Employees Go Progressively Rogue in Hackathon Challenge

A few times a year, Black Duck employees set aside two and a half work days to tackle the “Hackathon” challenge. With essentially no rules or guidelines, it was each participant’s job to come up with big innovations for Black Duck.

Rob Pacheco, the Chief Architect who hosted this year’s Hackathon, remarked: “in many ways [the Hackathon] is critical to Black Duck because it’s how our engineers and developers increase a skillset that they otherwise would not use in their day jobs.” The hackathon, a program Black Duck started in early 2014, has spawned countless product enhancements and features — some of which have been added to Black Duck’s own offerings. CoPilot, a tool created by a group of developers in 2016, was adopted by Black Duck and is in beta on GitHub (try it out). CoPilot provides insight into the open source components used by your projects and the vulnerabilities reported against them.

This year, rather than crown first, second, and third place, judges Bill Ledingham (CTO), Jeff Delaney (VP Engineering), and Bob Canaway (CMO) chose to focus on a series of categories that each had a winner, along with a few honorable mentions. Categories included:

  • Most Potential for a Patent
  • Driving Customer Value / Keeping Them Current
  • Understanding Jobs Being Done
  • Marketing Sizzle

The competition was fierce; with nearly twenty projects to choose from, and only five minutes to demo each, the three judges had their work cut out for them.

The co-winner of the “Marketing Sizzle” award went to a team of four: Utsav, Harshad, Abhishek, and Senthil. HubLexa, their hackathon project, answered any Hub related questions posed. One example was: “Alexa, ask Black Duck, what is Apache TomCat?” to which the Amazon Echo responded: “The Apache Tomcat software is an open source implementation of the Java Servlet, JavaServer Pages, Java Expression Language and Java WebSocket technologies.” Correct, Alexa! The other winner was a very timely Minecraft mod.

Another participant, Software Engineer Daniel Rubio, created a 3D image from a single piece of paper using a JavaScript library. Once the camera on his computer recognized the language on the piece of paper, a 3D image of a duck displayed on screen — with the words “Hi, I’m Ducky and Welcome to Black Duck” flashing above his bill.

This latest Hackathon was the first time the challenge was available to employees of Black Duck outside of the engineering department. As Pacheco puts it, “employees are now able to complement each other’s skill sets. An engineer doesn’t know what a graphic designer can do and the graphic designer wouldn’t have the same knowledge base as the engineer.”

The Black Duck teams were able to build useful upgrade and import tools along with some flashier projects in just a few short days. We’re hoping to implement a lot of these creations and can’t wait to see what our employees come up with next. Congratulations to all of our “Ducklings” who won, and thank you to all of our participants!


Kiara White | Marketing Content Specialist
Originally published at
blog.blackducksoftware.com.