The first standalone Perl Hackathon has been a rousing success, and The Perl Foundation is looking forward to sponsoring two or three each year around the country, or around the world.
From Friday November 10th to Sunday November 12th, over thirty Perl hackers converged on the Country Inn & Suites in Crystal Lake, IL, a far northwest suburb of Chicago. For three days, nearly around the clock, we worked, talked, ate, and worked some more on Perl projects of all kinds. There were hackers from around the Chicago area as well as others from Oregon, California, New York, Ontario and England. Some were only around for one day, while others came in Thursday night and left Monday morning. It was a gathering that let everyone do what they wanted, when they wanted, while still getting work done.
The Parrot project had the largest population working on it. Chip Salzenberg and Jerry Gay flew in to drive the development. Friday morning, there were six hackers who were familiar with Parrot, but when it was over, eight new project members had worked on it. Bugs were fixed, design documents were created, and hackers met other hackers for the first time.
Perl::Critic also had a big showing. Chris Dolan and yours truly met with Michael Wolf and James Keenan to create new policies and hash out design decisions as we pushed to the version 1.0 release of this crucial tool.
On Saturday night, Ken Krugler of the code search engine krugle.com gave a demo of the site, and heard feedback about how krugle.com can help serve the Perl community better. I'm excited about outside companies working to help Perl while helping themselves. Most important, Krugler sponsored the night's Chicago deep dish pizza to feed the hungry hacking throng.
Smaller projects got attention as well. Pete Krawczyk and I worked on projects like ack, File::Next and HTML::Tree, since most of our time was spent running around getting people to public transportation, getting snacks, ordering Chinese food, and making sure everything ran smoothly. For more details on who was there, and what we worked on, see the Hackathon Chicago wiki at http://rakudo.org/hackathon-chicago/.
The one question everyone asked was, "When's the next one?" The Perl Foundation is currently working on ideas, plans, budgets and sponsorship for making more hackathons happens, but we need people to host and organize them. A hackathon is an ideal way for a Perl Mongers group to host an event, but with much easier requirements than hosting YAPC (Yet Another Perl Conference). If you or your Perl Mongers group would be interested in hosting a hackathon, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.