Dallas API Hack Day: I won the Mashery Prize for RV Trip Log

Here’s a link to Mashery’s Dev Blog for the Dallas API Hack Day

I had a great time up in Dallas on July 1 for API Hack Day. For those of you who don’t know what API Hack Day is, a bunch of great companies (Twilio, Mashery, and SendGrid) that provide APIs for developers throw an 8-hour hackathon. Improving Enterprises provided an awesome space for us to work out of - their training lab.

Jeff At Dallas API Hack Day

On this trip, I wasn’t sure exactly what to build, but Mashery has a huge collection of APIs, so I thought I could find something interesting in there. Digging around, I found out that Active.com has a camping API, where you can get lists of campgrounds (with photos!) and then reserve them online. On the web, this service is called ReserveAmerica, and it’s actually something I’ve used before for reserving state park campground sites.

What I thought I would do is mash together the campground API with an iPad map, so that you could keep a trip log of the campgrounds you’ve been to on your trip. And then, using SendGrid, go ahead and share that out as an HTML email to your friends and family.



My little RV Trip Log app won the Mashery API prize, and because this was the third time that I’ve won that prize, instead of another JamBox (a very cool Bluetooth speaker system that I now have two of), they sent me a pair of Etymotic ER-4PT MicroPro Headphones!

I’ve done a couple of hackathon type events over the past year (three API Hack Days, XHack 2012 in San Francisco, Austin Startup Weekend, DrupalCon Denver Twilio contest), and I think 8 hours is a great time for a “hack”. No one expects to see something super polished, and if you don’t get anywhere on the project, it’s definitely not the end of the world. The last few that I’ve entered, I’ve actually been trying to focus on iPad development and UX - how to create an iPad app to make really complicated things simple.

XHack 2012 was 24 hours, and I think I actually spent about 4 hours on ViaMeme, my iPad meme generator app. Startup Weekend was 48 hours, but that competition isn’t really a development/execution contest - it’s more about the business model and convincing the judges that you can make money. The biggest problem with that is that most of your potential B2B customers don’t work on the weekends, so it’s tough to validate an idea on a Saturday!