The Mobile App Hackathon was the first of many hackathons that I’m certain to attend. I didn’t know what to expect, never having been to an event like this before. I’ve been to the academic equivalent (yep, I was a contestant in the ACM Programming Competition), but these relatively free-form hack-fests were a bit of a mystery!

Anyone interested in attending a Mobile App Hackathon here in Seattle? –>

— Alex Donn (@Alex_Donn) March 14, 2011

This hackathon was centered around building innovative mobile applications, and it was backed by some big names in the business with AT&T, Apigee, PhoneGap, Sencha, F5 and ReadWriteWeb sponsoring. The hackathon’s landing page encouraged developers and designers of all backgrounds and experience to come together to build something awesome. Turns out, tons of people were interested, and tickets sold out a week in advance!

An Bui (@anwith1n) and I got to F5’s HQ a little after 7am to pitch in a hand with setup. Shanley (@shanley) with Apigee supplied the coffee, which definitely compensated for the early hour! My t-shirt rolling skills came in handy, although I must make sure to bring a pocketknife to future events – my keys are starting to complain about being used to open boxes. We all set up the SWAG table and verified the functionality of the displays.

Opening all the pretty boxes of swag for #mobileappSEA.

— Shanley Kane (@shanley) April 15, 2011

At around 9am, Alex Donn (@Alex_Donn) with AT&T set us up to check people in, as well as gather ideas of people hoping to team up with others for projects. Not wanting to miss the talks, I raced back to the seat I had staked out before anyone had gotten there. This foresight saved me from having to situate myself on the floor, though Shanley seemed quite comfortable on the beanbags that popchips provided.

So tough to get out of bed but worth it for #mobileappSEA

— An Bui (@anwith1n) April 16, 2011

Apigee, MongoLab, SenchaTouch, PhoneGap, AppMobi, AWS and RedFoundry gave stellar presentations that typically featured live coding demos! Note to all: those canned demos are totally out. If it’s not live, it’s not worth showing. Interested in watching these great talks? Luckily, they streamed the hackathon’s talks on ustream. Be sure to note Brian Mulloy’s (@landlessness) use of my favorite quote by Heraclitus!

Step 3: Make up some rules for the game. #livehacking #mobileappSEA

— Jeremy Grosser (@JeremyGrosser) April 16, 2011

After the talks we sat down to lunch, where I found a fellow RubyMine user in Adron Hall (@adronbh). Sure, he was running it on Ubuntu, and I on OSX, but we united briefly over our common use of the IDE. An, Adron and I chatted with Tyler Phillipi (@Phillipi), Jeremy Grosser (@synack) and Scott Koon (@lazycoder) about our past and present projects.

Now, I’ll confess. At this point, I had been up since 5am, and caught myself falling asleep. I realized that my ability to hack anything halfway decent had gone the way of my alertness and I headed home to get some sleep. Before I knew it, I read that awards are being given out and awesome apps are being showcased. Hackathon success!

Cool - add icons to your mobile desktop that are click-to-call your favs. that is so cool. #mobileappSEA

— Shanley Kane (@shanley) April 16, 2011

The app that Shanley was talking about was created by none other than JD Brennan (@jazzdev), a DocuSign developer! Apps created at this hackathon do not just vanish into the ether; JD is still working on fit and finishing his app.

Watching demos at #mobileappSEA. Awesome mobile apps built with @Apigee @appmobi @awscloud @sencha and more.

— Apigee (@apigee) April 16, 2011

My next hackathon is the DocuSign Hackathon! This epic two-day event has some serious prize money on the line. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) I am eliminated from competitive consideration due to the fact that I am a DocuSign employee. Join me in hacking up some paperless solutions and register for the DocuSign Hackathon now!