The nerd glitterati of TC16 gathered with one mission: Choose the winner of the Live Hackathon in Austin. At stake? Nothing less than $1,000 and the coveted Trophy of Eternal Glory.

Ben Lower, Tableau’s Dev Platform Leader, recapped the journey of the #DataDev Hackathon for the crowd.

Starting Monday at 8 a.m. and coding like mad until 10 p.m., 299 hackers consumed 1,733* cans of Red Bull and laid down some serious lines of code to come up with some seriously awesome extensions and mashups using the Tableau Developer Portal.

With the collection of APIs, they could do everything from web app viz integration to automating and managing Tableau Server. Developers could use any part of the platform in their hacks, or they could combine multiple parts for exciting mashups.

To determine the awards, a panel of Tableau judges selected finalists using the following criteria: creativity, potential impact, design, and usability.

Judges’ Choice Awards

Up first were the Judges’ Choice Awards for great and notable hacks that didn’t make the top three. Based on cheering from the crowd, we’d select among the top three projects to award the Best Hack in the Known Universe.

The Fighter: The first Judges’ Award, called the Fighter, went to Yuan Jiang, Ben Langsam, and Mary Ritchter for the Expedia Rate Scraper. Anyone who’s gone through the tedious process of copying data from tables on a web page will love this project. It uses Python to screen-scrape car rental rates from Expedia.com then converts it to a Tableau Data Extract (TDE) file. Connect to the TDE in Tableau Desktop and you’re on your way to quickly finding the best car rental rates.

The Slam Dunk: Jonathan Schmiel won the second award, the Slam Dunk, with his project that uses one of the sample data sources provided with Tableau along with the Tableau Web Data Connector. The resulting combo lets users instantly search and connect to key health statistics provided by the World Health Organization.

The Team Award: For their highly collaborative style and impressive whiteboarding skills, the IT Turtles received the Team award. Olga Prilepova, Clark Jen, and Donahue Sean developed an at-a-glance Help Desk dashboard that uses PUSH to inject new help desk data directly into a TDE, creating a smooth, real-time view of emerging Help Desk tasks and issues.

The Powerlifter: A great hackathon brings out epic efforts. For this, Tableau has a special Judges’ Award: The Powerlifter.

As Ben explained, “You know it’s a real hackathon when one of two things happens: Someone brings a soldering iron, or someone pulls out a display bigger than 24 inches. Ryan Kluck pulled out two such displays.”

Ryan and his hackathon partner Matthew Greenslet developed a web app that leverages an XML hack to give viz authors a one-size-fits-all workbook that uses calculated measures.

The finalists

TabSearch: First up was Craig Bloodworth’s TabSearch project. This time-saving hack lets you quickly sign in and search views and data sources on Tableau Server with just one tap.

But wait, there’s more! In a second surge of developer mightiness, Craig added functionality that instantly exports your Tableau Server search results to a TDE and pulls it into Tableau Desktop where, BAM! You can perform rapid analysis. To create his project, Craig used the Tableau REST API and even reverse-engineered some internal Tableau protocols.

Tableau Server Automation Rig: The Tableau Server Automation Rig project developed by Chris Toomey, Alex Duke, and Divya Mahajan was next. It uses the Tableau REST API, among others, to deliver an automation platform for Tableau Server admins that can run in the cloud or on premises.

Wordsmith Voice-Assisted Analytics: To describe the last finalist: Imagine you could control Tableau with just your voice and use it to hear a live analysis of the incoming data in your dashboard. The Wordsmith Voice-Assisted Analytics project does just that.

Developed by Adam Smith, Adam Long, and John Hegele, this stellar hack uses Amazon’s Echo Dot and Wordsmith natural language generation in combination with live polling data and a Tableau dashboard.

And the winner is...

Using cheering, we had to vote for the Best Hack in the Known Universe, choosing from three very creative and impactful hacks: TabSearch, Tableau Server Automation Rig, and the Wordsmith Voice-Assisted Analytics project. A cacophony ensued, but at the end, ears-ringing, we had landed on the winner.

And the winner? The Wordsmith project! Congratulations to the winners!

Inspired to create your own extensions and mashups? Check out our Developer Portal, our one-stop shop for everything related to APIs, the Web Data Connector, and the Tableau SDK.

*The number may or may not be exaggerated.

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