Rails Rumble

2009 Rails Rumble Reflections

Note: if you are looking for the screen casts, you can find them here: http://screenr.com/user/smeade

That 48 hours went fast!  After producing BidBuildBill.com last year and finishing a respectful #22 on the leaderboard, I aimed this year’s entry at web application developers with AffiliApp, the easiest way to add an affiliate program to your web app.


The Idea

This idea came out my unsuccessful experience looking for a good affiliate program to use in promoting PlaybookIQ.  After finding none that felt right, I decided to design and develop affiliate features myself.  I could have simply added the affiliate management features to my existing app, but with Rails Rumble right around the corner and with the idea that it could be useful to lots of web app owners, I decided to develop affiliate management as a separate project which we now know as AffiliApp, my Rails Rumble 2009 entry.

My Reflections and Impressions of the Rumble

What Went Right
Rails Rumble Organizers and Linode
The organization and planning this year was top notch. The entire Rails Rumble org did a great job. Linodes booted up straight away. The Rumble team was always present on irc and Tender app to answer any questions and clarify rules. They gave plenty of advanced warning on how they see the administrative parts of the Rumble playing out. Much appreciated.

Picked a Good Idea
I was glad to have some idea of what I was going to do ahead of the Rumble. As I discussed in previous blog posts (see links at bottom), the idea I had is something that I am going to use in Real Life. I think it has value for others as well and plan to continue to build it out.

Ensured a Good Development Environment
I was also glad to have done Rails deployments to Linode previously. Though deploying is very easy, I am not a sys-admin. So, I practiced ahead of time with a Linode slice an my GitHub account. This way I knew exactly how to boot and how to configure the linode and ensured my local environment was cap and deprec ready. Recommendation to all contestants: if you have not deployed a Rails app to a VPS before, do so as practice before the competition or have a team member that has. This will help get your local and VPS environment issues out of the way early.

What Could Have Gone Better
Get More Rest
At some point of the weekend, I believe it was SuttoL who said “A tired programmer is a dumb programmer”. So true. Rest up for this, you’ll need it. And take some breaks during the competition as well.

Scope Down
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I had already cut my feature list in half, then in half again. I should have cut it in half and half even again. I am very happy with how the app turned out, so it’s not that. It’s just that with a much smaller feature list, I simply would have had less stress and felt less rushed, which would result in little higher touches of quality throughout the app.

Design First
I did not take much time before the Rumble to lay out the application design. Both UI and model designs were started just about when the opening bell rang Friday night. Note for next year: go into it with a clear definition of the app design. Again, I don’t think the app suffered for it. I do think it would have been a more fun experience had I walked into with design ideas in hand.

Will I Do it Again Next Year?
Definately, Yes! But, I think next year it would be fun to get a team together to Rumble. If anyone’s interested in joining a Denver area team for the next one, let me know.  In the meantime, I’ve got 48 hours of email, tweets, and TechCrunch to catch up with.  On second thought, no, I’m going to get away from the keyboard now and hang out with the family instead!


Pre-Rumble Blog Posts:
What Rails Rumble and TechStars Have in Common (Besides @andrewhyde)
My App Takes the Sleaze Off (subtitled: Getting Real with Rails Rumble)
Whats the Big Idea
Ready to Rumble

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