Netacea team wins Confluent’s Kafka Summit Hackathon

We are proud to announce that a Netacea team recently bested 128 other entrants to win the Kafka Summit Hackathon!

As part of the online summit, sponsors Confluent challenged teams from all over Europe to create an event streaming application with Confluent Cloud.

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The winning entry

Our clever team of “Netaceans” devised a tool called the Netacea Lumberer that generates and streams pseudo fake data to multiple sinks, including Kafka. It was developed in Python and packaged in a Docker container. Click here to take a closer look at the comprehensively documented open-source project on GitHub.

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Meet the team

Every successful team needs a diverse set of skills and experiences to succeed, whether this is in our day-to-day work – creating the most advanced bot management solution on the market – or taking part in a hackathon like the Kafka Summit.

Our prize-winning team, who had never worked together previously, unified members of the data science, development and platform teams, from senior to junior positions: Daniel Loader, Senior Platform Engineer with previous experience using Python CLI tools and Kafka; Rebecca Davey, Netacea’s Lead Data Scientist; Data Scientist Georgios Soteriou; and Junior Software Developer Hasib Ahmed.

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We caught up with the team to learn about their different perspectives on entering (and winning) the Kafka hackathon as well as working together for the first time.

What appeals to you about taking part in hackathons?

Daniel: Hackathons are great for giving you some time to take an idea to fruition quickly without the constraints of normal business practice. It is also nice to get focused time on one project with new people.

Georgios: The chance to put a big block of time to focus on a new cool technology or idea is appealing, plus working with new people you didn’t get the chance to work with before.

Rebecca: It was also a good chance to show the tech community what our engineering teams are capable of, and to focus solely on a single meaty problem for an extended period of time!

Hasib: For me, hackathons are a great place to learn new skills and have a new experience, and to show all you’ve learnt so far in your own software development journey.

Why this hackathon, how did the team come together and what roles did you all take on?

Rebecca: We’ve been investigating Confluent for a little while and saw this was part of their summit, which I know some of us were planning to attend anyway.

Hasib: For me, I’ve always wanted a chance to learn Kafka as my knowledge beforehand on it wasn’t much. Thankfully, my teammates had the same appetite to learn more about it!

Georgios: I was always fiddling around with Kafka, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore it more. Daniel did the heavy lifting since he had the most experience, which was great as he was able to help everyone to try out their ideas quickly, without wasting time being stuck by technical difficulties.

Daniel: As the member of the team with the most experience with developing against Kafka and creating CLI tooling in Python it was nice to be able to upskill others looking to gain more experience without the pressures of production release schedules. The freedom to do software architecture without too many competing requirements was a blessing too!

What did each of you enjoy most about the challenge and did you learn anything by doing it?

Rebecca: I enjoyed the focus on tooling and CLI development. It’s always very satisfying to make your own tools, and especially satisfying if you can put them to use soon and see the benefits. I learnt a lot and will be taking a lot of it forward into future projects.

Daniel: I think the best bit is to get something out the door. Software is only useful if it is released and being used so that was the best bit by far. While it was not really something new learned in this hackathon, it did reinforce my appreciation for good documentation and inspired the documentation we submitted. Without clear documentation and examples using the libraries we did, we would never have something completed in the timeframe we had.

Hasib: This is the first time an entry to a hackathon I’ve been a part of has also been open sourced, and in such a sleek package as a CLI application. I learnt a lot about the lower workings of Python and multi-threading to make our application as fast as possible… and of course a lot about Kafka!

Georgios: I was really amazed about how powerful Confluent is, in contrast to the pure Python library.

How did it feel to win? Which part are you most proud of?

Georgios: It was definitely a surprise to win. The whole tool is quite polished and it has some really cool features – I just didn’t know what to expect from other submissions.

Hasib: I’m most proud of learning a lot about the multi-threaded aspect of Python and how well the team collaborated considering we’ve not all worked together before. I’ll definitely be taking the lessons and skills learnt here and applying them to future works.

Rebecca: It felt good! The team put in a lot of work and it was nice to see it reflected. We had no idea how many entries there would be or what the quality level would be, so hadn’t set our ambitions too high. It was a nice surprise.

Daniel: It was unexpected to win, more so winning with a project originally only built for internal use – so we’re glad others can use it too. The pride comes from everyone pulling together on a tight schedule with competing priorities outside of the hackathon.

Celebrating success in our teams

Congratulations to Daniel, Rebecca, Georgios and Hasib on a fantastic showing for Netacea in the Kafka Summit Hackathon! You’ve all made us proud.

If you have the same attitude to learning as our team, you could be the next “Netacean”. Take a look at our careers page to see our current positions.