Unlocking Innovation: OpenText Application Modernization Hackathon Week 2023 

When OpenText developers from around the globe unite, incredible things happen. This year’s Application Modernization Hackathon Week brought together graduate developers embarking on their tech…

Mark Conway profile picture
Mark Conway

November 10, 20234 minute read

When OpenText developers from around the globe unite, incredible things happen. This year’s Application Modernization Hackathon Week brought together graduate developers embarking on their tech careers, together with seasoned developers keen to push their creative boundaries, to further help OpenText customers accelerate their digital transformation journey. The hackathon had a single rule: Leverage advanced technologies to innovate and solve complex challenges; and a desired outcome: Power progress to help customers modernize and thrive in a multi-cloud world

Each year, the hackathon brings together super-smart OpenTexters who are passionate about our Application Modernization products and keen to experiment to develop new approaches to solving problems. Recently, more than 50 developers from Bulgaria, UK and the US stepped away from their day-to-day activities for a week to team up and unleash innovative ideas to further enhance our solutions and processes. While the hackathon draws on collective brainpower to problem-solve, it’s an excellent way to build team spirit, showcase talent, spark creativity, and stimulate innovation.  

Cross-Generation Collaboration Powers Diverse Ideas  

For us, this year’s hackathon celebrated teamwork and innovation. At the end of the week the results demonstrated the power of the collective – that fantastic sense of achievement when we come together and go beyond to realize the unimaginable. Working across several generations, the hackathon showcased the strength of diversity in unlocking innovation. With a diverse range of ideas and views across generations, cultures and geographies, the projects submitted focused on helping organizations gain competitive advantage by speeding up productivity, enhancing product quality, and tightening security.  

The hackathon week closed with 23 projects presented to the judging panel, made up of technology leaders across OpenText’s Application Modernization business unit. From the many innovative ideas brought forward, several have been put into OpenText’s research and development pipeline to test, build and deploy.

Snapshot of Hackathon Highlights: 

  • Visualize Access and Authorization: Top place went to the team who developed an innovative security visualisation to save time and reduce the potential of the wrong users being able to access sensitive functionality or data. Managing and reassessing settings in any role or rule-based access control system to meet corporate requirements can be tedious and error-prone. It’s often during this process that potential vulnerabilities are inadvertently introduced. Providing an intuitive visualization as to how users, groups and resources are connected greatly simplifies the management, and could provide a view of configurations to external security auditors.
  • Accelerate product delivery: One team created a new tool for OpenText developers to simplify and automate repetitive tasks, enabling consistency in development environments, reducing the time to set-up environments, and on-board new engineers. As environments and supply chains become increasingly complex, automation is critical. Many engineers are all too familiar with “works on my machine” frustrations. This utility has already been adopted by over 50 engineers, which is immediate proof of its value.  
  • Simplify modernization: Another team implemented the “ELSE IF” construct in the COBOL language. This stimulated some thought as to why languages like C++ and Java don’t need this construct, whereas languages like Python and perhaps COBOL do. COBOL’s EVALUATE statement (analogous to Java/C “switch”) meets this need, but in bringing COBOL to new engineers may be there is a case for ELSE IF.  

The most amazing thing about this project is that it was accomplished by a team of recent graduates, who were undaunted in working on what is perhaps the most complex compiler in the world (COBOL has the most extensive grammar I know). Scot Nielsen, Product Manager, summed it up well: “This really challenges my perception of what is possible with new team members and how quickly they can contribute to our products. Amazing what can be achieved by smart people, regardless of experience.” 

Incorporating AI, our developers created a variety of solutions to intelligently automate processes. With smart automation, productivity and quality is boosted – freeing up valuable time for customers to further invest in their business. Bringing 50-plus developers together to break barriers and go beyond is truly an honourable mission. It’s an exciting time to be a developer – to play a key role in shaping tomorrow’s world.   

Explore OpenText Application Modernization to unlock the value within core business applications.  

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