Friday, June 29, 2012

DocuSign's shiny new REST API

Our partner, DocuSign, had a major developer announcement this week, that we were proud to not only be a small part of, but that will also effect CloudSpokes in a fantastic way. First, the announcement:

We're proud to say that we've been involved in this project for the past few months. It kicked off with a planning meeting at DocuSign headquarters where our own Jeff Douglas joined an all-star team of contributors to the REST API design, bringing best practices and other ideas to the table. We also presented with Mike and crew at CloudForce San Francisco on the process:

Now with the announcement, we'll soon have a new process for using DocuSign on CloudSpokes itself. Using the new REST API, new members will be able to go to their "Payment Info" section, and sign their required tax documents electronically! Expect to see this functionality shortly in your account settings. Huge kudos to the DocuSign team for helping us automate a manual process that's now going to be a win-win for everyone involved.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rolling Thunder Round 6 Winners!

Here at CloudSpokes the Rolling Thunder challenges just keep rolling along. In fact, it seems like just yesterday we were talking about Round 5 being completed! And just like that...Round 6 too, is now in the books!

Continuing on with the theme and design from round 2, rounds 3, 4 & 5 were completed in great style! Having at least 4 submissions on each challenge, and a wide variety of winners, Round 6, which was to build out the "Challenge Details Page", was no different. There were even so many good submissions, we had to pay out the top 5, with a log jam at 2nd place.

In the end however, forcexperts proved to have the tiger blood with his submission #Winning the gold. Not close behind (actually all with a tie score) were JustinLau, talesforce and alfongj. Rounding out the winners and coming 3rd for this round was prashanthreddy.

As usual, we had our in house expert Jeff Douglas run through all of the demo's and break them down in a video, which you should definitely check out below! Also, head over to the challenges page and get your game on with our Quick Quizzes, which are running now until July 15th and have $1,000 in daily prizes!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Return of the QuickQuiz!

A long time ago on a website far far away, QuickQuizzes went on hiatus.  Some thought we had seen the last of their kind.  But fear not!  QuickQuizzes have returned, better than ever.

Every day thru July 15th, we’ll be giving away $1,000 to the winners of our 5-minute Quick Quizzes.  These fun little challenges test your ability to beat the clock by answering ten short coding exercises as fast as possible.  You can choose Javascript, Ruby, Java, or prove your true Mastery of the Force by selecting a Random combination of all three languages.

And if you really want to prove your Jedi coding skills, submit your own quick quiz question and earn extra money for stumping your fellow CloudSpokers!  So what are you waiting for?  Fun, cash, and eternal bragging rights await!  Try out a QuickQuiz today!

Twitter "Doghouse App" Winners!

You know that one friend that blows up your twitter feed with stuff you just don't care about? The person who is always at some concert or game, and is live tweeting the entire thing like anyone who isn't there could not possibly know what is going on without you tweeting every second?

Well here at CloudSpokes we know exactly what that is like and have even been guilty of doing so ourselves! So we wanted to come up with a cool way to end the madness, but not just by unfollowing your friends because, after all, while they do spam you, you know they are the best at finding those amazing YouTube videos that you couldn't live with out seeing!

So what is the solution...? this challenge! Create a "doghouse" app in ruby that allows users to authenticate via twitter or Facebook, then send friends to "my doghouse" which temporarily unfollows them, and then re-follows them after a desired period of time. That way, just put those people in the "doghouse" for however long you want, and enjoy scrolling through your news feed with no speed-bumps!

There ended up being 2 really awesome submissions, which both featured a great user interface and some super cool features! After running through the submissions and the demo apps (and putting each other in our own "doghouses"), it was  pretty clear that dubroe had the 1st place app and tomaisthorpe came in a close 2nd. Check out their video submissions below and go demo the app here, so next time your buddy tweets about how excited he is for this new episode of "Storage Wars", put him in the doghouse for a quick 30 minutes and enjoy some social media silence!

Place: 1
Money: $1000

Place: 2
Money: $500

Rolling Thunder Round 5 Winners!

Round 5 is officially in the books!

The Rolling Thunder series is moving along with great pace, and is producing some killer results. In Round 3 we had you build the mobile homepage, and in Round 4 you used the same theme and design to build out the "Challenges" section of the mobile site. Well to continue on with that train, we then asked you to build the "Members" section for Round 5.

The common thing with these challenges so far had been numerous amazing submissions, and Round 5 was definitely right on queue! We even ended up paying out an extra winner! The winners for this round, PaulKolbovich, JustinLau, talesforce and forcexperts were some familiar faces for the series, having all submitted on at least 1 previous round!

Make sure to check out the video breakdown of Jeff running through each submission and giving his 2 cents on the demos. As always, keep an eye out for the next Rolling Thunder challenge, the next winner could be you!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rolling Thunder Round 4 Winners!

Rolling Thunder... rolls on! We are now finished with round 4 of the Title Fight that is a CloudSpokes mobile site! Having just finished up the home page design and implementation in round 3, next was the "Challenges" page.

Using the existing code base built up through the first 3 rounds, we needed you to use the same theme and design of the home page from round 3 winner alfongj, to design the challenges page. Just like last time, a swarm of good submissions came in and made our judging lives difficult, once again!

The winners for this round were JustinLau, prashanthreddy and talesforce who came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Check out the video of Jeff running through the demo's and breaking down each submission! You'll definitely see why we had such a hard time picking winners once you see how cool each submission really was! Also, head over to the challenges page and keep an eye out for the next Rolling Thunder challenge.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rolling Thunder Round 3 Winners!

User-added image A couple of weeks back we launched our "Rolling Thunder" challenges to build our mobile site, which currently is not up to par. Right away we had a ton of interest from you all, eager to build out a mobile site that wasn't such a pain to use!

The series of 2 day challenges started off with a bang! Round 1 and Round 2 went to talesforce, who was the clear winner in both sprints, with some awesome submissions!

In this, our third challenge of the series, we asked you to implement the home page design, building off of the first 2 challenges. Per usual, there were a handful of really good submissions, which made this challenge extremely difficult to pick the winners! After looking over the submissions for what seemed like an eternity, we finally came away with alfongj taking 1st place, followed closely by PaulKolbovich and JustinLau

Our very own Jeff Douglas shot a really cool video of him demo-ing the home pages, so make sure to give that a look below! Also, head over to the challenges page and keep up with the Rolling Thunder challenges, you could be the next winner!

Member Hangout Recap

As you know, we hosted another one of our member hangouts this morning and got to shoot some of our ideas at you and hear your feedback! From the sound of things, you seemed pretty excited about what we have planned, and also offered some great ideas to make CloudSpokes even better. We know that without you all, there is no CloudSpokes, so we are constantly trying to make improvements and and make the community as strong as possible. We love getting ideas from you and turning those ideas into a reality! After all, our ultimate goal is to provide you with the opportunities to improve your skills and become better developers in the end, and we take pride in being that resource!

In case you weren't able to be part of our hangout this morning, don't worry... we recorded the whole thing via YouTube, and posted it below for you to check out!

As always, thanks for hanging out with us, and we look forward to doing it again soon, so keep your eyes peeled for the next hangout!

See you next time!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 20th G+ Hangout Reminder

Hey CloudSpokers!

Remember that we have a Google+ Hangout scheduled for tomorrow morning, June 20th, at 10am EST. We will be providing you with a link to join the hangout right at 10am via our personal G+ accounts so make sure to add us (Jeff Douglas, Dave Messinger, Tim Hicks) to your circles! We will also be pushing out the link via twitter, so follow @CloudSpokes and look for it there as well!

If the Hangout reaches capacity we will also be sending out a link to a live stream of the Hangout via YouTube!

We look forward to seeing some familiar faces, meeting some new members and, as always, there will be some Q&A so make sure you have a couple questions ready to fire our way, and we'll do our best to answer them!

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guest Blogger: Alfonso Gómez-Jordana

Guest Blogger: Alfonso

Alfonso (aka alfongj) is one our newest members, and is already making a big splash. Having joined just weeks ago, Alfonso has already won his first challenge, and it happened to be the first one he ever even submitted on! That’s like hitting a homerun in your first ever Big League at bat! Well, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get Alfonso in for a guest blog, and luckily he was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to participate. Coming to us all the way from Spain, please welcome Alfonso to the CloudSpokes community, and check out his first (of many more to come) ever Guest Blog!

Hello everyone! My name is Alfonso Gómez-Jordana and I am 20 year old spanish university student.

I discovered this incredible website thanks to the CodeSchool promotion, and just a couple of weeks later, here I am, having already won my first CloudSpokes challenge! I had such a sense of pride after finding out I had won, I couldn’t reject the opportunity to write up a post about it! So let’s get to it! 

Challenge Description:

The challenge I took was called ‘Visualize’ javascript graphing library tweaks, which I will briefly describe: 

Visualize is a jQuery plugin that picks data from HTML tables and represents it in the form of line, area, bar or pie graphs. It is very easy and automatic to use, and at the same time it is very powerful: highly customizable, compatible from IE6 onwards... but it isn’t the Holy Grail unfortunately.

Speaking exclusively about line graphs from now on, when plotting too many lines the into them, the information gets cluttered easily, and it is very difficult to differentiate one line from another. But a picture is worth a thousand words, so to better understand it, use the following image to see how the original graphs looked, and the annotations of what had to be done to complete the task.

As you see it is very clear what needed to be done but in spite of that, gackerjr - the contest admin - also included a quite entertaining and detailed explanation of everything. I seriously recommend reading it if you still haven’t (and by the way, I wish my university assignments were as half as clear!)

The Job:

Well, the truth is that I didn’t rack my brains with it: I simply did everything that was asked! All without any tricks or bribery being involved!
Besides the basics, other things I did, and I would recommend you do too, are:
Include a few useful extras, such as settings for customizing the shapes used, which, although they were not asked for, surely make it a better ‘product’.
Put a lot of effort into documenting the project (I included both a pdf tutorial, and a video screencast on how to use it). No coder likes to do so, I’m sure! But hey, the reviewers, or people that would in the future use your code probably prefer a good documentation or tutorial than diving into code!

And well, this was the result:

The Internal Guts:

Ok, now for the interesting stuff you coders might be wondering about: the languages/ frameworks/ APIs used, and the main difficulties involved. As ‘Visualize’ is a jQuery plugin, all the code I needed to change was pure javascript (and some bits of CSS for styling). And inside the javascript world, I mainly used some jQuery features (selectors, appending, prepending... nothing really fancy was needed), and also the HTML5 canvas API. All the actual plot (the white rectangle with the lines) is an HTML canvas, so most of my time was spent with it, for changing the vertices to custom shapes. For these shapes I could have simply used .png’s or .gif’s, but that would be a dirty trick which would make the process of using ‘visualize’ more tedious both for the computer loading it, and the web designer importing it... So I finally decided to draw them in code. I had to apply my geometry skills from school to draw them more or less accurately and, well, on the one hand some were obvious such as the square or circle, but on the other, I spent quite a lot of time (maybe half an hour, if not more) with the damn star only! Finally, I also drew the shapes in the ‘legend’ under the plot using little canvases for each one you see. 
Apart from that, not much... the labels at the top and right weren’t really difficult to implement, and the scrambled legend problem was fixed changing a bit of the CSS and layout.

The only final thing that is worth mentioning is, guess what...?

IE6 (and IE7 and IE8) Compatibility:

First of all, some of you might have noticed that before IE9 canvas wasn’t supported in Internet Explorer (this is not Microsoft’s fault! this is because the HTML5 Canvas API has started to be implemented more or less recently). But the original ‘Visualize’ worked from IE6 onwards, using a very interesting library you should take note of: ExCanvas, which brings Canvas functionality to lower versions of IE... or most of it at least. And well, although it worked fine with the original Visualize, when I tested it in my modified version I almost sh*t my pants off: everything was broken. Luckily, most of the problems were solved simply changing a bit of the HTML layout, but one didn’t! For some reason, the little canvases that I used for drawing the shapes in the legend didn’t display anything!

*I hope this gets well indexed in Google, as I couldn’t find anyone that had solved this problem before me:*

To draw more than one canvas using ExCanvas you need to add them one by one to the DOM. 

What do I mean? That you can not create yourself an HTML node with a list of many canvases and then append it using jQuery to wherever you want it. Instead, you need to create one canvas, draw on it, append it to the DOM; create another one, draw on it, append it to the DOM, etc. What a pain!

And with that, I finish my post.

I would like to thank again, firstly you for taking the time to read this, and secondly the CloudSpokes staff that made all this possible! Count me in for lots more contests!
- alfongj

Friday, June 15, 2012

Google Daily Domain Email Winners!

Domain managers constantly need convenient access to their domain statistics, and what’s more convenient than getting everything you need delivered all in one single email message in your inbox? Nothing...that's what!

That being said, we created this challenge, which was to create a Google AppEngine app that allows a Google Apps domain manager to pick and choose from various Google Apps reports, and have them wrapped up in an easy-to-read summary report! All of which would then be delivered to their mailbox on a scheduled basis.

Pretty awesome right? Well we certainly think so, and so did you! Especially soe, who was the lone winner for this challenge, pocketing a quick $1,000 bucks for their awesome submission! Check out their demo app and video below for more details on the submission!
Place: 1
Money: $1000

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CloudSpokes Google+ Hangout - 10am EST 6/20

It's that time again! We will be holding another "Hangout" on Google+ next Wednesday, June 20th from 10am - 11am EST. Come meet the team, shoot questions at us about current or past challenges, how things are goin, or just hangout with us! We'd love to have you!

If you don't already have one, make sure to create a Google+ account and add Jeff Douglas, Dave Messinger or Myself to your circles so we can invite you to hangout! We'll make sure to add you back as well! We will be sending out a link to the "Hangout" right at 10am EST on the 20th to your Google+ stream, but make sure you are also following @cloudspokes on Twitter, as we will be pushing the info out on there as well! If you have difficulties being added to the hangout due to capacity, we will have a link to a live stream via YouTube as well!

We look forward to hanging out with you! See you next week!

"On the Go" Mobile Opportunity Products Winners

Salespeople are always on the go and have little time. They need to get work done "right now" and not later on in the day when they can log into We needed to create a fast, slick and effective way for salespeople to add products to an Opportunity at the point of sale while on their iPad, or other mobile device. So instead of getting our spare lumber and duct tape out to  fashion together a wild contraption, we came up with this challenge!

The app we were looking for was very simple. It needed to display a list of their Opportunities and then allow them to add/edit/delete Opportunity Products. Luckily we had a couple really great submissions that above and beyond what we were looking for! In this case cloudchallenger "nailed it" with with their submission and avidev9 came in a close 2nd. Make sure to look over their demo videos below, and check out our series of Rolling Thunder Challenges to help build a mobile CloudSpokes site!

Place: 1
Money: $1250

Place: 2
Money: $750

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

CloudSpokes surpasses $500,000 prize money in record time #crowdsourcing #cloud development

Looked at an interesting report today that showed the payments to CloudSpokes contest winners over time.  According to the graph, it took 297 days after launch to pass the $250,000 mark in total prize winnings.  The CloudSpokes community has now surpassed half a million dollars in winnings just 187 days later -- a 58% increase in the rate of earnings! (validating my rusty math is left as an exercise for the reader).  This is great validation of how rapidly enterprises are adopting crowdsourcing, and a testament to the skill and innovation that CloudSpokes community members bring to bear every day solving real-world development problems for businesses.  Congratulations to the #1 crowd-in-the-cloud and onward to $1,000,000!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Extract IRS e-File Winners!

As many of us know, there is nothing more painful than applying for student loans. Filling out pages upon pages of tax information, personal information, financial information, your cats name... It will make you want to go crazy and rip your hair out! Luckily, we had the idea to come up with this challenge

What this challenge called for was to create a sample app, that would help facilitate applying for financial aid by pulling in tax information from an existing file. That and keep thousands of college students and their parents from going insane every year!

Apparently you felt our pain, and knew what a hassel the process was and took it upon yourselves to stop the madness! avidev9 and antenna came in clutch with two really awesome submissions, and for that we thank them! As always, be sure to check out their demo videos below, and head over to the active challenges page and get coding on something new!

Place: 1
Money: $1200

Place: 2
Money: $500

Beastie Boys Tribute with Backbone.js Winners!

Back in May, music lost an icon with the tragic passing of Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who lost his fight with cancer at the age of 47. Being big fans of their music, all of us here at CloudSpokes knew we needed to honor MCA and the Beastie Boys in some way, so we created this challenge.

The requirement for this challenge was to create a table of Beastie Boys songs with 3 or 4 columns (song name, album, song length, written by, quotable, etc) and 5 - 10 rows where you can drag cells left or right. The end user needed to be able to select a row and display the details of the record. And we wanted all of this done using Backbone.js!

Shout outs to d1b1, eadlam and akkishore, who came up with some pretty awesome submissions and crushed this challenge. Especially d1b1, who went with "No Sleep Till Backbone Brooklyn" on the challenge scoring a perfect 100 with his awesome submission! Make sure to check out the demo videos below, and keep an eye out for our next Backbone.js challenge!

Place: 1
Money: $300
Place: 2
Money: $200

Place: 3
Money: $100

Friday, June 8, 2012

Agile Crowd Development in the Cloud Rolls On

We kicked off our first "Rolling Thunder" challenge Tuesday as a test of crowdsourced, agile development in the cloud. The results from this first sprint are in, we've selected a winner and we just kicked off the second sprint, Mobile CloudSpokes Site II (Wireframes) based upon the winner's submission.

We announced the winner of our Mobile CloudSpokes Site (Design) challenge today with the high level design and Talesforce was the clear winner. By winner, I mean he crushed it. It's clear from his submission that the lack of a mobile friendly CloudSpokes site is a major pain point in his life and we apologize. Take a look at his videos (parts 1 and 2) and his high level design document for our new mobile CloudSpokes site. We are adopting his jQuery Mobile approach using Node.js and heroku. We think it's #awesome!

This second sprint, Mobile CloudSpokes Site II (Wireframes), uses Talesforce's design doc to iterate on the actual wireframes for each screen for the application. We intend to start another sprint on Monday to build out more assets based upon the detailed wireframes produced by this challenge.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Better Know a CloudSpoker - Edwin Lukaweski

Welcome to another installment of our "Better Know a CloudSpoker" series where we interview community members so that you can put a name with a face and gain a little insight. This week I interviewed Edwin Lukaweski (aka elukaweski) from Canada. Edwin has been competing in a lot of our early Java and Google challenges and we talk about how he got started programming, technologies that excite him and his love for travel.

This is our first "Better Know a CloudSpoker" using Google Hangouts hopefully it turns out well.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Rolling Thunder" Challenges

We were brainstorming during a Google Hangout the other day on how to run agile development in the cloud. For instance, we want to build a mobile-friendly version of the site through a series of challenges. How do you do that in an agile manner with the crowd?

So we can up with an idea for what we call "rolling thunder" challenges. (We thought of coining the term "clagile" for agile cloud development but it sounds too much like "kludgy".) We are going to break the process of building our mobile-friendly site into a series of 2 day challenges. When a challenge ends, we'll pick the winning submission and launch the next challenge within 24 hours using the code from the previous challenge.

This should be a fun and exciting way to get a large number of people involved in the process at different points. We'll see how it turns out as we launch our first "rolling thunder" challenge today!