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What is a hackathon?

In the context of ImageJ, a hackathon is a coding spree, or if you want, a one or two-week brainstorm session where scientists with programming skills sit together and work in a low-distraction, high-energy environment to advance the software side of their research. Typically, results get accomplished much faster (read: days instead of weeks or months) than without hackathons, because the setting is ideal to discuss advanced ideas with similar-thinking scientists and ideas can sprout much faster. Sometimes, results are achieved that would not have been possible without a hackathon at all.

The "hackathon effect" in effect!


First and foremost, hackathons are fun. The participants like what they are working on, and rarely have the same opportunities to talk to and inspire each other about their ongoing research.

Also, hackathons are the perfect excuse to concentrate on a particular subject without distractions. A lot gets done at a hackathon (see right!).

Origin of the term hackathon

The term comes from the original meaning of hack, i.e. a clever and unforeseen way to use or improve a technical system.

It is not clear whether Sun's marketing team or OpenBSD were first, combining the words hack and marathon to form hackathon.

Ever since, OpenBSD held annual hackathons during which OpenBSD was improved in leaps and bounds.

In 2007, the first hackathon revolving around neuro-science was taking place at HHMI Janelia Research Campus. In a sense, it can be seen as the first Fiji hackathon, since Fiji was born in the wake of that hackathon, and probably would not have happened without it.

ImageJ hackathons

ImageJ has benefitted from many hackathons over the years:

ImageJ Hackathons
When Where Who Topic
2007 Summer HHMI Janelia
Ashburn, VA, USA
Albert Cardona, Benjamin Schmid, Greg Jefferis, Hanchuan Peng, Johannes Schindelin, Mark Hiner, Stephan Preibisch, Stephan Saalfeld, Wayne Rasband, Arnim Jenett, Julie Simpson, Torsten Rohlfing, Yuriy Mishchenko Neuroscience
2008 Apr 21 -
2008 Apr 30
Dresden, Germany
Albert Cardona, Benjamin Schmid, Cornelius Sicker, Dan White, Erwin Frise, Jean-Yves Tinevez, Johannes Schindelin, Mark Hiner, Stephan Preibisch, Stephan Saalfeld, Pavel Tomancak Fiji
2008 Dec 8 -
2008 Dec 13
Zürich, Switzerland
? Fiji
2009 Mar 23 -
2009 Apr 03
Dresden, Germany
Johannes Schindelin, Albert Cardona, Jean-Yves Tinevez, Benjamin Schmid, Ignacio Arganda-Carreras, Dan White, Mark Hiner, Pavel Tomancak, Stephan Preibisch, Stephan Saalfeld, Raju Tomer, Misha Kudryashev Segmentation
2010 Mar 14 -
2010 Mar 27
Heidelberg, Germany
Albert Cardona, Stephan Saalfeld, Benjamin Schmid, Kota Miura, Curtis Rueden, Johannes Schindelin, Ignacio Arganda-Carreras, Larry Lindsey, Mark Hiner, Stephan Preibisch, Grant Harris, Verena Kaynig Fiji
2010 Oct 12 -
2010 Oct 23
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Berkeley CA, USA
Erwin Frise, Johannes Schindelin Running Micro-Manager inside Fiji
2011 Jan 27 -
2011 Feb 13
Madison, WI, USA
Ignacio Arganda-Carreras, Paul Barber, Albert Cardona, Barry DeZonia, Arthur Edelstein, Adam Fraser, Erwin Frise, Aivar Grislis, Grant Harris, Mark Hiner, Luis Ibanez, Lee Kamentsky, Larry Lindsey, Melissa Linkert, Mark Hiner, Tobias Pietzsch, Stephan Preibisch, Curtis Rueden, Stephan Saalfeld, Johannes Schindelin, Benjamin Schmid, Pavel Tomancak, Kevin Eliceiri, Rick LeeKamentsky, Mark Rowley Multidimensional visualization
2011 Dec 9 -
2011 Dec 19
Dresden, Germany
Jean-Marie Burel, Stephane Dallongeville, Barry DeZonia, Christian Dietz, Michael Doube, Fabrice de Chaumont, Erwin Frise, Martin Horn, Dan White, Tom Kazimiers, Alexander Krull, Melissa Linkert, Mark Hiner, Josh Moore, Tobias Pietzsch, Stephan Preibisch, Curtis Rueden, Johannes Schindelin, Benjamin Schmid, Pavel Tomancak, Peter Gabriel Pitrone, Fernando Carrilo, Kevin Eliceiri, Jiri Matas, Jurgen Mayer Interoperability
2012 Oct Universität Konstanz
Konstanz, Germany
Martin Horn, Christian Dietz, Tobias Pietzsch, Johannes Schindelin KNIME+Fiji
2013 Jan 22 -
2013 Jan 25
Madison, WI, USA
Matt McCormick, Curtis Rueden, Johannes Schindelin, Mark Hiner SCIFIO ImageIO plugin
2013 Apr 14 -
2013 Apr 18
Madison, WI, USA
Ignacio Arganda-Carreras, Johannes Schindelin, Curtis Rueden Trainable Weka Segmentation
2013 Apr 27 -
2013 May 3
Madison, WI, USA
Stephan Preibisch, Tobias Pietzsch, Curtis Rueden, Johannes Schindelin, Barry DeZonia, Mark Hiner, Aivar Grislis ImgLib2
2013 Sep 9 -
2013 Sep 13
Institut Pasteur
Paris France
Tobias Pietzsch, Jean-Yves Tinevez MaMuT, BigDataViewer
2013 Nov 14 -
2013 Nov 27
Madison, WI, USA
Christian Dietz, Johannes Schindelin, Curtis Rueden KNIME+ImageJ
2014 Mar 4 -
2014 Mar 13
Universität Konstanz
Konstanz, Germany
Curtis Rueden, Johannes Schindelin, Christian Dietz, Martin Horn ImageJ Ops
2014 Mar 11 -
2014 Mar 13
Wiesbaden, Germany
Josh Moore, Curtis Rueden ImageJ-OMERO
2014 Mar 20 -
2014 Mar 21
Madison, WI, USA
Jean-Marie Burel, Peter Walczysko, Curtis Rueden ImageJ-OMERO
2014 Jul 7 -
2014 Jul 10
Madison, WI, USA
Mark Tsuchida, Chris Weisiger, Johannes Schindelin, Luke Stuyvenberg, Curtis Rueden, Mark Hiner Micro-Manager and OpenSPIM
2014 Sep 14 -
2014 Sep 18
Madison, WI, USA
Christian Dietz, Brian Northan, Mark Hiner, Curtis Rueden, Aparna Pal, Yuming Liu, Alison Walter, Ginger Pocock ImageJ Ops + KNIME
2014 Oct 13 -
2014 Oct 17
Madison, WI, USA
Tobias Pietzsch, Stephan Preibisch, Stephan Saalfeld, Johannes Schindelin, Curtis Rueden, Mark Hiner ImgLib2
2015 Jan 19 -
2015 Jan 27
Konstanz, Germany
Christian Dietz, Curtis Rueden, Mark Hiner, Lee Kamentsky, Tobias Pietzsch, Florian Jug, Johannes Schindelin, Ignacio Arganda-Carreras, Gabriel Einsdorf, Daniel Seebacher, Kevin Mader, Andreas Graumann, Jonathan Hale, Tim-Oliver Buchholz, Patrick Winter, Andreas Burger, Tobias Kötter ImageJ Ops + KNIME + CellProfiler + more
2015 Apr 12 -
2015 Apr 17
HHMI Janelia
Ashburn, VA, USA
Stephan Preibisch, Tobias Pietzsch, Stephan Saalfeld, Pavel Tomancak Multiview-Reconstruction and BigDataViewer
2015 June 29 -
2015 July 3
Berlin, Germany
Stephan Preibisch, Christian Dietz, Mario Emmenlauer, Stephan Janosch Parallelization of Multiview-Reconstruction and integration with ImageJ Ops & KNIME
2015 Jul 27 -
2015 Jul 31
HHMI Janelia
Ashburn, VA, USA
Stephan Saalfeld, Curtis Rueden, Mark Hiner, Tobias Pietzsch, Tom Kazimiers, Burkhard Höckendorf, Fernando Amat, Phillip Keller SCIFIO performance and generality
2015 Sep 05 -
2015 Sep 15
Madison, WI, USA
Curtis Rueden, Mark Hiner, Christian Dietz, Tobias Pietzsch, Stephan Saalfeld, Brian Northan, Florian Jug, Tiago Ferreira, Matt McCormick, Jay Warrick, Jan Brocher, Ellen Arena, Alison Walter, Yuming Liu, Guneet Singh Mehta, Amitabh Verma ImageJ2 Learnathon + ImageJ OPS

As you can see, in recent years ImageJ has trended toward smaller, more targeted hackathons, as we find them very focused!