No, this is not the title of a geek gay porn movie. “One laptop, two guys, six days of SXSW” is the best way to condense an awesome experience I had at SXSW. Everything started at the Fort Lauderdale International airport, when, because of a delay, a generous friend decided to buy the first round of beers to kick start the conference in the best of ways. We all know that SXSW means a lot of bar hopping and parties, and this is when the idea sparked: why don’t we build an application to keep track of who owes you drinks?
Lately I’ve been trying to learn Ruby on Rails, so I thought this could be the perfect project to flex my new Rails skill set, so I asked Emmanuel (@jewgonewild) to assist me. We decided that it would be cool to build the entire application on the flight from Fort Lauderdale to Austin so that we could use it during the conference. To be honest, Emmanuel did a little more than assist me. Ok, aside from the design, he built the whole thing. I just set up the basic structure and created a couple of controllers under his vigilance. So far so good, right? There was one small problem: I was the only one with a laptop we could work on. We ended up building the basic functions on the plane but the work continued throughout the conference. And while we had a working alpha version to use between us friends since day 3, the actual version was completed literally on the flight back to Fort Lauderdale (on St. Patrick’s day, how appropriate). It was a great experience, mostly because it shows once again how to build cool stuff (at least cool in my opinion). There really is no need for huge budgets and months of planning. You just need to execute.
So what did we come up with? I’m proud to present to the whole world Tab It Up Alpha (it took us two dinners and nine people to decide on the name). The concept of the application is actually really simple. The user just needs to login using their Twitter credentials (we use oauth to do so), and the app is ready to go. Simply add the twitter handles of the people you are buying drinks for and what type (for now we have “beer,” “wine” and “drink”) and tab it up. On the user page you’ll be able to see your recent activity.
What this really is going to evolve to is a way to find relationships and interesting data through drinks you buy and those that are bought for you. Soon enough we’ll display things like your best friend (who bought you the most drinks) and the people you should avoid (freeloaders). We are planning to add a few more nifty features, and we’ll introduce them in the upcoming weeks.
For now, I hope you will try and enjoy Tab It Up. Please let us know what you think about it.