Tuesday, June 4, 2013

APIs, Clouds, Images, Wear Tests, and more with Cloudinary and MESH01

We love APIs. We love cloud platforms, crowdsourcing, building crowdsourcing platforms, and lots of other topics associated with CloudSpokes, but we really do have a soft spot for APIs.

Therefore, when faced with a slight technical annoyance regarding images for Spokes Partner, MESH01, we turned to a rock solid API provider to help: Cloudinary. We caught up for a quick Q&A with co-founder, Itai Lahan, to discuss.

Background story:
We’re no strangers to Cloudinary. Many moons ago (aka, back in February) we launched a successful software development challenge to port our public profiles for CloudSpokes members with Cloudinary, as part of our new rails site deployment (read more on our community-developed site). As big fans (and now a customer) of the API, we kept it on our radar.

Fast forward to our Wear Test series for MESH01. The Wear test: Image Uploader with API challenge we ran, while successful, used our custom wear test API to upload images to S3 and write the image set to MongoDB through the API. In addition we ran a secondary challenge (Wear test: imageSet with API) to build the client that would display image sets from MongoDB via the API as well as all the image inside them. This solution worked great, but the thumbnails were not generated and full sized images were being sent over the wire only to be scaled on the client side. It wasn’t the most ideal process.

To fix the problem, we turned to Cloudinary with this development challenge - Wear test: Image Uploader API+client to Cloudinary. We’re thrilled with the results, so we decided to catch up with their team to chat about it all. Note that we’re probably going to run a few more challenges to take advantage of all the features.

Also note that we're currently running a $40K Code Blitz for MESH01 through June! If you want to stay on-top of it all simply subscribe to future MESH01 challenges here:

Be notified first when we post new MESH01 challenges:

Q: Hey Itai - how’s it going?
A: Everything is great, thanks! we are having a fantastic time working on Cloudinary. We get lots of love from our customers and we are growing exceptionally well. No complaints.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about Cloudinary?
A: Of-course. Simply put - Cloudinary is about images. If you have many images on your website, just use Cloudinary, it will save you tons of dev & IT time and will offer all the image-related features you ever wanted, from uploads, storage, administration, manipulations, to delivery. With Cloudinary you can easily upload images to the cloud and automatically perform smart image manipulations without installing any complex software. All your images are seamlessly delivered through a fast CDN, optimized and using industry best practices. Cloudinary has comprehensive APIs and administration capabilities and is easy to integrate with new and existing web applications.

Q: How did Cloudinary come to be? What was your inspiration for launching this service?
A: Between Cloudinary’s three founders, we have been developing software for nearly 50 years. Feeling kinda old right now... anyhows, throughout the years, we’ve used many web development frameworks first hand. From CGI programming in the 90s, all the way to Ruby on Rails, our current web-dev platform of choice. With RoR we were able to build quite a few impressive web applications. However, we still found ourselves spending considerable time managing our services’ images. We never managed to free enough time to perfect our image management solutions. So we’ve finally decided to make the time and build a service that would offer an end-to-end solution to an application’s entire image-related needs, by developers to developers. Exactly as we’ve always envisioned it. And this is Cloudinary.

Q: How did you first hear about CloudSpokes?
A: We’ve ran into CloudSpokers a few times in the past, but it was only when you’ve contacted us a few months back that we’ve really connected. At that time, you had a particular challenge that required heavy use of image manipulations and you’ve reached out to learn more about Cloudinary and see how it can help. We’re very glad you did!

Q: How do you see crowdsourcing, or community software development playing into the IT landscape in the future?
A: We’re avid fans of crowdsourcing throughout its entire spectrum. We were big fans of “wisdom of the crowd” news websites when they were still popular, we’ve been following crowdfunded projects vigorously, we’ve had tons of positive experience working with microwork crowdsourcing platforms (Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in particular), and successfully used various crowdsourcing solutions to connect us to specific talents we didn’t have in-house. Specifically for software development, the potential seems huge. With CloudSpokes attracting such a great talent, we have our fingers crossed for you guys!

Q: Thank you for your time, Itai, and your fantastic API with Cloudinary!

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