May 18, 2007

Posted by John

Tagged presentation and railsconf

Older: Friday Keynote

Newer: Friday: Going Off The Grid

Friday: Building Community Driven Apps

By Dan Benjamin

  • Start something
    • Rails is ideal platform for web 2.0
      • fast prototyping
      • no wasted work, prototype becomes product


  • 500 users in first 2 or 3 hours
  • 20,000 in first month
  • cork’d was just acquired

The steps

  • Make a plan
    • good idea != successful, make a plan
  • Start small
    • showed his mac mini in a cabinet, they started with that
  • Stay agile: resist big infrastructure
    • focus on the app, not on the hosting
  • Build the right team
    • keep it small and don’t invite everyone to help
  • Determine ownership
    • Don’t just do 50/50
  • Have a revenue stream (ad’s don’t count)
    • think of your app like a business
  • Focus on simplicity
    • pictures of ipod
    • don’t build 50 features, instead, build 10 features; then people can only say that it doesn’t do something, not that it sucks at something
  • Don’t release a public beta
    • cork’d came out as a 1.0 beta
    • did a private beta of just friends
  • Know your audience
    • they learned a ton from the private betas
    • even better than knowing is actually being your audience
  • Build the app: The days of only being a programmer and not being a designer are gone, you have to do some of both
    • Think like a designer
    • Consider the data
      • Avoid big migrations
      • user entered data == bad!
      • “you’d be suprised how many different ways users spell california”
      • normalized data == good
    • Collaborate
      • common rails collaberation tools (svn, capistrano, campfire, basecamp, lighthouse)
      • collaborate in real time
      • they (dan benjamin and dan cederholm) met face to face in the airport when someone wanted to acquire them
      • use plugins (ym4r geocode, open_id_authentication, exception_notification, tagging, attachment_fu)
    • Take “Code Vacations”
  • Get noticed
    • “It’s google’s world, we just live in it.” – Quannon Au
    • use smart urls (increase usability and help googe)
    • leverage your markup (meta description, google does actually use meta tags, they like sentance descriptions, commas, capitalization, etc.)
  • Recruit Members – make it obvious and really easy to signup
    • Ask only what’s truly necessary
      • who get’s it right (cork’d, twitter, stikkit)
      • ask for everything but only require what is necessary
    • Limit non-members
      • youtube shows user links when you’re not signed in
      • show users what they could do but don’t let them until they create an account
    • Keep them coming back for more
      • make frequent improvements, not massive version changes
      • respond positively to your members
  • Create a developer network
    • Share your api
  • Find good parters
  • Just ship it

“If you do things right, people won’t know you’ve done anything at all.” -Futurama

This was a great, practical session. Nothing earth shattering but good reminders and a few great tips.

1 Comment

  1. Patrick Berkeley Patrick Berkeley

    May 18, 2007

    Thanks for the notes. Went to Clean Code instead, but this one looks like it was great!

Sorry, comments are closed for this article to ease the burden of pruning spam.


Authored by John Nunemaker (Noo-neh-maker), a programmer who has fallen deeply in love with Ruby. Learn More.


Release your software more often with fewer problems.
Flip your features.