"Team Providence" gunning for the Rails Rumble Championship Belt with twalala
By Jack Templin
The weekend of October 18th-19th saw the coming and going of this year's Rails Rumble. The annual event brings together developers from around the world and tasks them with creating a web application using Ruby on Rails within a 48-hour timeframe. This year's competition drew 244 teams including (at least) one team from right here in Providence.
Teams had from Midnight (00:00 GMT) on October 18th, 2008 to Midnight (23:59 GMT) on October 19th, 2008 to design, code and deploy their app. Teams of one to four people were allowed to conceptualize their ideas prior to that time, but no "digital assets" were to be created before the start of the competition.
The local team was made up of RI Nexus/Providence Geeks regulars: Steve Babigian, Matt Gillooly, TJ Sondermann and Alex Taylor. They built an app called twalala, a fully functional Twitter client that distinguishes itself from the the crowd by allowing users to focus their twitterstream by muting individuals and/or filtering terms via keyword. If you're not familiar with Twitter, take a look at the twalala development blog for additional information. The initial feedback for twalala has been extremely positive (check out fellow community member Adam Darowski's review) and the team plans on forging ahead with a new release once the competition is over.
Once the complete list of all the Rails Rumble apps has been announced (two partial lists are available) the voting phase will begin. Voting is open to anyone (meaning you all should vote to support your local team!) and is based on "visible merits; in particular: completeness, user interface, originality, usefulness and overall design."
What do these teams stand to gain from devoting 48 hours of their lives to the development of a single application? Well aside from the glory and admiration of their peers, sponsorship prizes abound. The first place team even gets an honest to goodness Rails Rumble Championship Belt. And who knows? Maybe they'll get some angel funding.
While fame and fortune would be nice, that's not the only reason the team did it. Team member Steve Babigian said, "We really just wanted to work together as a team, have fun, learn something, and create a cool app. Working with people I don't typically work with on a daily basis was great and they're really smart and talented guys. We've been extremely excited by the kudos the app has already received both locally and on the web. If you have the time, you should take part in these types of competitions, they're really rewarding."
If you're interested in participating in next year's Rumble, similar competitions, or just want to hook up and code something cool with like-minded peers, be sure to ask around at RI Nexus and Providence Geeks, and stock up on Red Bull.
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