Mendeley Sponsors a Hackathon.

Major league is an American concept and something that, according to Google, relates to professional sport.

So we weren’t too sure what to expect when we received an email from “Tim Fogarty – UK Commissioner at Major League Hacking “. What the hell?

Major League Hacking was created with a mission to:

“Major League Hacking’s mission is to spread the hacker ethos to every student on the planet; to cultivate communities where aspiring hackers have the opportunity to learn, build, and share their creations with the world.”

Every semester they run over 60 hackathons worldwide in the US, Canada, Mexico and now they can add the UK feather to their cap. This is a league and universities earn points for the number of students they send to a hackathon, those with the most points wins.

Mendeley was happy to sponsor the first UK event which was held in the Bloomberg Offices here in London. The event itself consisted of about 200 students from universities around the UK. Such a diverse bunch. We even had some students under the age of 16! The event kicked off early on Saturday morning with pitches from all sponsors. Each sponsor had 5 minutes to describe their product and set their challenge.  The challenge that we set out for the students was the “best use of the API”. As this was our first sponsorship of a hackathon then we were not so sure as to the uptake but we were surprised that we had 4 teams try and build using the Mendeley API.

So, why did we attend? As a company who has monthly hackathons then this was right up our street of continuous learning. It’s not about getting teams to use the Mendeley API, it’s an opportunity to meet and mentor passionate students in building innovative cool stuff. And they did not fail to innovate. We were blown away by what we seen. The full list of projects are described here but alas there can only be one winner.

The application that we decided to nominate as the winner was developed by Oxford students Taimur Abdaal and his 2 friends Lukas Koebis and Joshua Hannah.  They built an application that generates an interactive graph of collaborators based on an author search using first name only. The backend as built in Python, and the frontend using normal HTML5 and CSS3 with jQuery and d3.js.  Here are some screen shots.

Note: Click on the images for larger versions.


Landing Page – Paul Erdős



Collaborators of Kris


This is a lovely example of building something fun and interactive using our API. To figure out an author’s collaborators they used our catalog search endpoint with the ‘author’ query parameter set to ‘kris’ e.g.

If you click on the nodes in the graph it then performs another author search using our catalog search.

The guys from Oxford have set a high bar for future hackers and we can’t wait to see what the next bunch do with our API.

If you have any hacks to share with us then we would love to see what you have done using our API. Get in touch


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About Joyce-Stack - Developer Outreach

Joyce Stack completed a BSc. (Hons) Computer Science from The Open University while working in a startup in Co. Cork, Ireland. She moved to London in 2005 to join one of the City’s leading exponents of agile techniques at that time to work as a Java Developer. She is now working in the Developer Outreach role in Mendeley where her responsibilities are to meet and educate developers about the Mendeley API, attend conferences, meetups and hackathons and basically be the face of the API. She is passionate about providing an excellent developer experience and APIs. She likes biking, swimming and yoga but she hates potatoes despite being Irish.