Node Windows Hackathon brings together Node developers and contributors

Node Windows hackathon

Last Thursday and Friday, the first Node Windows Hackathon took place at the brand-new Garage facility on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, hosted by Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. This free event was open to the public to help us to get to know more members of the Node community and hear feedback about what developers need when working with Node on Windows and Windows Azure. The 50 attendees ranged from novice Node developers to Node experts. We made sure the state-of-the-art Garage facility was available 24 hours a day, and several attendees stayed late into the night on Thursday working on their projects.

A big thanks to all the attendees who put in long hours building apps at the event! We really appreciated the casual and collaborative environment the attendees created, and some of the folks who were new to Node gave us positive feedback on how helpful and supportive the other attendees were.

We’d also like to extend a special thanks to Node core contributors Bert Belder (StrongLoop) and TJ Fontaine (Joyent) for their participation in the event. It was great to have two of the best-known members of the Node community present, and we were also lucky to have a variety of Microsoft Node fans drop in, including Matt Podwysocki, Guang Yang, Cory Fowler and others, as well as Microsoft alums Glenn Block, Tomasz Janczuk and Igor Zinkovsky.

Node Tools for Visual Studio

A highlight of the hackathon was a demonstration of the alpha release of Node.js Tools for Visual Studio (NTVS), a free open-source plugin that turns Visual Studio into a Node.js IDE. Dino Viehland, principal developer on the team that built NTVS, showed off several features of NTVS including Node-aware intellisense, a REPL interactive window, profiling support, git and TFS deployment options, and debugging capabilities for both local code and remote code running on Windows or Linux servers.

Other members of the NTVS team were there as well, including Bart Read of Red Gate, who contributed an integrated user interface for npm. We recorded a video interview with the NTVS team covering their perspectives on building Node tooling for Visual Studio, and we’ll be posting that video in the next few days, along with interviews with some of the project teams from the hackathon.

project demos

Hackathon Projects

After the NTVS demo and word from several providers of services for Node developers working on Windows Azure, the hacking began around 3PM on Thursday. With 24 hours to build a Node project, teams formed around various projects and got to work. Projects included work on unit tests for Node on Windows as well as several app ideas, including:

  • Nick Price, Alex Swan and Rob Smith built Polyominus, a realtime multi-player board game with an HTML5 client that uses socket.io to communicate with a Node service running on Windows Azure.
  • A game that pits two players against one another in the form of characters determined by their activity on their Github repos. Project team Kirk Kohler, Adam Mosher and Jianguo “JJ” Jiang based their work on the Repo Rancher concept originated by John Harrison.
  • Hakon Verespej, Ian Molee, Sirius Strebe and Adam Cox built NodeMetrics, a metric collection and visualization tool that includes an agent that runs on monitored nodes and stores data in a repository in the Cloudant Data Layer database service, as well as an Express-based reporting tool to show a graphical representation of collected stats.
  • Parashu Narasimhan worked on a plugin for the Node-based Karma testing framework to collect performance rendering metrics, enabling developers to track a framework or component’s rendering performance across versions over time.

On Friday afternoon at 3PM, after 24 hours of hacking, the project teams presented their work.  Each team took a few minutes to demonstrate what they had built, and we were joined by a variety of interested Microsoft employees including CTO for cloud and enterprise Dave Campbell, who asked questions of the project teams about their approach and what they’d learned.

Dave Campbell viewing project presentations

Our goal for the hackathon was simply to begin fostering a community of Node developers we can work with to make the Node experience on Windows and Windows Azure better and better over time, and we were very happy with the connections we made and the energy that everyone brought to the event. Despite the lack of competitive prizes, developers stayed late into the night Thursday and several developers continued working right up to the end of the event at 7PM Friday.

It was great to meet so many interesting people from the Node community. Thanks to all who contributed to the event, including the NTVS team, the MS Open Tech team, and our friends from Auth0, Cloudant, StrongLoop, Red Gate, and others. We look forward to collaborating with all of you to put on other similar events in the future!

You can find more photos from the event on the MS Open Tech Facebook page.

Claudio Caldato, Principal Program Manager Lead
Scott Blomquist, Senior Development Engineer
Doug Mahugh, Lead Technical Evangelist
Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.