Dom Sagolla has been a key mover of the iPhoneDevCamp movement since day one. It’s been impressive to have Dom’s energy, enthusiasm and ideas take the iPhoneDevCamp to next level. Throughout the DevCamp, Dom was hard at work, helping folks as well as making progress on his upcoming book. Here are Dom’s responses to some questions I had for him at the camp this year.
The iPhoneDevCamp model offers a winning formula for community collaboration events. It is likely that other technology communities may be able to use this model. What would be your advice to them?
It’s already begun with things like AndroidDevCamp, PreDevCamp, and now “WinMoDevCamp“.
My advice is always this: Make the event all about the participants. When you focus on building teams, polishing ideas, and creating truly compelling demonstrations, you are following the model of BarCamp.
A 10 year old developer won applause as the youngest participant at the DevCamp this year. How do you see the camp inspiring kids in school and in general?
10-year-old Annika has my favorite story this year. Having been dragged along to last year’s event, she made the best of it by reviewing the apps of other participants. This year, she’s created @KidGameReviews and started developing her own games! Annika shows us just how easy it is to get started with iPhone Development. She’s still learning but the growth I’ve witnessed over the past year, in her and in the community, is inspiring.
iPhone is a lens, through which the problems of computer science may be examined. I hope kids of all ages get a chance to play with Apple’s superb example code just to see what’s possible in a few days’ time.
Every year we sponsor a few student participants at iPhoneDevCamp, and we will certainly continue that tradition. Perhaps we’ll add to this a new category of “Youngest iPhone Developer”.
Some apps such as Avatar Wall, winner in Coolest iPhone App category, used Twitter to demonstrate their ideas. What do you think is the impact of social networking services such as Twitter on the type of apps being developed?
Twitter is becoming a communication utility, like other service providers online and in our homes. Seeing the Twitter API in use at iPhoneDevCamp is another sign that social networking is now a fixture in our lives.
iPhone was launched just when Twitter began to gain prominence two years ago. There has been a complimentary arc of growth for both Apple and Twitter since then, and Twitter was profiled as an “Apple Business“.
I see the intersection of iPhone and Twitter as a kind of cultural nexus. The best of breed Twitter apps are on the iPhone / Mac platform, and the most virulent iPhone apps integrate well with Twitter and other social media. The two platforms combined create a vortex of attention and zeal that is driving innovation on both ends.
How does a community event like the iPhoneDevCamp that has grown in popularity every year fit into the iPhone developers ecosystem? How does it complement official (e.g. by Apple) and unofficial (e.g. barcamps) activities?
I like to think of iPhoneDevCamp as a “sister event” to WWDC. Folks go to learn new technologies and talk with Apple engineers at WWDC. Inevitably they are inspired and want to test their knowledge, so we have created iPhoneDevCamp where they can form teams and build things.
The relationship is complimentary: We do our best to schedule around Apple’s events, and stay in contact with them at an informal level.
In the BarCamp tradition, we want to be a model for other Open Source communities to band together, find sponsorship, and field events of their own. I think the Satellites program launched for last year’s iPhoneDevCamp, with double the participation this year, pretty clearly shows our commitment to the BarCamp way.
Your writing project “140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form” sounds exciting. Is there going to be a chapter about using Twitter at the iPhoneDevCamp? You mentioned you’d be gathering some source material for the book at the DevCamp. Did you notice anything interesting about how Twitter was being used by the participants (and organizers)? Tell us more.
140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form (flickr:Sagolla)
I do talk about iPhoneDevCamp in “140 Characters”, yes! Our use of #ipdc3 as a tag this year, as well as a few choice quotes from our performer @BT are profiled: http://bit.ly/140-chars.
iPhoneDevCamp itself formed out of the Twitter community. @Ravenme wrote to @ChrisMessina who posted an inquiry for space, which I picked up because I’d just started following Chris in mid-2007. I replied in public to Chris, he followed me back and the rest is a history of 100% year-on-year growth.
Twitter accelerates small societies.
We did an experiment this year, where we made our Satellite broadcast available via iPhone and iPod touch for the first time. Tweeting that link resulted in about 1000 viewers around the world. That’s how I measure reach: How many people are tuned into your message RIGHT NOW?
I measure impact with action: in the last days of Registration for the camp, we sold out three (3) times. Each time capacity was lifted, we tweeted the Registration link and we were sold out again within hours.
The Twitter community is voracious for learning and real-life connection. Tapping into that has been critical to the success of iPhoneDevCamp and the iPhone Developer community abroad.
What can we expect at DevCamp 4? Any surprises coming up?
Next year: iPhone Jam Band!
Seriously we haven’t talked about plans for next Summer yet. Right now is the time to follow up with all the Satellite communities and see how we can enable more events elsewhere during the year.
We would be thrilled to work with Yahoo! and all of our sponsors again next year, which we know will be yet again bigger.
Dom Sagolla (flickr:Sagolla)
Dom Sagolla helped create Twitter with Jack Dorsey in 2006 then co-founded iPhoneDevCamp with Raven Zachary in 2007 (just a week after the launch of the original iPhone). After helping Raven and the team create the Obama ’08 iPhone App in 2008, Dom started his own company DollarApp in San Francisco, resulting in two Staff Favorites: Big Words and Math Cards. @Dom’s book “140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form” is the subject of his next iPhone invention, shipping this Fall.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Christopher Allen in action at the iPhoneDevCamp since its inception in 2007. Chris has been a superb mentor and open source guru for the iPhoneDevCamp hackathon every year. I’ve felt the energy that this DevCamp hackathon has generated from everyone sharing the experience of building applications together. Here are some questions I asked him after this DevCamp’s phenomenal success. Hope you’ll enjoy reading his responses!
What were your expectations from the iPhoneDevCamp this year? Did the camp meet your expectations?
Last year’s hackathon was a great success, in spite of the SDK being so new we were able to demonstrate over 40 iPhone applications. This year we had 54 apps demonstrated, many of which showed the results of a year’s worth of experience in developing for the SDK. The other big problem last year was the NDA, which prevented sharing — this year I was quite pleased with the number of open source entries, which allows people to learn from others and/or improve. Finally, I really liked the number of designers and non-programmers who participated on teams last year, and I was a little worried that they would be shut out given the popularity of iPhone — yet we continued this year to have a number of teams led by designers and teams made up of programmers new to the iPhone.
Do you see the DevCamp growing, getting smaller, or is it just right?
I write about group size in my blog at www.LifeWithAlacrity.com, so I am certain that iPhoneDevCamp will lose something if it grows too big. One thing that could be lost is the ‘amateur’ component that is so valuable — especially given the origin of the word ‘amateur’ is ‘to love’ the lack of amateurs could lead a certain lack of passion. Amateurs also are less likely to fall into traps of “it can’t be done” or “it can’t be profitable” and just make something new happen because they don’t know their limits.
Which applications did you find most intriguing and innovative from the hackathon?
Quite a few, but I think the Augmented Reality library might see the most use by other application developers. I was also inspired by the father teaching his daughter to make the Bubblo application.
Collaboration, community and coding are core themes of the iPhoneDevCamp hackathon. Can you tell us about a few examples you saw at the DevCamp that demonstrated these themes.
More completely, the list is Contribution, Sharing, Openness, and a “Can Do” attitude. I started giving out tickets Friday evening and Saturday morning when I saw people coding or showing others their code during “outside hours” when other stuff was going on. I gave tickets out when someone would answer a call for help on code, or an icon, etc. I would ask each team what person outside their team helped them most, and then go find that person to give them a ticket. Finally, I gave few tickets out when I spotted obvious signs of enthusiasm and happiness.
With the iPhone being a tightly controlled platform by Apple, how do you see open source apps fitting in?
There were a few others at the conference (in particular some of the staff from Yahoo) who have had experience with other Hackathons which were more open source oriented, and they definitely felt a different vibe due to the commercialism of the iPhone. In my own experience with MacHack and the prior iPhoneDevCamp, open source on the iPhone is much more about teaching and learning rather then sharing and contributing to the commons.
What do you see will be the impact of new technologies like HTML5 on the iPhone?
Clearly 5 years from now you can probably do 90% of the apps today for the iPhone using open technologies like HTML5. In fact, that is the basic premise of the Palm Pre. However, we are not quite there yet, and Microsoft will continue to stall and slow the process of open technologies and we will just have to route around them.
Photo Credit: Christopher Allen
What a weekend at iPhoneDevCamp 3! Community and friends coming together to collaborate, hack code, enjoy great food and soak in the picture perfect weather at Yahoo’s beautiful campus – what else could an open source geek ask for? Here is the group photo of everyone who participated this year.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Dev Camp this year- there were some excellent talks on Saturday. There was plenty of time for hacking and the results of the hackathon were paraded out on Sunday afternoon. Open source and web applications hacked together over the weekend were showcased. Other apps included alpha versions of future App Store products. More than 60 apps were entered for the hackathon and 54 of these were were showcased in the demo session. Chris Allen, guru and mentor for the hackathon along with other judges watched each demo with great attention and afterwards announced the winners in each app category. The winners are listed here.
My congratulations again to Raven Zachary, Christopher Allen and Dom Sagolla – the key movers for making this Dev Camp happen. And thanks to Yahoo! for providing a fantastic venue for everyone to gather and build some innovative web and native iPhone apps. Looking forward to iPhoneDevCamp 4!
The third iPhoneDevCamp kicked off Friday evening at Yahoo!’s scenic campus with an enthusiastic audience and an excellent talk by Chi Hua-Chien’s session on iFund, Kleiner Perkins’ venture fund for iPhone applications. Today started with a great presentation by Andrew Stone on ‘How the NeXT Computer Became the iPhone’. There are at least 400 people now, forming groups to develop their apps. Some are listening to BT, the current speaker who is a musician and DJ who is presenting his iPhone app Sonifi that allows users to remix music. Sonifi also has in-built stutter gestures using the iPhone accelerometer. You can stretch these stutters to extend sections of music which makes it sound metallic. Interesting stuff! After this session, a pizza lunch and four parallel sessions of talks on web and native development tools and techniques are coming up. Time to get back to work on our app for the hackathon!
The third iPhoneDevCamp begins this weekend July 31 to August 2 at Yahoo!’s campus in Sunnyvale. The organizers of iPhoneDevCamp – Raven Zachary, Dom Sagolla, and Chris Allen are hard at work on finalizing the next edition of a star studded event. Developers and companies will come together to showcase and develop applications for iPhone and iPod touch using both the native SDK and web technologies while having great fun at the same time
What’s on the agenda? Lots of cool stuff. Here’s the link. The event starts on Friday evening with a mixer and concert. Saturday and Sunday are hackathon days when you roll-up-your-sleeves, form your team, brainstorm and write your code. As in previous years, the deadline for project submissions is Sunday 2pm. Each team shows off their project app from 2-5 pm. And then come the awards, applause and appreciation from the DevCamp community, which makes it worth every minute you spent at the camp. So, if you’re in the Bay Area this weekend, drop by the Yahoo! campus and join the party. Remember the event is not free this year – registration is $50 and you can register at the iPhoneDevCamp website.
Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent has been organizing a peer-to-peer applications unconference named “CodeCon” in San Francisco since 2002. Pulled together by Bram Cohen and Len Sassaman, the unconference demonstrates bleeding edge software apps and allows programmers to show off their coding prowess.
After a hiatus for a couple of years, Bram has now restarted the conference. Applications that’ll be showcased include effortless BitTorrent deployment with BitTorrent DNA, a distributed transaction layer for Google App Engine, a trend profiler for C/C++, and a parallel web browser for handhelds and multicore laptops. In addition, a BioHack track will demonstrate cool biotechnology apps.
For programmers in the Valley who are interested in the latest peer-to-peer applications, CodeCon definitely is a place to be. CodeCon will be held from April 17-19, 2009 at CellSpace on 2050 Bryant Street in San Francisco. The program can be found here.
Twincling Technology Foundation is organizing a half-day “Ruby on Rails” technology session on March 14th, 2009 in Hyderabad. This session will be conducted by Technetra’s Robert Adkins, an expert developer in Ruby and Ruby on Rails and an active open source contributor.
This tech session will be an introduction and tutorial on Rails.
The session will start with an overview of the Rails system and will look at the diverse community that is making Rails so successful today. It will examine conventional Rails program structure and configuration and will cover database migrations and the three most important components: Active Record, Action Controller, and Action View. It will also discuss integration with CSS and Ajax as well as review topics such as testing, security and performance.
Check for further details about the session and registration at Twincling.
Every year, the hack-a-thon at iPhoneDevCamp is a superb example of collaboration, team effort and hacking code. Chris Allen has been a fantastic mentor for many participants hacking code at the DevCamp and this camp was no exception. This time around, a couple of days of huddling and coding produced some amazing results – 44 iPhone applications based on big ideas and small ideas from open source dev tools to games and social apps. The hack-a-thon brought together teams of people who had never met each other before the conference started. Two days of intense collaboration, communication and coding (sounds like open source doesn’t it!) culminated in demos of these applications that were judged by a panel of experts for categories of best 90 minute app, best open source app, coolest app, most useful app, best developer tool, most educational app, best social app, best game, best web app. Our team of five worked on developing a multiplayer version of “Rock, Scissors, Paper” and appropriately named it RSPRoyale. Our team gave a good demo. We plan to work further on the app and hopefully make it available through the iTunes AppStore. The unconference happening simultaneously had a lot of interesting talks as well. By the evening, once the demos were conducted, the best apps in each contest category were announced and awarded some cool prizes – an iPhone 3G, a 17-inch MacBook Pro, JBL speakers, VMWare Fusion, Adobe Dreamweaver CS3, Apple Store gift certificates. A group photo of the DevCamp community with the satellite groups visible online on the background screens was one of the highlights of the whole event. I congratulate the organizers (Raven, Dom, Chris, Blake) who put this camp together and the community. It was a great experience of team building, some serious coding and lots of fun.
August 1 Evening: The camp started with more than 300 people attending the opening session on Friday evening to get started. People discussed app ideas, development plans and formed teams. iPhone users ranging from developers to user interface specialists and even photographers joined in to brainstorm. The organizing team (thanks Raven & Dom), volunteers and Adobe staff were exceptionally helpful to participants coming in. A lot of energy and high spirits. I was impressed with the number of sponsors (60+ sponsors) and supporters for the DevCamp, all interested in encouraging this open community around the iPhone phenomenon.
August 2 Morning: It is Saturday morning now and the DevCamp is already buzzing with activity. After breakfast, sponsors were introduced briefly by Raven and Dominic. Right now, the keynote forum with Merlin Mann is in progress. Mann, introduced as a “maker of fun” and iPhone evangelist, talked about the excitement the iPhone has generated and a major itch to scratch according to him has been “email”. Mike Lee of Tapulous and Brian Fling of Leaflets are the other two keynoters. Fling talked about the new version of Safari and leveraging the latest features to build interfaces for the iPhone. When the panel was asked about the some of the killer apps that make the iPhone really worthwhile, they listed Surfline.com, iChat, Twitterific, Games, Safari and Remote. The keynoters also discussed about were killer interactions that make iPhone apps highly usable, user habits (i.e. how do users use the iPhone vs. iPod / iTouch), interactivity of web apps and making UIs friendly and usable on iPhones. Usability suggestions included not having to scroll up and down unnecessarily, having short sequences to perform actions, remove splash screens from apps, not using video on splash screens especially on games. The last part of the forum is Q&A between the participants and keynoters. Interestingly, user interfaces that got flagged by users as needing improvement for iPhone like interfaces included Amazon.com, and some Google services.
The iPhone 3G was launched on July 11 (only 20 days ago) and Apple sold a million units in the first 3 days. I got my 3G on launch day. And this time the lines were even longer (cheaper phone, more demand) while unlucky customers faced a network infrastructure jammed with simultaneous requests to set up AT&T contracts for each phone. Despite initial difficulties, iPhone fans persevered and got their shiny new objects.
And those fans who hack are ready for this weekend’s iPhoneDevCamp 2 in San Francisco. This year’s organizers — Raven, Dom, Chris, Blake — have done a phenomenal job pulling in sponsors and handling logistics, volunteers, speakers and developers.
Developers, testers and hackers will gather at Adobe’s offices tomorrow to start designing and building code for the iPhone and iTouch through the weekend. They’ll use the iPhone’s SDK as well as web technologies to build cool iPhone friendly apps. A hackathon contest will be held on Saturday and Sunday (August 2-3) to promote open source community values of sharing, contributing and openness while churning out some serious code. At the end of the contest on Sunday, each app will be demonstrated and qualified participants will win cool prizes. I can tell you from experience, the prizes are really neat (developers even won iPhones last year).
To top it off, the excitement doesn’t stop in San Francisco. With satellite events happening concurrently in Austin, Chicago, Colorado, Portland and Seattle and internationally in London, Paris and India (Yeh!) , this weekend will buzz with activity.
Can’t wait to see the fun begin tomorrow evening! See you there.