Friday, March 29, 2013

#DifferentSpokes - With Guest Host @Kevino80 from LevelEleven

#DifferentSpokes is back at it next Wednesday, April 3rd at 8am PST. Special guest, Kevin O'Hara, the CTO of LevelEleven will be joining us to talk all things Node.JS and answer your questions.

We will be running through the normal agenda, but also have a couple pretty neat surprises planned for the show as well.

It is sure to be a good time as always, so make sure to have read "Hands on Node.JS" by Manuel Kiessling and send your questions in via Twitter using hashtag #DifferentSpokes. Per usual, we will answer the questions as they come in, but you can also submit questions before the show airs. A google+ event reminder is also available here.

The agenda for the show is as follows:
  • Intro
  • Guest Host: Kevin O'Hara joins us to answer questions and tell us what is new in his world of gamification
  • Bowerman's Book Club: Kyle breaks down "Hands on Node.JS"
  • Shoot the Spokes: Q&A
  • Wrap Up
For more info on our special guest host, Kevin O'Hara, follow him on twitter!

Watch the live show here:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Nominate Your Ombudsman

Recently we announced our Ombudsman Program. After a couple weeks of gathering your feedback on the program and letting it gain interest, we are now ready to take nominations. We want to know who you want to see as your Ombudsman.

Nominations are anonymous and open to multiple responses per member. If you want to nominate more than one fellow CloudSpoker, just submit the form again! We will be taking the top 3 nominated members and, after asking their interest of course, will be determining who the first Ombudsman will be. Nominations will end Sunday, March 31st at 11:59pm PST.

To nominate, just simply fill out this form below.


Guest Blog: One Week - 3 Challenges, 3 Wins by @makifcakar

Just a couple of weeks ago we saw a tweet on our feed from a CloudSpokes member that caught our attention (click and you'll see why). MAkif is a new name we recognized from the community but didn't have a lot of interaction with yet. We reached out to see if he would be interested in doing a guest blog for us to give us his perspective on his great week of CloudSpoking:

Guest Blog: One Week - 3 Challenges, 3 Wins

Hi everyone, it’s Mehmet Akif CAKAR, aka MAkif  from Turkey. I've been working as a software architect for eight years now. Outside of work, I study for my PhD thesis which is about big data analysis and partition optimization. My primary development experience is on the .Net platform due to local market demand. During my career, I’ve been part of lots of software projects, and developed many web & windows services, desktop & mobile applications, Sharepoint portals, Biztalk integration projects etc. Many of them received rewards from various authorities and mobile vendors. In short, I define myself as a technology seeker. Playing with new technologies and products takes a bit of time from my daily life but has great benefits. As an example, you can see my apps published in nearly all mobile platforms such as Android, Bada, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian, Ubuntu, Tizen, webOS, Windows Phone etc. Also I’m interested in developing tiny apps by using VR devices.

Luckily I became a CloudSpokes member about a year ago. Many of you, may not recognize my name since I can’t regularly participate in challenges as much as I'd like to. When I do get some free time and see a challenge that offers something new to learn, I definitely join it. I’ve won many hitherto challenges that I join. But that doesn’t always mean that I necessarily won cash rewards. Some experiences taken from prominent members like wcheung, or talesforce are worth much more than the offered cash prize. As a unique crowdsourcing platform, CloudSpokes provides many benefits for me. Like:

  • It keeps me updated with new technologies: Not only by joining challenges but also by following the CloudSpokes Blog and #DifferentSpokes recaps, I can get information about emerging technologies. It’s very important for me because I don’t want to be jailed in .Net world.
  • Being paid while learning: I agree with Paul Nattrass on his blog post. Being paid to learn is an effective title to explain this benefit. (Normally we need to spend cash to learn something new)
  • Improving solution quality: In my opinion, all submissions contain their own strengths whether or not they win any of the prizes. Being able to take a look at all of the submissions after the announcement of judging results, helps me in improving solution quality moving forward.

One of the things that I like about CloudSpokes is the continuous renewal of all its aspects. Day by day you can see new features and new concepts. With the help of these innovations CS will reach the 100k member milestone before we know it. Also, I want to call attention to Ombudsman program, because I truly believe in importance of a role between the community and the CS team. I'm excited to see who from the community will be the first one.

To sum up everything I've mentioned above,  I’m just really happy to be a member of this great community. I would  definitely recommend joining CloudSpokes for all developers whether you are a student or a professional. All of you may find many new benefits for yourself.

Finally, I would like to give my regards and thanks to CloudSpokes team for keeping this platform up and running.

Mehmet Akif CAKAR;

In The News: Crowdsourcing crucial for scaling cloud projects

ZDNet - Heather Clancy

"...If you haven't read ZDNet's past coverage about CloudSpokes, the idea is for enterprises to use the site to help develop specific applications that plug in to broader platforms by running challenges to see what already exists and might be reusable. More than 600 challenges have been completed so far.

"You know somewhere in the world that someone else did something like what you need, maybe even just last week," Singh said.

The original plan was to use CloudSpokes as a supplement to Appirio's own resources, but a healthy development community has built up around several well-known cloud platforms, including, Box and DocuSign, he said..."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#DifferentSpokes "Google Talk" Recap

Let me guess - you missed today's episode of #DifferentSpokes because some lame excuse like, being at work, or trying desperately to get your Google IO ticket. Well by now you know the procedure and where to find the recorded video. What you didn't know is that today's episode was the first episode with a hidden gem. And no, I'm not talking about how many times Kyle changed his hat!

At one point during today's episode, our special guest Matt Pruden told us his very unique idea for a CloudSpokes challenge. Well, we are turning that idea into a reality, but there is a catch. Only those who tuned in live, or watch the recording will know what the challenge is, and they will get a 48 hour head start. All others who don't watch the episode will see or hear about it for the first time on Friday when we launch it on the site, opening it up for all other members to begin participating.
Q: So, there's $1500 up for grabs on a secret challenge that only those who watch the episode will know about for the next 48 hours?
A: Yup!
Q: What if there are questions about the challenge?
A: Send questions about the challenge to with the subject line #DifferentSpokes Challenge Questions and your questions will be answered.
Q: Awesome?
Huge thanks to Matt and Nick for joining our panel today. Our next episode will be on Wednesday, April 3rd at 8am PST with special guest host Kevin O'Hara. A Google+ event will be created as well as a reminder. We will also get back to Bowermans Book Club for that show and will be discussing Hands on Node.JS by Manuel Kiessling so be prepared to ask the panel questions about the book using Twitter hashtag #DifferentSpokes. We will of course also be back live next Friday, March 22nd at 12:30pm PST with our PhoneGap Live demo.

Check out today's show below and get that head start on our awesome new Google App Engine secret challenge. See you next time.

#DifferentSpokes 3/13/13 "Google Talk"

Hey there CloudSpokers! Tune in today at 11am EST for another edition of #DifferentSpokes. Today we will be focusing our conversation on all things Google and have two very special guests joining our panel for you to fire questions at.

Matt Pruden and Nick Marson from Appirio's Google Practice will be on talking about what they do, and how they see CloudSpokes and Google continuing to grow. It will be a great show as always, and we even have a special announcement that you have watch to see!

Don't forget to send in all of your questions for Matt, Nick and the gang using Twitter and hashtag #DifferentSpokes. We will be monitoring the feed throughout the show and will get to them as they come in. The link to the live broadcast will be sent out via Twitter and our Google+ community as well.

The Agenda for today's show is as follows:

  • Intro
  • Rapid Fire Round
  • Shoot the Spokes - Q&A
  • Special Announcement
  • Wrap Up

In the meantime, check out this video of our special guest host, Nick, as he helps his dogs paint the CloudSpokes logo for an art contest sponsored by Appirio!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

MESH01 - New Spokes Partner with #AngularJS, #nodejs, #MongoDB, and #Heroku fun

Hot on the heels of our new Spokes announcement, we’re very excited to add a new CloudSpokes Spokes Partner to the ranks with MESH01 -

The way we discovered this unique partner came from our mutually similar approaches to solving problems. MESH01 is a unique virtual platform that links leading brands in the sports style industry with a diverse pool of designers, wear testers, sports enthusiasts, and targeted consumers to provide valuable and varying degrees of input throughout a product’s lifecycle.

There's two ways to get involved with MESH01 right now, either testing cool new products through the MESH01 platform, or playing with cool new technologies on CloudSpokes to build that innovative platform:

1) Wear Test - MESH01

If you enjoy testing out new products from leading brands including running shoes, cycling gloves, golf equipment and more, become a MESH01 wear tester. The program allows you to be the first to trial the best these new brands have to offer, and give your feedback on what works and what doesn't. Check their blog to learn more, and to join the team simply create your profile:

2) Wear Test Platform - CloudSpokes

Our new Spokes partnership means that the CloudSpokes community will be building the future of the MESH01 Wear Test platform. As well, if you're curious about AngularJS and are looking to get your feet wet, this is most definitely the time. With a series of AngularJS challenges coming and a series of the first few example projects already complete, it's a great way to get started and win.

Stay tuned to the MESH01 Spoke page to find out about the latest Wear Test challenges and get ahead of the game:

Introducing the CloudSpokes Ombudsman

As previously mentioned in Jeff's March Road Map blog, CloudSpokes is introducing an Ombudsman program to help keep the community growing and moving forward. While we have been considering this idea for sometime now to determine the best role the Ombudsman can play, we aren’t taking credit for the original idea.

Rock star member logontokartik sent an email to the CloudSpokes team about the idea of an Ombudsman, and included a set of rules and a workflow of how the program should work. We were thrilled with his idea. While Kartik's vision of the program is slightly different than what we are introducing today, we would not be here without his vested care for this community.

The CloudSpokes Ombudsman: defines Ombudsman as: a commissioner who acts as independent referee between individual citizens and their government or its administration. Our Ombudsman definition will slightly vary. The CloudSpokes Ombudsman will be a liaison between the CloudSpokes team and the community, always having the communities best interest in mind and being the community voice on all CloudSpokes decisions.

The CloudSpokes Ombudsman will be an honorific role within the community and will be one of the most prestigious roles this community has to offer. With such prestigiousness comes great responsibility, and dedication. The Ombudsman will have an equal balance of responsibilities, benefits, and requirements. Those RBR's are as follows:

The Requirements:
  1. Must be nominated by the community for consideration
  2. Must have a proven history of activity in the community
  3. Will sit in on bi-weekly sprint planning meetings
  4. Will sit in on bi-weekly platform update meetings
  5. Will sit in on bi-weekly membership update meetings
The Responsibilities:
  1. Attend the meetings listed above without absence (meetings will be scheduled upon decision of Ombudsman due to time zones and availability)
    1. Record meeting minutes to be shared with the community
  2. Provide proactive communication with the community via a private forum
  3. Provide a formal review of CloudSpokes every month via the blog
  4. Maintain a positive rating as Ombudsman via the community
The Benefits:
  1. Ombudsman title and badge within the community
  2. Personally interact with the CloudSpokes team and a have voice on all CloudSpokes decisions
  3. Recognition on the community section of the site
  4. CloudSpokes timbuk2 laptop bag
  5. $3,000 USD in budget for launching cool challenges to help improve the CloudSpokes platform or site.
The CloudSpokes Ombudsman will be a six month term and will be up for election starting immediately. Ombudsman are eligible for consecutive terms as long as the community believes they are fulfilling all of their duties and are maintaining a positive ranking. Please submit all questions and comments to our dedicated Ombudsman forum page found here. For nominating peers or self interest in the Ombudsman position, send an email to

Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest Blog: Being Paid to Learn, the Nerd Nirvana by Paul Nattrass

A while back we ran a pretty cool challenge using the Google Prediction API, where we wanted to predict challenge submissions based on certain data sets. The challenge had a lot of interest and the winning member, Paul Nattrass reached out to us with some great feedback about the challenge. We traded emails about higher education and the important role CloudSpokes can play for students everywhere. After Paul and I got done chatting like two old buddies in a pub on a friday after work, I realized Paul would be an awesome guest for our blog. He agreed to write something up, and I must say, I believe it is the first of many more to come. Paul hails from Chorley England and has been doing development for 5 years now. Even though he is experienced, Paul believes that CloudSpokes has helped grow his skills, and push him into new things. We certainly like to hear that, and Paul also said that his wife likes the winnings he gets from competing, so really everyone is happy! Check out his blog below.

Being Paid to Learn, the Nerd Nirvana

I love learning new things, I love making sense of things that I thought I wouldn't be able to understand. Cloud development was one of those things that I was going to ‘get around to’, and then I found CloudSpokes.

Software Engineering in general is a very demanding career path. It is demanding since the pace of change is relentless. Sometimes you feel a bit like that Greek bloke pushing the big boulder up the hill. You can spend years mastering something only to find that what you spent all those years mastering is now completely redundant(<insert dead language/framework here>)

You must effectively give yourself up to a life of study. Most careers you can hope to master in your lifetime, I don’t believe with software engineering this is possible. You are metaphorically running, to stand still.

With studying I definitely find that there are limitations to the amount of knowledge that I can take in without suffering ‘Study Fatigue’. My brain just becomes unresponsive. It literally feels like if I try and push anything more onto my brain stack, important things will start popping off... Mashing knowledge into your thought box is hard and fairly boring.

Now I tell you what makes studying a lot easier. Having definite goals, and the promise of rewards. Now I know a big thing about CloudSpokes of course is the financial rewards. But this isn’t guaranteed, so there must be more to it than that. For me the added extras are the fairly quick turn around on the challenges, and the feedback I can receive. This topped off with the chance to look at other peoples code solving the same problem is great. Staring at other's code can be pretty tedious, but it’s much more interesting when it’s actually solving a problem you are intimately familiar with. It’s not a chore!

To any potential students, I would say that CloudSpokes represents an amazing opportunity to get some concrete experience of real world development. You’ll get peer reviewed, and get real feedback on your efforts. I'm studying a software engineering degree part time and I get a buzz from getting my assignment feedback. This buzz has now been been dwarfed by the excitement that I feel when it’s coming up to CloudSpokes results day. I'm getting feedback, getting paid and getting to experiment with modern technologies. Plus the community atmosphere really makes it feel like you are participating in something, and that your contribution matters.

Friday, March 8, 2013

CloudSpokes March Roadmap

March has kicked off and we've finished up our Sprint planning for the next quarter so we wanted to share with you some new features that we plan on implementing this month.

New WordPress Blog - With the redesign of our site we've decided to switch over to WordPress for a number of reasons. Not only will it have the same look and feel of our site but now we'll have much more control of the publishing process. We are in the process of moving over posts and comments now and should have the new blog up shortly.

New Submission Process - One of the features that didn't make the cut-over to the new site was our improved submission process. This new UI has a drag 'n drop interface for uploading files, in-browser video recording with, easier administration of uploaded assets and more ways for you to tell us about your submission and why it's so awesome.

Advanced Challenge Search - When our new site launched we weren't happy with the advanced search UI and functionality so we went back to the drawing board. Our new redis-backed search is fast and packed with criteria to make finding challenges a breeze.

Challenge Prediction API - Devising a "good" challenge is more black magic than science. Our goal is to structure the requirements, timeline and prize money to receive roughly 2-3 submissions per challenge. We don't want a large number of submissions and have participants with quality applications not take home any prize money. We'd love to pay everyone but we're not made of money ya know! So in January we ran a challenge to use the Google Prediction API to make the probability of getting quality submissions well... more predictable. This should help us help you by producing better challenges.

Challenge Admin UI - One of the things we've wanted to do for some time is to provide a way for members and sponsors to launch and/or edit challenges. We've ran a number of challenges to build the UI and API but it's been tough as our internal processes are always growing and changing. The only constant here at CloudSpokes is change... and lots of it. This is a big goal of ours for this month.

Community Ombudsman - You should be hearing more about this program shortly but in a nutshell it's a way for community members to have a voice and insight into our internal processes.

So there you go... the March CloudSpokes Roadmap. A lot of fun new stuff and even more in April!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I Waza inspired!

Last week I attended Waza, Heroku's annual user conference, with high expectations. This was only the second Waza, but it was the first for me. I have been playing around with Heroku for a while but have not done any big projects until now with the current Wear test series. That being said I really am a big fan of Heroku and was looking forward to it quite a bit. I attended with my conference mate, the exalted Jeff Douglas which is always a real treat. It's not like Dreamforce where people come up and ask for his autograph, but more like walking around with the major of geektown. I have been in IT for a few years now and I have been going to big user conferences for most of them: NUF, Networks, Dreamforce... each one more elaborate than the last. But this one was different.

Walking in the front door the tradtional Japaneese theme is overwhelming. They had two women on a raised platform playing kotos, and pine trees, and more bamboo than the POW sequence of Deerhunter. After walking around for a few minutes I realized that this conference is geared for developers only. Lots of mohawks, piercings and sarcastic geektastic t-shirts. Jeff had his Google Wave t-shirt on so he fit in fine, but I was only sporting a chive shirt, since I left my "I know Jeff Douglas" shirt at the dry cleaners. My wife asked if anybody was wearing a suit and I said only Matt Trifiro the Chief Marketing Officer... but it was purple with pink stripes. We had a few minutes before the keynote so I wandered to the mezzanine. There was a crowd of people around a u-shaped table so I walked up to see what it was all about. To my astonishment it was an Arduino lab with about 8 stations and volunteers walking around to each station answering questions. At this point the roof opened up, the clouds parted, and a bright light shown from the heavens right upon me and that very area. I could hear harps and angels voices. Once I collected my composure and dried my eyes, I asked the guy who had that "main guy look", "What do Arduinos have to do with Heroku?" He smiled and said "Nuthin really, they're cool [pause] actually we have this huge red light in the stairwell at the Heroku offices that an Arduino turns on when the site is down. So I guess Arduinos have a little to do with Heroku". I regaled him with some of my Arduino projects then headed down to the keynote.

Before the keynote, like all other conferences, you expect some C-level to talk about the theme and introduce the speaker. However this was more like the Olympics opening ceremony. They had these two Japanese men on stage in traditional Japanese robes. One started beating a giant kettle drum and and the other hitting a gong. It had the production quality of the pre-battle sequence of [$insert_your_favorite_samurai_movie_here] movie. The jumbo-trons showed a birds-eye-view of a giant white banner that said 'Waza' on the bottom. A traditional dressed Japanese woman came up with a small mop and bent down on the banner in the prostrate positions to bless the event. She then put the mop in the bucket and proceeded to paint two Japanese characters on the sign before it was hoisted high on the stage. Meanwhile the drum and gong are crescendoing and the crowd is going wild. I assume the two characters she had written are "hero" and "haiku", which are the roots for the portmanteau Heroku, but my Japanese is a bit rusty.

Next, Orien Teich comes out and explains how this opening ceremony serves two purposes: One to show that this is an experience that we are all sharing together, and two to highlight a cental Heroku theme that coding is as much about art as anything else.

Next Michale Lopp (@rands) gave his famous speech about 'Stables' and 'Volatiles' which was awesome and humorous. You can gauge the technical prowess (or maybe where they stand on the Stable and Volatile spectrum) of a speaker by the amount of profanity they use in their presentation. Later Linda Liukas (@lindaliukas ) of Code Academy and girl-power Ruby activist read an awesome short children's story about a little girl name Ruby who is friends with the snow leopard and the quirky and particular Penguins. It was quite cute and creative. It made me want to make up my own story about Bash and tell it to my five year old daughter Lily, but I don't know if it will inspire her to be a programmer like Linda's would.

I saw a few more breaks outs, like Rune Madsens (@runemadsen) "Programming in the Visual Arts", where he showed how to replicate famous graphic design patterns with JavaScript. But then I wondered "where are the breaks-out where I learn to deploy my code automatically with Grunt?" Or "what is the best distributed logging platform to use", and I felt a little ripped off. But then I remembered why I like to come to these things.... Inspiration! And man I got that! In Orien's opening remarks he said that this is our time! We are entering an age where the programmer is celebrated and can make an impact on the world. This wasn't a conference for those who are looking to improve the business process via automation. This was a conference that inspired the artist in each of us, and how by tapping the artistic side we can become better developers. I look forward to attending Waza next year and hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Yahoo!, and How Not to Create Value

There's been quite the uproar recently over Yahoo!'s recent announcement to ban all telecommuting for their employees. It's an extremely controversial topic, cutting close to individual's livelihoods, their careers, and their families. It's also a fascinating topic for managers and business leaders looking to drive performance from their teams.

Yesterday morning in TechCrunch, Alex Williams voiced Sir Richard Branson's opinion on the matter:
"However, on this occasion I disagree completely. Many employees who work from home are extremely diligent, get their job done, and get to spend more time with their families. They waste less time commuting and get a better work/life balance. To force everybody to work in offices is old school thinking."
While it's great to hear a counter-opinion to the discussion, especially from one of the world's most wildly successful and brash entrepreneurs, it was the author's follow on comments that struck a chord:
"But the issue is more about the future of work more than anything else. As one commenter said, in the future a lot of people in the workforce will not even have jobs. Instead, they will have projects. It’s a future I feel right at home with. My job is to write about the Internet and all things related to the enterprise."
Avoiding the trivialities of what might be best for Yahoo!, and any other organization for that matter, it's important to take a step back and figure out what's the true crux of this controversial issue.

The real issue at hand is value

Few well-informed leaders would ever make a data-driven decision to not pursue or encourage value. Encouraging value from an individual or team of employees today usually involves deciphering how much value they're creating in return for their compensation. If it was discovered that employees at a certain organization were creating more value when a telecommuting option was available, could you fathom telecommuting being banned? Conversely, if it was discovered that value decreased the more an individual telecommuted, especially at scale, it would be a silly to allow that process to continue.

Fundamentally, the problem lies in the inability to tie how we compensate telecommuting employees to the value they create. Whether Yahoo!’s decision was driven from data that confirmed decreased value from all telecommuting employees, or was simply a broad-stroke across the organization as an attempt to increase the value employees create for their compensation, the end result was simple: get a better handle on how Yahoo! employees spend their time.

This is because in-house workers are paid for their time - not the value they create.

Make no mistake - whether you receive an annual salary or are paid hourly, you are compensated for your time. Coincidentally, any professional who can create value with just a laptop and an internet connection now has a certain freedom. Not every professional in the world can do their duties from a remote location, but certain professionals like journalists, designers, and developers can. What the internet and the age of cloud computing has enabled is an entire remote workforce of the most talented technologists on the planet.

This remote workforce is not a disconnected pool of individuals either. Though recent technology advances have enabled users to contribute remotely, the network that connects these individuals still exists, and it is this network of connected people that truly adds value. Collectively, the input to work (whether it be a team-driven task, a crowdsourced challenge, or an editorial on enterprise computing) is refined through various forms of communication empowered by the same technology that allows people to work remotely. These networks are proven in the open source communities where a highly collaborative situation drives success not just because individuals can work, but the system of contribution enables and accelerates it at scale.

At CloudSpokes we're creating a marketplace that connects businesses that need help - that need value - with this incredibly powerful workforce, this network of remote collaborators. We don't have central offices for our community members. We don't want or need them. We’ve found a way to compensate our members for the value they create, therefore their time belongs to them.

Find out more:

Guest Blog: Back to Basics with CloudSpokes and Meteor.js by @dotNetkow

When we launched our First Time Submitter challenges mid way through last year we hoped they would serve as a an outlet for new members to participate on a fun, open ended challenge to get used to using CloudSpokes, before diving in head first and submitting like mad! We have seen some awesome apps built from these challenges and some of our most active members of recent have been participants of the monthly challenge. Matt Netkow, aka dotnetkow is no different. Matt won our most recent First Time Submitter challenge and was nice enough to write a blog about it for us! Aside from CloudSpokin', Matt loves gaming, movies and being a foodie! Get to know Matt and check out his guest blog below.

Back to Basics with CloudSpokes and Meteor.js

Hi, I’m Matt Netkow, a passionate .NET web developer hailing from Chicago. I’m always learning and applying new technologies to my work; it’s therefore no surprise that I found CloudSpokes, a crowdsourced platform that focuses heavily on web-based development challenges.

I primarily work with C# and ASP.NET, creating various automation tools and web sites for clients. I decided to start off 2013 by focusing on improving my web development skills. With all the new HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript enhancements/libraries coming out, I figured it would be a great time to go back to these core technologies. I’m currently focusing right now on JavaScript. Having just completed some books and training videos, I wanted to actually get a bit of practice with JS. A friend had told me about CloudSpokes a few months prior, so I looked up their current list of challenges.

Sure enough, I found many JavaScript-related challenges, but it was the First Time Submitter Challenge for January 2013 that caught my eye! The “First Time Submitter” challenges are (typically) monthly challenges that are open only to new members of the CloudSpokes community. They present a wonderful opportunity for developers new to the site to get a feel for how challenges work, without the pressure of competing against those that have more experience. I’ve noticed that these challenges have fairly open requirements as well - the one for January 2013 was to build any type of web app using the Meteor.js JavaScript library. I jumped at the change to participate and was later excited to find out that I won 1st place!

So what did I build? Knowing that time was limited, the real challenge was building something useful and polished enough to present real value. Thus, I built a lightweight single page web app used to track the status of projects and created a Youtube video and documentation to support the challenge entry.

Exploring Meteor.js was a lot of fun - in the past I’ve only really used vanilla JavaScript and some JQuery. The neatest feature is definitely the live page updates (templates update automatically when database data changes). There is a definite productivity boost to updating HTML/CSS, saving, and instantly seeing your changes reflected in the browser automatically. In the future this could prove very useful for rapid prototyping web apps!

Interesting code implementation details:

To learn more details and see the Youtube video, please check out my personal blog post here.