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IETF 112 Hackathon: Continually making progress

  • Charles EckelIETF Hackathon Co-chair

22 Nov 2021

The IETF 112 Hackathon held 1 - 5 November 2021 was the 5th online-only IETF Hackathon. Our planning and procedures have improved with each iteration, as have the supporting tools and infrastructure, and the skill with which we use them.


As with IETF meetings and work on Internet standards in general, the IETF Hackathon is a collaborative event, not a competition, and free and open to anyone. Working together to find common understanding of proposals, concerns, and solutions that result in improvements to evolving Internet-Drafts (I-Ds) is as important as the development of code that implements or validates the correctness of the protocols these I-Ds define.

Participants with a wide range of interests and skillsets come together to advance the pace and relevance of new and evolving Internet standards. Many IETF Hackathon participants develop software, but subject matter experts who are not necessarily developers are valuable participants as well. While IETF Hackathons aim to attract newcomers and those who often do not view themselves as standards professionals, long-time IETF contributors, including authors of I-Ds, working group chairs and subject matter experts, are key participants as well. 

Making personal connections that bring together diverse skillsets and perspectives is an important aspect of IETF Hackathons. Running code created and improved at each Hackathon is valuable, but so are exchanging ideas, extending human networks, and building of new friendships, respect, and trust. These aspects of IETF Hackathons admittedly suffer with the shift to being held online, but various mechanisms exist and were used to facilitate collaboration within and across teams.

Collaborating Effectively in an Online Only Event

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, each IETF Hackathon was held in-person the weekend immediately before the corresponding IETF meeting. Remote participation has always been possible and valuable, but most participants did so in person, working side by side together in a large room for up to 14 hours on Saturday and another 8 hours on Sunday. This relatively intense format provided ample time and opportunity to across multiple teams and collaborate with people from different parts of the IETF community.

To accommodate the shift to an online event with participants spread across the globe and in vastly different time zones, we moved away from the weekend format and expanded the schedule to run the entire work week before the rest of the IETF meeting. Between the kickoff on Monday and the closing on Friday, individual project teams met how and when was most convenient for them. While still far from ideal, this flexible scheduling seems to work relatively well.

Projects and Highlights

In total, the IETF 112 Hackathon had 20 projects and over 200 registered participants. For the closing, more the half the teams produced and presented brief summaries of their findings and achievements. All the presentations are available via the IETF Hackathon GitHub repository, and a recording of the closing hackathon session is available as well. All teams did amazing work. Here are some examples:

The Benchmarking Methodology Working Group (bmwg) team focused on container networking performance impacts related to various resource options, as described in the Considerations for Benchmarking Network Performance in Containerized Infrastructures I-D .

IETF 112 Benchmarking Methodology Working Group

Key findings included observing that VPP outperformed OVS, and that the placement of the CNF with respect to the vSwitch impacted the performance. Placement in the same node improved performance in the case of OVS, whereas placing in different nodes improved performance in the case of VPP. These results will be provided as input to the Anuket project in the Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) community.

The IP Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (ipwave) team implemented the Context-Aware Navigator Protocol (CNP), as proposed by an I-D, together with Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology based on 3GPP standards. The team combined existing standards and draft proposals spanning IETF, W3C, and 3GPP

IETF 112 Hackathon IPWAVE

The WebRTC Ingest Signaling over HTTPS (wish) team performed interoperability tests across several client and server implementations of the proposed WebRTC-HTTP ingestion protocol (WHIP) specified in this working group I-D. The team identified various interoperability issues, fixed some of them during the Hackathon, and provided feedback into the working group to guide improvements in the protocol specification.

IETF 112 Hackathon: WISH

Another team worked on machine-readable documents and tools for authoring and processing IETF documents. This included work on inserting structured information into a document and generating parsers for protocol headers. 

IETF 112 Hackathon other project

More information on these and all the other projects, including links to the code, is available on the IETF Hackathon wiki.

Thanks to CNNIC

On behalf of everyone who participated, I would like to thank CNNIC for sponsoring the Hackathon. Many of our typical expenses were reduced or eliminated by not meeting in person, but development and hosting of new and improved tools to facilitate increased collaboration online resulted in new expenses elsewhere. We greatly appreciate this sponsorship and welcome and encourage additional sponsors. By sponsoring the Hackathon, you help ensure it remains a free event accessible to everyone. More information is available online at IETF Running Code Sponsors.

Special thanks to the IETF Secretariat, NOC, LLC, Tools Team, Meetecho, and Gather developers for all their efforts to make online IETF Hackathons possible and successful. 

Next Hackathon

The IETF 112 Hackathon proved once again that the IETF community can collaborate on running code and produce great results even when meeting online. However, as mentioned several times during the closing session, meeting online continues to fall short of replacing many key benefits of meeting in person. We hope to support participating in person at the IETF Hackathon again soon. IETF 113 will be 19 – 25 March 2022 and is currently expected to include in-person participation though the location is yet to be confirmed. Subscribe to the Hackathon email list to be sure you get all the latest information on IETF 113 Hackathon dates and participation options.

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