Webreakstuff blog

About Melee (part 2 of 2)

Part 2: From Single to Multi user

In our previous post, we talked about we modeled our app to make Backbone and Redis integration as seamlessly as possible. Now as we develop our app and start adding it’s vital organs around the skeleton (backbone?) we designed, we need to keep in mind our end goal as we develop the basic “Single User” version, since everyone hates to refactor code.

In this post, we will do a step by step of how to transform that prototype version of the app into something people can actually use. In order to do that, we’ll look under the hood and check out Backbone, Redis, Node.js, Socket.IO and how everything is glued up together.

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About Melee (part 1 of 2)

Let me introduce you to Melee. Melee is a collaborative brainstorming application. The idea (and implementation) for it dates back a few years (literally 2 years) and the reason we choose to unearth this relic is simple: we noticed that over the years, we had lots of promising ideas and internal tools that were left unfinished, so we’ve recently decided that wasn’t going to happen again and also that some of those ideas actually deserved to be finished, even if that meant only releasing a prototype and posting something (hopefully interesting) about it.

Keep on reading to learn about the story and the technology behind Melee!

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iOS Image Recognition and more

Here at Webreakstuff we love fiddling with new technologies and sometimes we just have to come up with an idea to take advantage of some new shiny framework or language.

It’s great because it’s really motivating to work with a new technology and by doing so implementing an idea of our own. Not to mention that regardless the idea turns out to be great or break, the learning experience will always pay off!

A few months ago, when we launched Bling, we felt that it would be amazing if we could improve the user experience by auto-magically recognising products just by the picture. We did some study on that subject back then, but eventually the idea was abandoned and we moved on. The “problem” was that we didn’t forget about what we learned back then and we had the urge to still build something with that knowledge, still lingering inside our heads…

Last week Fábio tweeted about 2 things he’s been working on lately:

  • An iOS app for recognising Magic: The Gathering cards and tell the user relevant information about said cards (like price, for example).
  • A blogging engine he built based on Meteor.js.

If you’ve ever wondered about ways to handle image recognition on iOS, or you are curious about the practical application of Meteor as a web development framework, you should check out his blog and the post about image recognition. The iOS app isn’t finished yet, but it will be soon.

After all this, we feel like we need to tell you: Try new things. Build new stuff. Even if you’re working on a corporate environment, talk to your boss / manager / superior and suggest that once every 2 weeks everyone takes a half a day to just brainstorm an idea and pick a new technology they are curious about and just hack away.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an idea completely out of scope of your business area (in fact, it’s even better if it is!) and it doesn’t matter if the ideas actually go through till the end. The point is widening your mind’s eye. Learn. New. Stuff.

You’ll feel like when you were a kid and you built your first original creation out of lego blocks.

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Every other day, here at Webreakstuff, we have an idea for an app. Most of the time it’s a web or mobile app, other times it’s a game or even a physical product. These ideas may solve a problem or be completely useless. The majority of them is briefly mentioned and soon forgotten. Others though, mingle in our minds for a while and turn into real products (Bling was one of these).

This week we felt like something was missing to maintain the team productive and communicating efficiently. We needed a simple way to keep everyone in sync without causing too much of a hassle. We figured that the solution would be a very simple app which allowed everyone to sum up their work day in a few sentences, kind of like a tweet about your output for the day.

We put on our Rails cap and made log(r) in a few hours – never mind the name, we really suck at that.

After trying it out for a few days we really like using it. In a couple of minutes it makes you go over the whole day in your head and compact it into a small textarea for others to read. You can think of it as an agile version of the 15-5 feedback report. On that same screen you have all your teammates’ reports. It also reminds you by email if you forget to log your day.

We decided to open up the app for everyone to use, so we had to make a few changes, like adding teams and timezone settings (oh, the dreadful timezones!), while trying to keep the app super simple.

Give it a spin at logr.webreakstuff.com, get your workmates on it and let us know what you think!

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