(outdated) Updated: How to prepare for a Hackathon with IBM Cloud?

In this new blog post I want to address a common situation for developers: You want to participate in a hackathon, and you plan to use IBM Cloud, but you have never used it before. How to prepare? So I created a newer version of my older blog post: How to prepare for a Hackathon with IBM Cloud 

IBM Cloud provides a huge amount of different services, runtimes, and more. From my point of view, one of the most important objectives in a hackathon is:

Run your developed application instance live! To do this you need a runtime 😉

Let’s start with the basics

Let’s get a basic understanding of what does IBM Cloud provide and where to find how to’s?

The IBM Cloud catalog gives you an entry point to find Cloud Services, Software and Consulting, which are organized by different categories like containers, storage and more as you see in the gif below.

IBM Cloud has a very good entry point for new users with the getting started page. The page is structured in five major steps.

  1. Explore IBM Cloud
  2. See cloud essentials
  3. Start building
  4. Helpful resources
  5. Get community support

The gif below shows the navigation going through the different steps on the getting started page.


Free online trainings

I want to highlight the CoginitiveClass.ai.
Here you get free online education on pure technical or IBM Cloud related topics. An awesome start into IBM Cloud is the training IBM Cloud Essentials, it take approximately 3 hours. The gif does provide a short impression of CoginitiveClass.ai webpage


What is relevant for developers?

If you are a developer,  IBM Developer is a very good entry point to:

  • … dive into technology topics
  • … see what’s trending
  • check out Call for Code and join a community which building open source projects to fight back against the most pressing issues of our time.
  • …  check out Code Patterns, Tutorials, Videos and Articles about open technologies on IBM Cloud 

This gif gives you a short impression of the IBM Developer webpage and how you can find content for example for “Cloud Native OpenShift”


Quick and easy start at the hackathon

  • Runtimes

The most relevant topic to run your app as fast as possible in IBM Cloud are the runtimes.  You can choose runtimes from three major open source based technologies:  Cloud Foundry, Serverless or Kubernetes.

I like Cloud Foundry the most for a quick start at a hackathon. You instantiate one of the common build packs like Node.JS or Python in minutes and have an app with https and a free unique url available on the internet.

Create a Python Cloud Foundry App on IBM Cloud in 5 minutes.

  • Services

As you notice, there is a huge amount of services available on IBM Cloud. From my perspective the easiest way to start and to integrate state-of-the-art AI services is to use the Watson Assistant service. This is the underlying service for each potential AI user interaction in your application.  Here is a quick how to start with Watson Assistant made by IBM Developer Advocates.

  • Prototyping

I love to use the open source developer tool Node-RED for prototyping. From my perspective this is the best and most flexible choice to build easy integrations for almost all web technologies in a hackathon (Web Socket, REST, HTML and so on). To get familiar with Node-RED, just follow the Getting Started page. 

Make the most out of Node-RED for your powerful prototyping on IBM Cloud. I made a short and more detailed youtube video: How to setup the Node-RED Starter package in IBM Cloud?

  • Feature  Code?

Usually you get a feature code for IBM Cloud from IBM, when you attend at hackathon. You can apply this feature code by following the IBM Cloud documentation: Applying feature codes to Lite accounts. The feature code upgrades the free IBM Lite Account to a Trial Account.


After you have applied the  “feature code” your Account Type is changed to Account Type Trial (free). The Account Type Trial  is, as far as I currently know, not listed in the IBM Cloud documentation .


As far as I know, with the Account Type Trial, you can use all free and lite services inside IBM Cloud, including the creation of a free Kubernetes cluster and you don’t need to enter your credit card number.

So, if you are a Hacker you can just register yourself at IBM Cloud and start today 😉

I hope this was useful for you and let’s see what’s next?



PS:  By the way, you can use the IBM Cloud for free, if you simply create an IBM Lite account. Here you only need an e-mail address and for more information about IBM Cloud information sources? 

#IBMDeveloper, #CloudFoundry, #IBMCloud, #Hackathon, #NodeRED, #WatsonAssistant, #FeatureCode 

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