuals, from a diverse set of professional backgrounds, enrolled for a day of service-centric creativity. As is typical with these events, hard core developers were joined by project managers and non-coders in a collaborative environment where teams were tasked with building service-oriented solutions in a full day’s work.

Teams assembled from Europe, the Americas, India and Australia to work with ServiceNow’s ‘Istanbul’ current product release. With ServiceNow ‘Jakarta’ currently in preview, the opportunity to extend the functionality of real solutions built at CreatorCon served to inspire the teams even further.

Teams and themes breakdown

In terms of team breakdown, participants came from customers, partners and System Integrators. Representing a range of industry verticals, this year’s hackers included attendees from Financial Services, Telecoms and Data Center Providers.

Teams worked to three themed solution goals:

  1. Business Solutions
  2. Innovation
  3. Social Good

“It’s always inspiring to engage in this type of event, but this year’s Hackathon stands out due to the number of attendees and the interpersonal engagement that the team members quite clearly enjoyed at this serious, but also fun event,” said Chris Pope, Office of the CSO at ServiceNow. “As the CreatorCon hackers worked to solve solutions that tackle real business problems, they were able to code directly inside the ServiceNow Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE) building both forms-based and portals-based solutions.”

Scoping out the scoped app repository

ServiceNow Studio’s browser-based toolset can be used to create any type of application file. Added to this, ServiceNow Studio’s IDE is integrated with Git and the ServiceNow ‘scoped app’ repository to give developers a powerful means of implementing a modern and agile development process.

Featuring a gamification element throughout, the Knowledge17 CreatorCon Hackzone featured breakout coding areas showcasing specific equipment for hackers to test out deployment use cases. Zones were built for drones, Amazon Alexa integration, a ticket reader machine, a bar tender robot and an Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled Lego train set.

Commenting on the events this week in Orlando was Allan Leinwand, Chief Technology Officer at ServiceNow. Leinwand explained that, operationally, the ServiceNow Hackathon now forms an integral part of CreatorCon at every ServiceNow event of this kind. This year’s event saw 22 teams tasked with building apps inside just eight hours. The teams coded in JavaScipt the entire time using the rules based engine and the workflow capabilities of the ServiceNow platform. The ServiceNow platform also allowed the teams to extend the User Interface elements of their applications using AngularJS and the Bootstrap JS Widgets.

“Some of these team members only just met here at CreatorCon. What is more, some of them featured a mix of Scrum-type project managers alongside more hard core developer/programmer professionals,” said Leinwand. “I’ve spent my whole career going between consumer and enterprise software…and the funny thing is, enterprise software today has become just as sexy as consumer software or games. This very much comes down to the way enterprise software is becoming consumerized.”

Leinwand explained that the ServiceNow Hackathon application creations typically fall into the three grouped zones of business apps, innovation and social good. This has meant that the company now decides to award one winning entry in each of these three categories.

“All Hackathons at our events (and others for that matter) have typically been staged on the periphery of the main show floor somewhere out on the edge. The really interesting thing about what we have done this year is to locate the CreatorCon and its Hackathon right in the center of the main exhibition arena. This has meant that literally every attendee has walked past these guys and many have naturally stopped and engaged with the hackers themselves and the support staff. I’m excited by this as it clearly shows ServiceNow’s commitment to the developer community as a whole,” enthused Leinwand.

Winning team profiles

The Innovation category winning team was called Hashtag. This team built a voice integration application function into ServiceNow using the native voice recognition that ships as standard with the Google Chrome browser.

The business solution category winning team was named Team Undefined. This team built an application called GreenLight, which was capable of presenting a visualization of the carbon footprint of an enterprise. This functional visualization also allows users to actually manage and alter working elements and affect the energy consumption rates of the customer using it.

The social good category winning team was called ABC Social. This team built an application that allowed users to automatically find charitable events that they wanted to participate in inside their local region and use tools to automatically sign up for it and make a donation.

Day three keynote

ServiceNow used its day three keynote to celebrate CreatorCon with an address delivered by Pat Casey, SVP & General Manager, Platform Business Unit at ServiceNow. Casey walked us through a brief history of computing time from mainframes to minis, to client-server and onward to the birth of the web.

Extended elements of this deeper-tech keynote session were dedicated to developer testing and a practical working demonstration of how the ServiceNow Automated Test Framework works. With many of the conceptual applications developed at ServiceNow CreatorCon and Hackathon events being taken forward into intended production environments, this testing and debugging functionality (which arrived in ServiceNow’s Istanbul release) will help developers refine the applications that they are now building on the ServiceNow platform.

Visit the ServiceNow community pages here for more on the Knowledge17 CreatorCon and Hackathon.

Adrían Bridgwater
Technology Journalist tracking 'developer' for Computer Weekly, Forbes, The Register & Internet of Business.

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