MariaDB Foundation at CloudFest Hackathon

CloudFest participants. Credit: René Lamb ©CloudFest

On the 18th – 20th of March there was a Hackathon before the CloudFest conference. This had 11 projects and well over 100 participants every team producing something great. In fact, thanks to the Hackathon, there is a new MariaDB Health Checks plugin available for WordPress.

About the Hackathon

This was my first ever CloudFest and therefore my first ever CloudFest Hackathon, in fact it was my first ever Hackathon full stop. So, of course, I jumped into the deep end and decided to lead a team through the Hackathon.

The general format is that team leads submit a potential project to the Hackathon in the weeks leading up to it. Approved projects then have a couple of minutes to pitch their projects to the Hackathon participants, and participants join the team and project they like the sound of. Two and a half days later the projects are presented and awards are given.

My project was called MariaDB Health Checks and you can read about the project brief here. The reason I decided to create this project was to me it seemed to fit well with the skill sets of the attendees. Many were web developers, some UI developers, some PHP developers. At the moment it appears WordPress is dominating the PHP world, so this seemed to be the perfect target. The MariaDB Foundation loves WordPress (I’m writing this post in WordPress right now) so it seemed like a logical project. A healthy sea lion means helps with a health Wapuu.

MariaDB Foundation sea lion meets the WordPress Wapuu
Wapuu is from WordCamp Varna 2017

Project development

The last time I worked as a PHP developer was around 15 years ago. Back when PHP 5 was the hot topic and I was actually Zend PHP 5 certified. I had a lot of catching up to do with the last 15 years of the PHP world.

I had to give the first pitch and due to a technical issue the slide I was presenting for the pitch wasn’t shown. But I still managed to build a good team for the project.

The weekend was exhausting, but very productive. My team ended up with a repository with over 250 commits and over 1500 lines of PHP code, and a project that worked really well. I broke things a lot whilst trying to merge the barrage of pull requests the team were sending to me due to changes happening so quickly, but this was resolved in the end. On Saturday night I spent a long time learning the WordPress code base so I could be more helpful.

After two and a half days (and sooo much caffeine), we presented our project. There were awards given out to several of the projects, unfortunately we didn’t win, but some amazing projects did. The Wapuugotchi team even created a MariaDB Foundation Wapuu for us!

MariaDB Foundation Wapuu

All the prizes were in the form of donations to Groundbreaker Talents, providing scholarships to people in Uganda. Which in my opinion is an amazing way to do the prizes. It is a friendly competition after all and all the projects can go on to be big things for the community.

All the participants for the CloudFest Hackathon, Credit: René Lamb ©CloudFest

Release and future

After a few review rounds with the WordPress plugin review team, the MariaDB Health Checks plugin is now live. Whilst WordPress plugins are typically stored an SVN repository, we are currently actively developing the project in GitHub. There are a few features now and it is a good framework to add more features to in future. This is a community project and is open to suggestions and pull requests. This is a project that we at the MariaDB Foundation want to support in the future.

Special thanks

I want to thank the organisers of the event, everyone involved and the entire WordPress community for making me feel welcome. I look forward to the MariaDB Foundation helping the WordPress community improve their database story further in the future.

Photo credit: René Lamb ©CloudFest

Published by Andrew Hutchings

Chief Contributions Officer for the MariaDB Foundation