Honestly speaking, developers are very proud people. Yes, they are!
Everyone who has written the “Hello, World!” thinks they are good at what they do. Everyone who works with HTML, WordPress or Java thinks they are truly a gift to the development field. But, when it comes to determining the best of the best developers, the developer contest is the only possible way of knowing. Why are these coding competitions the only possible way? Well, because there are no ways to understand who is the best — the size of the company isn’t important, because good developers can work equally well in Microsoft/Google or in a small office with no windows (well, this is a slight exaggeration, but we hope you get the point). The annual salary isn’t the way, either— making a profit is not always the primary goal of a developer, and some programming languages are simply not very profitable. Those who program in C# earn on average $18,000 less than those who work with Node.js, but who is to say which group of developers is smarter and better at all?
And here the software development contests and challenges come. The best software developers (or at least those who claim to be the best) can see whether they are as good as they think they are, prove their skills at programming and show their development talent during these competitions, and that’s why we have written this text — in order to describe the top 10 of such contests. We hope that it will be useful either for those who want to try their hands at competing with other developers, or for those who just want to find something interesting to read.
Talking about coding competitions, the most important thing to be said is that they all differ from one another in various ways. The two main differences are:
The age of the participants. Some of the competitions are open to everyone, whilst some are just for students. There are such big competitions as Hardcode, the USA Computing Olympiad and ACM’s ICPC among the latter. We should point out that the last abbreviation stands for the International Collegiate Programming Contest, and it’s one of the biggest competitions in the world. We’ll tell you about all of them a little bit later.
The tools and languages allowed. At some of the competitions you are allowed to choose from a list of languages, while at others you can only useisprohibited a different the one chosen by the administration.
Prizes! Some of the contests will give you nothing but a huge dose of satisfaction. Some other competitions will give you money for the top places. But, well, a cash prize isn’t always the best prize, because the top companies of the IT-sphere keep a close watch on the winners of such contests. Don’t believe me? Try answering this question in all sincerity: what is better for you — to get $15,000 at once or to get a job offer from Google or Microsoft? We are also sure that winning such a contest would really boost your CV, so competitions with non-financial prizes are arguably just as good as the ones with the financial rewardsw Wouldn’t you agree?
So now let’s proceed to the main topic. Here we have listed 10 of the competitions that you should take part in without a doubt. Remember, that the list is not exhaustive and there are hundreds of other good and reliable contests on the Internet.
The first one we’d like to tell you about is ACM-ICPC. Looks like an alphabet soup, doesn’t it? But this abbreviation means the “International Collegiate Programming Contest”, and it’s one of the oldest and biggest competitions in our list. It is sponsored by IBM, a company that needs no introduction. The final prizes are $15,000 (the champion team gets this prize), $7,500 (three gold medal teams get it), $6,000 (the prize for a silver medal teams) and $3,000 for the bronze medal winners. It’s very important to note that you can’t take part in these competitions if you’re not a student or if you’re not part of a team.
The USA Computing Olympiad is another big competition for the American students. If you take part in it, you can choose among C, C++, Python, Pascal and Java. The winners are invited to a summer camp, and the best 4 students are capped for the USA at the International Olympiad. So if you are an American student and if you’re good at online programming, you have a reasonable chance of success.
Do you want to get a new iMac or iPad? If you do, you can take part in the OnTime API App contest and win one of these devices. It’s a competition organized by vendor (Agile), and the goal of such competitions is to help independent software vendors to create a piece of software that would find markets. Definitely a good cause!
TopCoder competitions are popular, too. These contests are held two times a week, and if you are good in Java, C# or C++, you may want to have a try. Due to the contest frequency, the prizes are not too big — you can get $25 or $300 for winning different parts of the competition. There are more than 1,000,000 users on their website, and you can join them in a few clicks. Moreover, TopCoder is not just onlyabout the competition. It’s a huge team that even works on serious problems for NASA, and it’s really cool.
The fifth major contest is Google Code Jam. This contest is held every year, and the participants solve difficult algorithmic problems. What about the prizes? The winner can choose between $15,000 or a job offer from Google.
What about Hardcode? It’s funded by Google and the grand prize is $14,000. If you are a student who is good at developing applications, you can try and win this, but make sure you put a team together before you enter.
If you don’t want to travel (Google Code Jam is held in Singapore, for example), you can try your hand at the online competitions, such as CodeChef. It’s an Indian website, and unlike others, its main goal is to help the beginners. No prizes, but plenty of good will.
HackerRank is also an online contest. You can choose from different languages and potentially win an iPad and a job offer from Facebook. Sounds good, and it really works.
Microsoft Imagine Cup is a contest for software developers, game designers and mobile developers. It has been held for the past 13 years, and it’s for students only. No cash prizes.
And the last (but not the least, of course) is BitWise. It’s an Indian website, but you can take part in the competition from anywhere in the world. This contest is held by one of the world’s best engineering colleges, II Kharagpur. The top prize is only about $1,000, but just imagine winning against more than 5,000 teams. What a feeling!