How to Use TIBCO BusinessWorks 6 to Win a Hackathon

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Last week I was in Amsterdam at ING—one of TIBCO’s valued customers—for its annual 24H-CodeIT hackathon. The plan was to use TIBCO ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks 6.2 to implement and invoke APIs for some of the solutions created by participating teams at the event.

The atmosphere was electric. I was part of an ING internal team called “1, 2, 4 Glass Monkeys.” We—along with 780 participants from more than 80 teams—were supposed to work for 24 hours straight.

Ready, Set, Conquer!

My sub team was responsible for the entire backend. Mobile and Google Glass devices would be interacting with the APIs we created in TIBCO BusinessWorks 6. Our mission was to help the ING developers create the APIs and then integrate them ourselves. However, none of the three ING BW6 developers had ever worked nor seen BW6 before this event—in fact, they had just installed the product for the first time earlier that morning.

We first conducted an hour-and-a-half training session to show the ING developers how to create and consume RESTful APIs in BW6. It’s actually quite a simple exercise and they caught on quickly. We then distributed the service implementations amongst the team. Apart from creating APIs, we also had to consume a .NET/Python REST Service. I created a stub service in BW6 and hosted it in about 10 minutes.

We designed the applications as a set of microservices where each REST resource was a separate application. This structure allowed us to keep changing parts of the application without affecting any other part. We used the new remote deployment feature to keep tweaking the APIs as required and then pushed our changes straight to the running appnode. The ING engineers loved that they could try out the APIs themselves using our automated REST documentation served by the Swagger UI.

Developing APIs in 10 Hours—Not 24

The team was able to adapt, model, and host the APIs in the virtual machine in a few hours. We started at 6:00pm and just six hours later, we were close to having the backend completed. Ten hours into the hackathon, we were completely done.

We were very anxious to know the results and very happy that the Glass Monkeys were declared the category winner for ING internal teams. Now we had two more teams with very good projects to beat, and we did. Not only did we win our category, we were declared the overall hackathon winner. Kudos to the team! Kudos to BW6!

I had always heard of folks completing POCs amazingly fast with BW5, in half the time as other platforms; but I had never, until then, experienced this type of productivity firsthand. This hackathon was proof that BW6 continues the tradition set by BW5. It supported rapid development and was easy to use, clearly stable, and ready for prime time. Call me overconfident, but if I want to win my next hackathon, I know which product to use to build APIs.

24H-CodeIT 2014 aftermovie from HAMMERFEST – digital icebreaking on Vimeo.