I’ve been a member of the Topcoder developer community for nearly 6 years and it’s a daily ritual for me. Every time I open the Topcoder site, a few staggering numbers on the dashboard stand out. For example, the figures I see today
- More than a million active members
- Large number of challenges running in parallel
- Lots of prize money on offer
It also reminds me of my journey at Topcoder over the last 6 years. As a newbie, I was unsure about what the various development tracks meant, the associated rules, and where should I start. Though Topcoder provided a number of resources to get started, the thought of competing against some of the world’s best developers was definitely intimidating and scary.
While there are plenty of resources for new members (and literally no entry barrier), I still think some informal education on the various tracks will be a good help. The 3 primary tracks for developers are:
This is the most popular development track with maximum number of challenges running at any point of time. The technologies are varied ranging from AngularJS, Node.js, Java, iOS, Android, Python, and several others.
Each challenge goes through the following phases
- Registration – You can register for the challenge
- Submission – You can submit an entry for the challenge
- Review – Reviewers review all submissions on a challenge
- Appeals – Review ends, submitters can appeal on scorecards as needed
- Appeals Response – Reviewers respond to appeals, winner chosen
For more detailed information about these phases click here.
The winner is chosen based on the highest aggregate score from the reviewers. In case there’s a tie on scores, the submission time (earlier first) is used as the tie breaker.
The average duration for a code challenge is 5-7 working days spanning across the mentioned phases. There are some quick challenges which get closed out in 3-4 days and some challenges run longer in case the requirements/ setup requirements are complex.
The ‘Code’ track is the best place to start at Topcoder for new members. If you submit for a couple of challenges, you get a good feel of how the process works and from there on, it’s all about learning and improving your submissions on an ongoing basis.
As the name itself suggests, this track is all about speed. Once the submission phase opens, the first submission to fulfill all requirements is declared as the winner. These are usually very quick and most F2F challenges wrap up in 24 to 36 hours of being launched.
As the name itself suggests, this track is all about assembling the various components to build a solution. Most assembly challenges focus on either building a backend (based on a provided architecture) or a frontend (based on a provided prototype) or integrating the backend & frontend together.
My suggestion would be to start competing on the Assembly track once you’re familiar and confident with the Code track.
The best part – the time to be a newbie on Topcoder is NOW! For the first time ever, Topcoder has introduced a newbie tournament where newbies get a shot at winning a TCO finals trip. It does not matter when you start, all that matters is how hard you’re prepared to work and how much you learn for your chance to make that once in a lifetime TCO trip experience!