How Hackathons Inspire Innovation and Creativity at MongoDB
When our engineers aren’t creating the best products to help our customers bring their big ideas to life, they’re working to bring their own ideas to fruition. Launched in 2013, hackathons are a big part of MongoDB’s engineering culture, giving our teams the freedom to create, innovate, and learn. About Hackathons at MongoDB Once a year, members from our Engineering department (including Product Managers, Support Engineers, Developer Advocates, and more) spend a week working on a project of their choice. Whether it be with a team or solo, the sky’s the limit. For some, it’s about creating new features or product updates to serve our customers better. For others, it’s about building internal tools and processes to make their day-to-day easier. Some engineers even use the time to work on passion projects or focus on self-improvement via online courses and reading a backlog of technical papers. No matter the goal, the hackathon is a much-needed and appreciated week for sparking new ideas, working with different people, and building useful knowledge and skills. How It's Judged Our engineers battle it out to be named the winner in one of several categories. To be considered, participants create a project demo and submit it on the Thursday afternoon of hackathon week. From there, the demos are divided among four groups of judges consisting of three or four judges each. By Friday morning, the judges select demos (which are open to all employees for viewing) to move into the final round of judging. The Prizes For our hackathons, engineers aim to get the most votes in 10 selected categories. Some categories include: Most Likely to Be Adored by the Support Team Most Likely to Make the Company 10 Million Dollars in 2021 Most Likely to Be Deployed by Production Best (Ab)Use of Cloud/Ops Manager Best Eng/Non-Eng #BuildTogether Award The Projects Past winning projects that made their way into production include MongoDB Charts , custom JS expressions in the aggregation framework, and GraphSQL support in MongoDB Realm Sync . Out of more than 120 submitted projects, here are few that won our 2020 hackathon: Leafy Catchy Eileen Huang , a Product Designer based in MongoDB’s New York City headquarters, pulled together a team of designers and engineers to build a game users can play while waiting for their cluster to build. “We wanted to show that even when doing something technical such as managing databases, people could always benefit from having a delightful moment,” she says. “Although the game isn’t live, it was a super fun week of exploring various game design techniques and trying to create a fully fleshed-out game with a playable character, sound, game UI, and more.” Evergreen Project Visualizations David Bradford , a New York City-based Lead Engineer for the Developer Productivity team, built a tool to visualize the runtime and reliability of the test suites in MongoDB’s continuous integration system. The tool plots the averages for all the test suites against each other and allows users to click into a given test suite to see a more detailed view of a suite’s history. “The project was mostly to address a personal pain point,” David explains. “We see the effects of long-running or unreliable tests fairly frequently, but given the number of tests we run, it takes some investigation to know which improvements would have the most impact. Building a tool that can visualize the data makes it easy to find which test suites provide the most benefits from improvements. It also enables other teams and engineers to start the investigations themselves.” MongoDB Charts Social Sharing Matt Fairbrass , a Senior Software Engineer based on our Sydney team, originally wrote a proposal for MongoDB Charts Social Sharing as a Request for Comments. However, the hackathon gave him and Senior Software Engineer Hao Hu an opportunity to collaborate on a proof of concept. With the core focus on data sharing, their goal was to make it quick and easy to share individual charts with others — whether via email or by posting to one of the social networks. To do this, they added controls to the chart Embedding Dialog to make this task as simple as the single click of a button. “As the discourse of the modern world unfortunately has shown us, being able to distinguish between what is factual and what is fake is becoming increasingly more important,” Matt states. “A result, data is now more than ever the most important tool we can use to surface the unbiased and unvarnished truth in social debate. But this is only true if the data is accessible to everyone.” Charts are visual by their very nature, he continues, “so it’s somewhat ironic that the current experience of sharing a link to a publicly accessible chart on a social network is anything but visual. So, the second goal of our project was to generate rich preview images of the chart being shared dynamically, and automatically attach them to the social media post by using the Open Graph Protocol , all while respecting the security permissions of the chart as set by the author.” Matt and Hao successfully tested this by extending the existing infrastructure to run an instance of Puppeteer . The system worked so well that they were able to extend the same functionality to support dynamically generating screenshots of publicly linked shared dashboards as a stretch goal. “This project has also opened up other avenues for the MongoDB Charts team to explore for further enhancing the product, so this proof of concept has now been turned into a user story that will later be worked on by the broader team,” Matt says. Raspberry Pi Astronomical Database Bruce Lucas , a Staff Engineer based in New York City, created a project inspired by his personal hobby, which is to design and 3D-print an altazimuth telescope mount. “My goal was to leverage a queryable database of stars to write software that automatically captures images, points the scope, and tracks the moving sky by using a Raspberry Pi,” he says. “To do this, I wanted to test a theory to see if a MongoDB database with geoqueries could be used and would run on the Raspberry Pi.” Pinwheel Emily Cardner , a Campus Recruiting Manager based in New York, partnered with engineers on a project to help manage cohorts of employees. With MongoDB’s robust New Grad Program that allows interns to rotate on various teams before being permanently placed, managing the entire process had become overly tedious and complicated, and she wanted to use an app to make it easier. “Even before the hackathon, I did some research to see if a platform like this existed, but I couldn't find anything,” she explains. “I thought I could throw it out as an option to see if someone looking to join a project wanted to build an app. I knew it could be a cool project working with MongoDB’s Realm product and that there could be an appetite for UI folks, but there was one problem: I’m not technical at all! So, I recruited a few folks via Slack and generated a bit of interest from various teams. They came up with an awesome minimal viable product (MVP) after we had a few brainstorming sessions.” This project is important for a few reasons, she adds. “First, I’m now working with the Engineering Corps team that creates internal tools to turn the MVP into a real product. As it turns out, other folks at the company needed cohort management tools too, so now L&D, Education, and Sales Enablement teams are all working with us on it,” she says. “Second, I learned a lot about the engineering process through this project. It was really cool to create my own mockups and collaborate with the engineers to see how products are created. I think it will help me more when working with engineers in the future.” Emily adds that she may have influenced a new hackathon award category. “I may or may not have made up my own award and then lobbied the judges to include it,” she says. “I thought creating a #BuildTogether award would encourage more people like me who are not traditionally in Engineering to work with engineers and create cool products. The judges agreed, and we ended up winning!” Why This Matters Our engineers covet this time every year to explore, create, and tackle new problems. Hackathon week also offers an opportunity to connect and collaborate with others. Many projects have openings for additional members, allowing employees from various technical areas to partner with people they might not normally work with, establishing a stronger culture, and fostering cross-departmental relationships. Hackathons allow our engineers to work on projects that are dropped or pushed down on the priority list in favor of competing priorities. Even if the projects aren’t implemented, seeing demos and having thoughtful conversations about them helps to spin up new ideas for things to add to our product roadmap. By encouraging people to step out of the day-to-day, take a moment (or a week) to think differently, and work with other people who offer new perspectives, the hackathons not only add value to our product offerings but also help our engineers expand their skills and creativity. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us!
Re-Imagining What A Cloud-Native Database Can Be
COVID-19 has compelled companies of all sizes and industries to reinvent themselves. From the way they work to the way they interact with customers, the pandemic has forced an urgent shift to a digital-by-default customer experience and, as a result, has accelerated the move to the cloud. But as companies make the move, many are finding that the same data silos and operational complexity that thwarted innovation for decades is simply following them into the cloud. Developers responsible for building today’s apps have to work with a patchwork of technologies, data models, APIs, and languages across disparate systems to deliver the right data at the right time to power critical applications and services. To better serve these developers, we’ve expanded our capabilities outside of the core database into a robust data platform we call MongoDB Cloud . At its core is MongoDB Atlas, our fully managed global cloud database, which enables your developer teams to spend less time on undifferentiated work and more time writing code that adds business value. By adding capabilities such as Atlas Search , Atlas Data Lake , MongoDB Charts and MongoDB Realm , which provide a consistent experience for working with data in different ways, you’re drastically reducing the cognitive burden on development teams. Simply put, MongoDB Cloud allows you to easily deploy, manage, and scale data architectures designed to support the converging requirements of transactional and analytical systems within a single elegant platform. Any cloud, anywhere, anytime The pandemic has put a spotlight on resilience and agility and showcased the importance a data platform can have for your business. This has not only accelerated the migration to the public cloud, but also the move to multi-cloud environments. Many of our customers rely on more than one cloud provider, and 55 percent of organizations currently report using multiple public clouds . That’s why we designed our offerings to have the same great developer experience regardless of which cloud provider or providers you use. Since launching in 2016, MongoDB Atlas has always pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in cloud data management, with customers able to deploy their data from more than 75 regions worldwide across AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. And with the recent launch of multi-cloud clusters on MongoDB Atlas, we’ve recast the cloud and development experience again. With this first-of-a-kind capability, companies gain the ability to distribute their data in a single cluster across multiple public clouds simultaneously, or move workloads seamlessly between them. This is true data portability, enabling the freedom and flexibility to use best-of-breed services across multiple platforms, and ensuring cross-cloud resiliency. But we’re not standing still. Introducing Online Archive on MongoDB Atlas Today, we are announcing more innovations that unleash the full potential of business data, beginning with the general availability (GA) of Online Archive for MongoDB Atlas. With Online Archive, you can seamlessly tier your data across fully managed databases and cloud object storage, all while retaining the ability to query it through a single endpoint. Users can create a rule to automatically archive infrequently accessed data in their MongoDB Atlas clusters onto their object store, eliminating operational complexity and transactional data storage costs. All users on dedicated clusters (M10+) can use Online Archive regardless of which cloud provider they are using to run Atlas. If you want to learn more or see if Online Archive could help your organization, watch our deep-dive technical session , which is available on demand and features a live Q&A on Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 3:30-4pm ET. Online Archive gives me the flexibility to store all of my data without inucrring high costs, and feel safe that I won't lose it all. It's the perfect solution. Ran Landau, CTO, Splitit The power of choice Empowered developer teams around the world turn to MongoDB Atlas on their preferred cloud to deliver mission-critical services to their businesses faster. Here are a few customer success stories that are near and dear to our hearts: Ludo King : The small but mighty team of developers behind India’s favorite mobile game, Ludo King, turned to MongoDB Atlas and MongoDB Realm on AWS. The results? They’ve been able to keep building new, revenue-generating features for the game’s half a billion players, while efficiently managing near instantaneous 1000% growth. Toyota Materials Handling Europe : While building the connected warehouses of the future, Toyota Material Handling needed a database as flexible and powerful as MongoDB Atlas, running on Azure, to break down their monolith and transition to a microservices architecture. Boxed : Grocery delivery wholesaler Boxed built its platform on MongoDB Atlas on Google Cloud to accommodate the soaring demand for goods and services due to the pandemic. As brick-and-mortar retailers struggled to keep up with demand, Boxed saw a 30x spike in demand, which they were able to handle because of MongoDB’s powerful data platform. Get started with MongoDB Atlas today. And make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities to explore MongoDB at AWS re:Invent 2020 .
MongoDB at AWS re:Invent 2020
While 2020 has been a challenging year, it has also given rise to new levels of innovative collaboration and agile thinking. Where better to experience both than at AWS re:Invent 2020? At MongoDB, we’re excited to partner with AWS on this free, 3-week virtual event, providing unlimited access to hundreds of sessions led by Cloud experts. Although we’ll miss the grand, buzzing halls of the Venetian Hotel and the celebratory sounds of slot machines this year, it’s still important to approach AWS re:Invent with a focused plan. Think of this year’s event as an opportunity to curate your own perfectly tailored experience. Check out this page for details of our fresh new lineup of deep-dives, targeted jam sessions and — of course — the annual MongoDB late-night party. Here are some of the highlights. AWS Jam — "Excel isn't a database!" Imagine this: It's your first week in a new job, and the VP of sales has already given you an important data task. The good news? From the start of the year, all your current sales data has been stored in MongoDB Atlas — allowing operational and analytical workloads to run on the live data set. The not-so-good news? That wasn't always the case. For years before they switched, their database (well, ”database”) of choice was… Excel. Fortunately someone took the initiative to export that data in CSV format and store it in S3, but now the sales team needs your help to analyze that data — and they need it fast. In our “Excel isn’t a database!” Jam Session, you’ll test and upgrade your skills by connecting MongoDB Atlas Data Lake to CSV data that’s been languishing in an S3 bucket. Then you’ll run an aggregation to complete the challenge and claim points. Game on! This jam session will be available on-demand for the duration of AWS re:Invent Databases & S3: Auto-archiving Breakout Session Databases are built for fast access, but this can also make them resource-intensive. As data grows, you may want to optimize performance (or cost) by migrating old or infrequently used data into cheap object storage. But this presents its own problems: automating the archival process, ensuring data consistency during failures, and either querying two data stores separately or building a query federation system. In this talk, you’ll learn about how we approached these problems while building Online Archive and Federated Query features into MongoDB Atlas, lessons learned from the experience, and how you can do the same. MongoDB Late Nite That’s right: it’s a party! In the spirit of Vegas, MongoDB will be hosting an interactive late-night bash complete with throw-back entertainment at our virtual after-hours event. Like Vegas, there’s something for everyone. Unlike Vegas, the odds are actually on your side. Get your adrenaline going and dial in for exclusive swag at our Home Shopping Network. Just sign on and dial into our custom QVC-reboot every hour for a chance to snag some really cool limited-release items. Stay tuned to the event website to find out what you can win, and when! Are you a Jeopardy lover? MongoDB Late Nite is your time to shine. Exercise your mental reflexes and get those synapses firing with hundreds of other party people inside episodes of dev-focused live trivia. And what kind of revelry is complete without a resident psychic on board? Join us at the Future of Coding for an interactive reading by a VERY accurate psychic. So kick back, grab a beverage and join us at the party from home. Let’s get in the spirit together! Sponsor Page/Online Booth Pop into our virtual sponsor booth at your convenience. Our product experts will be there to answer your questions one-on-one. Alternatively, if casually exploring resources is more your style, check out our self-serve content playlists. View these to dig deeper into MongoDB education, glean customer success stories and get up to speed on the latest product features.
Join Us for MongoDB.live: 10 Reasons to Attend
Digital transformation has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as organizations implement new capabilities to support employees and customers and keep things running. The need to build and deploy modern applications has never been greater. For developers, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity. What more can and should they be doing? MongoDB is hosting a series of virtual events around the world to help developers take a deep breath (including exercise breaks!), connect with their peers and our experts, build skills, and brainstorm over projects and new capabilities. Our MongoDB.live events begin Nov. 10 in Northern Europe, with stops in other regions over the next two months. The agenda is tailored to local audiences, so it will feel close to home even as you join remotely. Each agenda is packed with great speakers and content. You can see what it’s all about — and register — here . There will be something for everyone at MongoDB.live. Here are 10 of my favorite reasons to participate. It only makes sense that we begin our day-long event with an eye-opening cup of coffee. Learn about the chemistry of a strong ‘cup of Joe’ from a professional coffee educator in a session titled, “The Science of the Perfect Cup of Coffee.” Dig into performance tuning with a talk on “system thinking” — a way of thinking about complex systems that is both common sense and counterintuitive. This “tales from the field” session is targeted at developers, architects, DevOps engineers, and DBAs. Get even more value from mobile application data in a session focused on how to use MongoDB Atlas to build a MongoDB Realm-based application. Schema design is fundamental to building and managing databases, so we’re bringing together experts to tackle your questions in an Ask Me Anything panel on schema design. Meet the author (and maybe get a free copy) of the book titled, “Soonish: The Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything.” With a provocative premise like that, how can we not attend? Take a deep dive into the MERN/MEAN stack in a hands-on tutorial. By the end of this 90-minute session, you’ll have a fully managed, auto-scaling application hosted free on MongoDB Atlas. Customer spotlight with Sainsbury, the 150-year-old British retailer that is giving its developers the time and freedom to innovate and push boundaries. Not everyone is an expert MongoDB developer — yet! This “jumpstart” tutorial will help beginners get started with MongoDB’s most indispensable tools, including Atlas, Realm, and Compass. Learn about using MongoDB and Kubernetes together in a session that provides an overview of the architecture, key features, and future outlook of our Kubernetes products. Ask MongoDB! MongoDB VPs of Product Management, Andrew Davidson and Chirag Shah, will field questions from attendees. This is your chance to go straight to our experts with any questions you have. And there will be much more, including community networking, virtual pub trivia, and live Q&A panels. It’s all designed to help you learn, network, and prepare for what’s next — and it’s free. Please join us be registering here .