RailsRumble reflections

Our entry for the 2009 RailsRumble programming competition.

RailsRumble is a 48-hour web application development competition. Your team gets one weekend to design, develop and deploy the best web application possible. We were crazy enough to give it a shot.


We were planning to build a questionnaire app but the day before the competition started, we decided to change plans. We often have these “We want to build something, what application would be useful?” discussions. At such moments we can’t come up with clever ideas while during the day we often have ideas about great applications the world is still missing. Well, now there is an app for that: Idealist.

Idealist is our entry for the competition. It’s a drop box for ideas. Have an idea? Write it down and let it boil there for a while. Others can look through the ideas and comment on them, hopefully resulting in better ideas after a while (or maybe it makes you realize why it may not have been such a promising idea after all).


It’s great fun! If you know or want to learn Ruby on Rails, I recommend competing next year. I learned a lot, like installing a full Rails stack in 3 hours to name one. The best part for me is the atmosphere: both in the team and online (Twitter and IRC). For 48 hours it looks like the entire world is writing code and eating pizza.

What I didn’t like: our preparations sucked. We didn’t think it through which results in an application without a clearly defined goal: it’s not obvious how it works or why you would use it. This could be better. Some other dos and don’ts: don’t upgrade your Rails version in the middle of the competition, know which gems to user and try them out, have an idea of the website structure and focus on the core features (we lost too much time with the Twitter OAuth integration).


By the end of the competition the code got a little messy. After the voting round is over, we plan to refactor the code, fix the structure and add a Facebook like ‘like’ feature. Once this is done, we can move the whole thing to some server and open it up for everyone.

Hope to see you next year as a RailsRumble competitor!