I finally made it through the rest of the Rails entries from the Rumble. In a previous post I published my favorites from the first half, but now that I’m done, I’ve picked my top ten, and I’m putting them all together here and listing some as Honorable Mentions.
The point of the Rumble, of course, is to show how much can be done in one weekend with the powerful web development framework, but too many of them seem to have taken the opposite approach and tried to see how little they could do in 48 hours. I’ve always felt this competition needs a ‘How much did you get done’ category, since I assume that was the point of the Rumble in the first place. Now it seems to be more about micro apps that could be built in 12 hours, which is safer, but less impressive regarding what Rails can do.
There were several concepts that I’d hoped I could put here but they didn’t deliver on their promise, maybe due to time, others due to poor execution. It happens, but I hope many of the ones I don’t list here continue to improve on their concept because I think they have potential. Others, sadly, seem to have hoodwinked users and are getting undue attention for a functionality that either doesn’t work at all, or does nothing more than a better, existing site has already provided for a long time. But, in the spirit of friendly competition, I’m not going to point out any sites I don’t like…at least until the competition is over.
All that said, there were some truly great entries that I believe should be the finalists. Note: I repeated my initial favorites from the first half so they are all on one page. I’ve thrown my own entry on here too to lay out my case for why I think it deserves attention. This is a solid top ten. Check them all out. They deserve it.
Provides a very simple, yet helpful community for your development project. I love the simplicity and was actually looking for something just like this last month. Great job to Thomas Mango.
This site is properly named because its full of awesomeness. Designers might not appreciate it, but its a fantastic service for those of us with less font selecting experience. It uses a WYSIWYG wizard to select the headline, body, sidebar, and mono text and then provides you with the cross-browser CSS you need to make it happen. No doubt I’ll be using this, a lot.
This looks very promising for Rails devs. I’ve been using services like Hoptoad or GetExceptional since they came out, and that’s great for errors, but it bugs me that I can’t send non-errors to those services. Logbook allows you to send any log messages to their online service. I would like to see them change the interface so I can do it with the traditional logger, but they say its on the horizon and I certainly understand the time constraints of the Rumble. I also would insist that they prove it won’t slow down my code and that the push of the messages to their services is multi-threaded and queued. I’m going to keep an eye on this one and if you are a Rails dev you should too.
This one is very similar to Let’sGiveThis. It also allows you to suggest gifts to purchased for the intended recipient, and like Let’sGiveThis then allows people from a group to commit to a portion of the target money to be raised for the gift. Nice design. Easy to use and figure out. Could come in handy.
Creates an online “newspaper” of your tweets. I love feedly (firefox plugin) and use it daily for all my RSS feeds. This is that idea but for links from Twitter. I think it needs designer work, but the concept is sound and useful. If it becomes as nice to use and visually pleasing as feedly, I’ll also use this daily. (This was one of the ideas on my list for this year).
Creates a pdf for you to download from any URL you enter. Needs a designer, but its functional and I could definitely see myself using this to grab quick PDFs to take with me to read offline on a device.
Collect money from a group to give a group gift. Nice design, easy to use. Quick to get started, and I could definitely see this being used.
Other than my own site, this one is my favorite so far. Beautifully designed and having worked in retail and dealt with workers and shifts, I can see an app that helps manage that online being hugely helpful, providing all your workers are on the Net. If not, this site might make it worth it to get them all on the net.
This allows you to use a QR code to allow others to donate to you. I know several not for profit people that could utilize this right away. The implementation of the concept is simple and effective. I actually tried it on my iPhone. Well done.
In case you don’t know, this one is from my team. CommendableKids.com allows parents, teachers, and anyone who cares about children, to register a child and begin awarding them badges for their hard work, milestones, skill developments and anything else you believe deserves commending. Then, you can invite family and friends to be a fan of the child, giving them high fives and leaving comments.
My goal was to provide a way to excite and encourage children to pursue milestones and skills, much like the Boyscouts have done for years, but in an expanded scope into homes, schools and other organizations. Since online and mobile “badges” have been working lately for adults as well, I thought combining the two, offline badges with online badges, could be very useful for anyone who wants to motivate and commend the children they love and care for.
As I mentioned above, here is a secondary list. These all deserve attention too, and I hope they all continue to work on their projects, listen to the users, improve based on feedback, and become even better with more time.
I like the idea of publishing to a blog via github, which is what GitWrite does, and does nicely, but, as long as I can only publish on their site, its worthless. Really, it would have been better if they had released a Rails gem that I could use to publish data, via git, to any existing Rails site. Now that might be cool.
This looks handy for integrating statuses between Twitter and Facebook. It was very quick to sign up and try. I particularly like that it says it changes a Twitter user name to a real life name. The downside, after an hour, my test tweet has yet to show up in my Facebook account. Maybe I did something wrong, not sure.
You Must Do
I had to list this one, because it has a great design and interface and I could definitely see some people using it. That said, I’m sure I won’t. I have such a long list of personal desires and todos, I’ll be dead 50 years before I get to them all. No need to pad the list.
Creates a memory style game for you based on your search term of choice by pulling Google images. Great use of the Google image functionality. Only down side is that so far most of the images that I’ve gotten haven’t matched my topic entered. Nice idea though. Looks nice, easy to use, and not throwing errors nor broken.
I like the attempt at making a game out of Foursquare and location checkin. I’m not a big fan of location checkins and haven’t really figured out a use yet, other than to satisfy your stalker’s appetites. But, WarSquare aims to make a game of it. While it was a worthwhile attempt, I find two major flaws with it. One, its clunky to use. I want more buttons to increase quantities, and less typing. It’s supposed to be a game. And two, at this stage, it does little good to show me nearby locations, since its unlikely I’ll ever be around another player of the game. So why not show me the nearest friend owned location? I know a friend in Tampa who tried this. I would have like to be able to use my units to attack him, but, I can’t unless I happen to know what places he owns. Kind of defeats the point of social location networking. But that could be addressed after the Rumble.
This site looks great. The problem with it is, that it doesn’t do nearly enough to manage a project. Essentially its Twitter but for a Project. You simply leave status messages attached to a project and then watch the stream. That might work for an extremely easy hobby project, but for real project management it just won’t cut it. But it does look nice and was a decent amount of work completed in 48 hours and stood out among the others enough to list them here.
Those of us who work from home full time, or even those who work in an office and have the freedom to work elsewhere, are always on the lookout for a great place to work for an afternoon, either alone or in a coworking situation. DesksNear.me desires to provide an online listing of these available places. The trick to making this work will be adoption. Right now there are no available spaces in my area and until there is, it won’t do me much good.
This site allows you to nag your friends until they pay a debt they owe you. Personally, I just list owed debt in my Task Manager and remind people every few months with a repeating task. But, this site is a good way to ensure your stingy friend either pays up or never speaks to you again.