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Appathon: Engaging the IBM XPages and Connections Development Communities

I am always thinking of ways that we, the IBM Notes and Domino Application Development Community, can engage developers both within our community and -- most importantly for the long-term success of IBM Notes and Domino as an application platform -- beyond the existing community. is apparently not only always thinking, but always doing as they just announced their latest sponsored XPages and Connections development contests.

Go to to get all of the details about both contests... but let's highlight the XPages Development Contest (which can be found at


All types of OpenNTF projects can be nominated that use XPages or OSGi. This includes the following areas:

  • XPages applications (NSFs)
  • XPages custom controls (in NSFs)
  • Custom XPages extension libraries
  • Custom OSGi bundles for IBM Domino
  • DOTS tasklets

Implementation: Participants can choose how to implement their projects. There are no prerequisites to use certain technologies other than that the projects need to work in/with XPages or OSGi on IBM Domino. All contributions need to work on IBM Lotus Domino 8.5.3 and/or IBM Domino 9.0. They can also require the latest XPages Extension Library and DOTS release from OpenNTF.

I have a few things that have been simmering Custom Control and Application-wise that would be really cool to finally get out there... and let's be honest: the potential to win 1 of 5 $1000 prizes is certainly motivation!

Speaking of the prizes...

Awards and Recognition

All prizes will be cash prizes. Winners can decide whether they want to receive Amazon vouchers (US only) or whether they want to get paid via PayPal or check.

The five winners of this contest will receive $1000 each.

OpenNTF will also create videos and screenshots (if not done by contributors), blog about these controls and have them put on an OpenNTF web page as done for the previous contests.

OK, now let's talk about the judging criteria for this contest:


We'll use the following criteria when judging the contributions:

  1. Reusability, consumability and documentation
  2. "Wow" factor and completeness of solution
  3. Overall business value
  4. Amount of work to build the submission(s)

The judging will be done by OpenNTF again but we invite people from the community to participate in the judging. In that case they obviously cannot participate themselves and cannot judge submissions from colleagues in the same company.

... so why am I talking about this contest? I mean, outside of the fact that it's awesome and that I'm eager to crank out a few of my own contributions?

The Bigger Picture

Simply put, even if you never use one of the bound-to-be-amazing applications, custom controls, libraries, and more that'll result from this contest, you will benefit from this contest!

How?! OK, that part is simple:

  • Competition is a good thing...

    Competition breeds innovation, and truly innovative solutions inspire. You might not use the application, but if it gives you ideas or even expands your understanding of what the platform is capable of... the contest is an amazing success.

  • Since there's no marketplace...

    Since we don't have an App Store or a marketplace, it's difficult to incentivize weekend warrior developers to learn IBM Notes and Domino as an application development platform.

    Sure, it's a carrot being dangled out there... but sometimes that's what a developer needs.

  • Contributors will end up better developers...

    It's funny, and I'm certain all contributing developers to or content authors will agree: you don't want to look like a fool when you publish something. That's sometimes -- sadly -- enough demotivation to keep someone from contributing to the greater community, but for those of us who can't help it a rather interesting thing happens: we produce better end results when we know they'll be seen by others.

    The Applications submitted won't be your typical in-house RAD affairs, but hand-crafted works on art.

    The Custom Controls will be amazingly flexible and complete, and more than likely addressing some major we know it needs to be in the ExtLib and we'll get to it eventually gaps in our toolkit.

  • Demos, demos, and more demos...

    How often have you wanted to show someone at the office a concept or type of application that shows that IBM Notes and Domino is the application platform to address their given business need... but you can't find a decent demo? Quite frankly, we can't spend our days writing demo-ware to internally sell our go-to platform. One of the major benefits of these types of contests is that they can be used to seed a catalog of demos... and if you can use them, maybe we can get IBM Marketing and Sales to use them as well.

So even if you don't directly benefit via a Paypal deposit (or check or Amazon voucher) for $1000 via a win for your contribution, we all do.

For more information about this contest, check out!

About the author: Chris Toohey

Thought Leadership, Web & Mobile Application Development, Solutions Integration, Technical Writing & Mentoring

A published developer and webmaster of, Chris Toohey specializes in platform application development, solutions integration, and evangelism of platform capabilities and best practices.

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