Has 2020 been an eventful year, do you think? It feels like a contradiction because, although many momentous things are happening, most of the expected events were postponed or outright cancelled.

From a strictly work point of view, missing out on the FME International User Conference is the biggest disappointment. Luckily it’s only postponed until 2021, but meeting our users is important, and losing any opportunity to engage in person really hurts.

At the same time, we’ve all been through various levels of personal lockdown and quarantine. We’ve missed out on important family events, lost touch with friends, socialized less, and worked in isolation from colleagues. 

The common factor, you might say, is a loss of connection between us all; and we’re determined to do something about it.


The FME Hackathon 2020

What we’re planning is a grand, online FME Hackathon. A hackathon – if you’re unfamiliar with the term – is an event where users join forces to work on projects you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

“But wait,” you say. “How did we jump from isolation and quarantine to an FME hackathon?” 

Well, a hackathon (or FME Idol in previous years) is one of the most social events at an FME User Conference. It’s a relaxing way to meet fellow users, show off some of your skills, and work as a team on an interesting project. It’s really all about making new connections while learning.

So although we can’t host a full FME User Conference this year, we can deliver some of the magic and socializing in the form of the hackathon. It’ll be fun and help to keep our FME community members in touch.

Plus the hackathon has a related theme too…



The theme of the hackathon is “connections.” Why connections? Well, it’s our attempt to try and repair and replace some of the lost relationships that we’ve all experienced.

So what we’d like to see are projects that make or examine connections. What do we mean exactly? Well, you may interpret this however you like. One solid example is Jen’s FME Server-powered virtual coffee sessions, but don’t get too hung up on that concept. You might also consider:

There are lots of ways you can interpret the theme and the only requirement is that you must use FME for some part of the project.

And speaking of connections…



We’re hoping that our users will first take the idea of connections to heart by working together in a team; and all the better if you form a team outside your usual network of colleagues, as you would at the UC hackathon.

We’ve made a thread on the FME Community just for chatting and forming teams. But you will sign up for the hackathon individually (that’s important, as you’ll see below) and in fact, we’re letting you submit two projects: one project as an individual and a second project as the member of a team.

Once all projects are submitted, we’ll present them in a webinar and decide on a winner.


Winners and Prizes

We’re actually planning two awards; one chosen by our FME users, and one chosen by Safe Software staff. 

As for prizes, we thought long and hard about what would be appropriate and struggled to find something that could be shared by a team of users potentially spread over different continents. 

So what we decided is to make charitable donations on your behalf, as follows:

Of course, we will ensure that the winners have some personal reward, and are busy designing custom swag items that we can send out to you as well.



When does the hackathon take place?

 The official start date is the 4th of August. The final day for submissions is the 31st of August.

Nearly a month? What size of projects are you expecting?!

Not that big! We’re just setting aside a month because we know that there will be family vacations and other commitments that you won’t want to interrupt.

Does my project have to be on the theme of connections?

No, you can submit a project of any kind. However, the judges are likely to award higher marks to projects that stick to the theme.

What is the maximum number of team members?

Four (4).

How do I register?

You register through our awesome, FME-powered, registration form at http://fme.ly/register2020. Remember, you should register individually (even if you are part of a team) because we’ll be making an individual donation on your behalf.

 How do I submit a project?

Projects can be submitted online at http://fme.ly/submit2020. We’re going to present the submitted projects during a webinar in September, so you may want to submit a video demonstration or set of slides so that we can all understand the aim of the project without diving into the workspaces.

Can I get a separate FME license to work on my project?

Of course, our home licensing program is happy to provide you with a non-business license.

Can I make a donation to the World Federation of Mental Health too?

What a great idea! There’s no requirement for you to do so, but the gesture would be very welcome.

About FME Hackathon

Mark Ireland

Mark, aka iMark, is the FME Evangelist (est. 2004) and has a passion for FME Training. He likes being able to help people understand and use technology in new and interesting ways. One of his other passions is football (aka. Soccer). He likes both technology and soccer so much that he wrote an article about the two together! Who would’ve thought? (Answer: iMark)


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