Open edX “Love for Docs” Hackathon, 10 - 12 Aug 2021!

At edX, a hackathon is time we set aside to build (still edX-related) things that interest us. This isn’t a stay-up-all-night, fierce competition. This is a time for everyone to get together, collaborate, and make some novel improvements to the platform. For the first time in a while, we are so pleased to be able to invite the whole Open edX community!

The theme for this hackathon is “Love For Documentation”. We want this hackathon to focus on improving our various forms of documentation - developer facing, user facing, inside or outside of the code. However the theme is just a suggestion-- the sky’s the limit for what your project is.

Thought starters: How can we think about consumers of our documentation first? What group of people will this project show love to - new developers? existing partners/course teams? learners trying to make sense of our platform? Documentation is everywhere, from our Read the Docs pages to docstrings in our code. Think big!

The hackathon will kick off Tuesday, 10 August around 1500 ET, however you are welcome to begin your hackathon project at whatever time makes sense for your timezone. We will be setting up a shared Slack channel, Gather space, pre-hackathon ideation sessions, and wiki pages so you can meet others with interest in your project, or join a project team. Stay tuned for more details!

The hackathon ends 12 August - we’ll be asking people who participate to post a ~1-2 minute video demo. Anyone who posts a demo will get a Hackathon participation badge! Additionally, we’ll be awarding prizes in a few categories to be determined; prize winners will receive a special forum badge, and potentially other prizes!

More details on hackathons at edX, including questions to spark a project idea:

More details on this hackathon:

Got an idea? Looking for a project?

Happy Hacking!


I can’t make it to the hackathon - I’m filming for at least 2 of those days - but I love the idea.

In general the docs for course developers are very good, on par with Excel’s. Unless there are more recent items that didn’t get their XML structure added to the docs, I think we’re fairly safe on that front. Most of the gaps I’ve seen are at the level of folks programming javascript in the platform. Here are a few questions that have been raised in the past at HarvardX:

  • What REST APIs that are available to people using javscript on course pages, and how do we get to them? For instance, could we pull a list of the other courses someone’s enrolled in?
  • What javascript objects are available on the page? For instance, I know there’s an Analytics object because I occasionally pull an ID number from it, but it’s not clear what else is inside it. Is there an object with the course structure? One with the user’s grades? With specific question responses?
  • Is there any way to consolidate responses at the edX Help Center? I remember some questions having multiple overlapping responses (and occasionally old out-of-date ones).
  • I know JQuery and Underscore are both available (or were the last I looked), and FontAwesme 4.7. What other javascript packages, fonts, etc. are delivered to the user by default?
  • What is the structure of the video controller object? I’ve hooked into it myself in the past, but it was some serious code archaeology, and making this easier would enable more people to build cool tools.

I’m not necessarily expecting any of these to be addressed, just providing some ideas for people who aren’t sure where to start on the project.



Won’t be able to make this either, but just to answer @colin.fredericks query about the video controller object- not sure if this helps, but as far as I can tell it is an object created by the youtube player api :

I use it to player.getSphericalProperties() to access a user’s the view orientation of a 360 video and it works, so that’s too specific in my book to be random?
I for one would love to have more information on how to log/access user information- i noticed from @colin.fredericks github page that there is a Logger.log() function that can be called to store objects, but I can’t find any documentation on how to access the stored data!

Update: See this blog post for more information!

@colin.fredericks @jrjdavidson I encourage you to add your ideas to the hackathon ideation page, even if you can’t make the hackathon.

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Update: We’ve got some badges!

Winner badge:

Participant badge:


Yay! Badges! Awesome!

Question: I see the only difference is the color? Is that the intention? Can these colors be differentiated by those who are color-blinded?

Idea: Put an additional mark on the winner badge.

The upcoming “Love for Docs” Hackathon, taking place August 10 – 12, is fast approaching! Before the hackathon, we’re delighted to announce that we’re hosting two Idea Jams, where you can connect with other Hackathon attendees and brainstorm ideas for Hackathon projects. Details:

  • Idea Jam 1: August 5 from 1600 – 1700 ET, hosted in
  • Idea Jam 2: August 9 from 0900 – 1000 ET, hosted in

Feel free to start brainstorming now and put your ideas in the Hackathon project ideas doc, or browse the doc for inspiration.

Finally, if you’re a first-time contributor to Open edX, we strongly encourage you to sign a CLA now, prior to the Hackathon. Our legal team can take a bit of time to process CLAs, and the sooner you sign the greater the chance you’ll be able to contribute unimpeded during the Hackathon.

– Hackathon Planning Committee

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The Hackathon was fun! :slight_smile: Thanks to all who took part!

We had a few dozen participants working on a bunch of different ideas.

Be sure to take a look at the final demo videos on the Submissions page, they are great examples of new energy focused on new ideas.

These hackathons are great ways to meet new collaborators, try out your ideas, and get something off the ground. Look for another hackathon early in the new year (if not earlier).

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