Hackathon Glossary


Also known as Hack Day, Hack Fest, Code Fest.
Hackathons are design and code competitions with a clear task / problem to solve in a limited time frame and within a interdisciplinary team of developers and designers, sometimes even marketers. Hack challenges usually focus on real life problems in new and emerging fields that require unconventional and creative solutions. Often sponsored by companies and organizations which also provide prizes for the winning teams. The goal of hackathons is to quickly realize working prototypes from scratch within a challenging environment.

IDE - Integrated Development Environment

A specialized software application that features different tools and features to make coding and developing software easier. Depending on programming language and IDE, various assistance in form of code editor, auto completion, compiler/interpreter and debugger can be included in an IDE. Examples include Google’s Android Studio for Android development (Java and XML) or Microsoft’s Visual Studio (C#, C++, C, …).

IOT - Internet of Things

Internet of Things is a trend to connect everyday (dumb) items to the internet in order to share information about themselves. It opens up new possibilities of smart homes and environments in which data is automatically captured, measured, transferred and analysed by software. It heavily relies on sensor and communication technologies like RFID and NFC

Material Design

Google’s design language prominently used on official Google websites and Google’s mobile operating system Android. Features different style elements and guidelines on how to use them. Material design’s aim is to make the app ecosphere easy to understand and consistent. Material Design is a variation and implementation of Flat Design

NFC - Near Field Communication

NFC is a communication protocol that makes it possible for two (portable) devices to wirelessly communicate with each other. To establish a connection, both participants have to be within 4 cm. The technology is included in many smartphones and is used for services like Apple Pay that enable users to transfer money to the cash point device.

API - Application Programming Interface

A software interface to standardize data exchange, making communication between different parts of a given software easier. It specifies how component interact with each other and offers blocks of code that can be used in various applications and for different purposes. Large websites and software often offer an API for external developers and third party services that further improve functionality of the original website.

Agile Development

Project management technique and set of principles that rely on adapting to stakeholder’s needs as they change and evolve during the (software) development process. In contrast to the classic Waterfall model which states requirements and features up front and then develops without further interference until the initial product is finished. Widespread agile development model Scrum incorporated (short) development cycles called sprints and various meetings between developers, stakeholders and product owners to communicate changing needs and wants as soon as possible.

Flat Design

A minimalistic design language, commonly seen throughout modern computer and smartphone interfaces. It uses as less distractions as possible to achieve clarity and ease-of-use. Since its beginnings in the early 2000s, usage and adaption grew rapidly and flat design in its various variations (see for example Material Design, Apple’s iOS Guidelines or Windows Grid Design) is now the most dominant design style, especially in digital media. Before the rise of flat design, Skeuomorphism dominated the software design and relied on a more literal translation of real life objects, their coloring and shading into graphical elements.

Club Mate

A beverage made from maté-extract and produced by a German brewery. Given his high caffeine but low sugar content it established itself as an healthier alternative to more widespread energy drinks that contain high levels of sugar and synthetic ingredients. Club-Mate is now one of the most popular beverages for hackers, hipsters and digital natives in Berlin.

RFID - Radios-Frequency Identification

RFID is a technology that uses electromagnetic fields to track and identify objects it is attached to. It comes as small chips called tags or labels and can be embedded into objects to store information in them and be able to identify them without line-of-sight.


Design language largely used before the rise of Flat Design in modern software and interface design. The style emulated real life materials and their corresponding attributes and textures. It also relied - in comparison to Flat Design - on more realistic shading and lighting which aimed on helping the user recognize design elements more easily.


Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for programmers and developers. It’s aim is to provide easy and fast answers to precise problems that occur while coding. All content is provided by the site’s users who may vote for or against a particular answer depending on how useful it is.


In general the degree to which a software or object is easy to use and understand by its users. Usability of software is defined as how effective (Can you reach your goal?), efficient (Can you reach it in time?) and satisfactorily a software can be used by a user in a distinctly specified context. Usability is one part of the overall User Experience

User Experience

The overall experience a user faces while using a product or software. It includes both hard factors like being able to reach a goal at all as well as psychological factors like the user’s perception and subjective satisfaction. User experience is not restricted on actual use (as is the subcategory Usability) but may also include anticipated feelings and lasting impressions. The still evolving, professional field of User Experience Design consists of various roles from user and context researcher to information architects and visual designers

Venture Capital

Private investors and specialized companies that invest in small, early-stage start-ups which promise high-level growth and high company value in the future. Venture capital usually provides cash / financial support and business consultancy in exchange to equity of the invested companies. Many of the world’s most famous venture capital firms are located in California’s Silicon Valley.