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PDF Liberation Hackathon

In partnership with, the leading on-line platform for non-profit fundraising, and the Sunlight Foundation, a major government transparency group, we will be sponsoring an event dedicated to hacking PDFs.

While Adobe's invention of the Portable Document Format was a great accomplishment, the technology has one unfortunate side effect:  data contained within PDFs is hard to extract and analyze without expensive specialized software. Since governments and other large organizations publish large quantities of data as PDFs, they are providing the appearance of transparency without all the benefits.

Our hackathon will be dedicated to finding new ways to streamline and improve the extraction of data from PDFs. Sponsors will provide specific challenges, including sample PDFs and desired output formats. Hackers, using their own tool or off-the-shelf technologies, will create software to extract the data and generate the specified output. Winning entries will receive cash prizes of up to $500. Teams are also welcome to bring or formulate their own challenges which will be judged for both creativity and quality of execution.

Hackers may participate in person or on line. Detailed specifications and a list of off-the-shelf tools will be listed on the hackathon resource page at The core locations will be Washington DC, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

Many thanks to for providing the San Francisco hack space!

In addition to RSVP'ing to the the Meetup, we request that you also sign up using this Google Form

For the announcement on the Sunlight Foundation blog please go to

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  • A former member
    A former member

    I don't expect to get there at all. I may have the flu. I intend to follow what's happening overf the long term, though.

    January 18, 2014

  • Marc J.

    Thanks again for signing up for this weekend's hackathon.

    We kick off Friday at 7pm with pizza, beer, soda, opening remarks and team formation.

    Any teams that want to submit a project for judging must do so by 12 noon on Sunday. To be considered, projects must be posted on GitHub. We will fork them into the PDF Liberation GitHub organization at

    RallyPad will be available and stocked with refreshments Friday evening, all day Saturday and on Sunday morning, but you can work from home if you prefer. We hope to have a Google Hangout with other locations Saturday at 10am. Also, you can use IRC #SunlightLabs on freenode to communicate with participants at other sites. This will be a good way to get technical assistance.

    Please send me an email message if you have any questions. Otherwise, I look forward to meeting everyone soon. Marc

    January 16, 2014

  • Marc J.

    Hackathon challenges are now available on the resource page at The hackathon kicks off at 7pm Friday with refreshments, socializing and pitching. Judging starts at Noon Sunday.

    January 14, 2014

  • Mike R.

    Hello Everyone! Looking forward to being at the SF event. We're excited to sponsor and are eager to see what everyone brings to the party.

    January 13, 2014

  • Marc J.

    Thanks again to everyone who has registered for the PDF Liberation Hackathon. We begin with a welcoming party, food, announcements and pitching this Friday at 7pm. More than 50 people have signed up across four Meetups and our Eventbrite page. Unfortunately, Meetup does not provide organizers with email addresses, so communicating with all registrants is difficult. To stay in the loop ahead of the hackathon, please sign up on Eventbrite at, complete our Google Form survey at or send your email address to marc[at]publicsectorcredit[dot]org.

    January 12, 2014

  • Marc J.

    Thanks to everyone who has RSVPed for this Meetup. If you haven't already done so, please complete the Google Form at Also, I have made further updates to the resource page at There is now a pretty comprehensive list of PDF Extraction tools on that page. If you are aware of others that I should list, please tell me.

    November 30, 2013

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