It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at FullContact. We started last week with API Hackday at the Microsoft Bing offices in Boulder. A crowd of about 30 developers showed up to spend the entire day building software using various APIs. Tim Falls kicked off the day with a brainstorming session to generate project ideas. Once a few good ideas were on the whiteboard, everyone split off into groups and began developing their apps.
I ended up working on an idea pitched by Bart, our CEO, called Topikly. Topikly lets users create subscription email lists about any topic by simply sending an email to the “topic”@topikly.com, no web interface necessary. The app uses the SendGrid Parse API to receive incoming emails, provision a topic in the database, and establish the original sender as the administrator of the topic. An email is then sent out to the person confirming that a new list has been created. After a topic is registered, all subsequent people who email the “topic”@topikly.com are subscribed to the list, and an introduction email is generated and sent to all subscribers, notifying them that a new user has joined the discussion. We used the FullContact Person API to augment the initial introduction email with the user’s full contact information. To unsubscribe, a user simply sends an email with the subject “unsubscribe” to the list.
We were joined by Alex, a python programmer and fellow API hacker. We ended up using 2 SendGrid API endpoints, and the FullContact email endpoint to implement the entire app. The app is hosted on an Amazon EC2 instance running the LAMP stack. We then used PHP and the CodeIgniter framework to build a a REST endpoint for the SendGrid parse API to communicate with when a new email is received. This simple app really showcases the power of APIs. Without the use of SendGrid and FullContact, the features we implemented in a mere 8 hours would have taken weeks to build.
Other API-Driven Apps
There were a lot of other cool apps built during they day, and each used a different combination of APIs. After the presentations the judges awarded prizes to the participants, including a $750 Apple gift card, a Quadrocopter equipped with video camera, numerous Arduino kits, and of course free API credits for the various APIs represented at the event.
We had a blast at API HackDay and look forward to attending more events in the future. We also recently took part in Defrag 2011 and Startup Weekend Denver. Look for blog posts about these events shortly.