IBM Bluemix Hackathon


Everything you need to get started at your hackathon.


First things first, sign up for Bluemix! What is Bluemix, you ask? It's IBM's simple and flexible cloud development platform. Whether you're looking to build a web app or a mobile backend in the cloud, Bluemix has you covered with a variety of runtimes (like Node.js, Python, Ruby on Rails, Java, etc...) and services (like Mobile Push, Cloudant, Twilio, MongoLab, etc...) that we're sure will fit your app's use case.

Since this is a short event, a Bluemix 30-day free trial is well suited to anything you're looking to build for now - no up front credit card required either! Once everything is said and done (and you've won, right), you'll have an awesome app running on Bluemix and all the enterprise-grade tools at your disposal to take it to the next level.


Log in and start playing! Head over to the catalog and spin up a boilerplate or a standalone runtime that works for you. Node.js, Ruby, and Java come standard, but you can bring your own (i.e. Python, PHP, etc...) from the Cloud Foundry community. Be sure to check out all of the different IBM, third party, and community services available in the catalog as well.

Once your boilerplate/runtime is up and running, follow its "getting started" guide to download:

  • the starter code that sits behind it
  • the Cloud Foundry command line installer so that you can push your work back up to Bluemix


Once you've installed the Cloud Foundry command line tool, open that starter code in the editor of your choice and make a change, any change. Let us guess, you added the text "Hello Hackathon" somewhere in the UI, didn't you?

Once your code is saved (and compiled if you're using Java), cf push back to Bluemix using the command line and realize the fruits of your labor, live in the cloud! For more info on pushing your code up to Bluemix, see the link below.

P.S. You don't always have to use the command line to push your code into Bluemix, this is just a good place to start. For more options, search the docs for our online editor, Bluemix Eclipse Plugin, or just Google any other Cloud Foundry compatible IDE plugins.


Now that you understand the basics, start thinking (if you haven't already) about what you actually want to build at this hackathon!

Ideation Activity

First ask yourself, who is the end user of my app and what problem(s) am I trying to solve for this persona? Really put yourself in your user's shoes and then write down as many ideas (even crazy ones) as you can that might solve one or more of their problems.

We typically recommend sticky notes for this ideation exercise - especially if you're working with a team.

Silently throw one idea per sticky note up on a wall (time box this to only a few minutes), group them together based on commonalities, notice any trends, and then vote on what makes the most sense. You'll be amazed at how much focus this will bring to you and your team (if you're working on one - alone is cool too)!

We use IBM Design Thinking activities like this one everyday to build user-centric and forward-thinking products like Bluemix. Click the link below to learn more about IBM Design.


As you further define what you're actually going to build, look through the Bluemix catalog again. Determine which services make the most sense for your app. Once you're ready to experiment with or fully implement a service in your app, the Bluemix docs will help you further understand what a service does, how it works, and how your app can connect to it.


Teaming up? Need somewhere simple and quick to manage all of your source code? We've got you covered.

Go to the overview pane for any Bluemix app you've created and click Add GIT up at the top by the app's url. This will place that initial starter code you edited a few steps back into an IBM GIT repo. It links directly to your app in Bluemix (and can auto-deploy to it when the origin is updated). Your source code is kept private by default.



Check out our Dev 2 Dev forum any time you need a bit of extra help. If you ask a question in the forum, tag your post with MixHack so we can track your questions and respond even faster!

Oh, and you can tweet us too (if that's more your style)!


Ready to dive deeper?! We've curated some useful sample code that will help you really WOW the judges:

Java Webapp with Cloudant, Watson. Uses Bootstrap and JQuery also. (tutorial)
Java data mining app
CloudTrader - A Java stock trading app

Picture Finder App
Picture Uploader app using a MySQL database

Simple Rails app
Rails app using an Arduino

Tweet Analyzer
Conference Checkin app

Simple Python App
Python app with Cloudant and a Raspberry Pi

Nutrition Management app using MySQL and PHP and Angular.JS
Simple Getting Started PHP App

Hackathon Pitching

Download PDF


Most importantly, don't forget to submit your app to us at the end of a Bluemix hackathon! Doing this will enable you to win awesome prizes from us (including free Bluemix - to get your app to the next level afterwards). Be sure to ask IBMers at your event about specific prizes. Use the link below to submit that app now!

Hint: to make it count, you'll need a submission code issued by IBMers at your hackathon. One submission per team please.