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Monday, June 18, 2012

Ich bin ein Evangelist

We received a nice writeup in the API Evangelist blog the other day. (If you don't follow Kin's writing, you should. He's on top of his game when it comes to API technologies and API-driven business models.) The post talks about everyone in API-driven companies being a developer evangelist.

That's certainly true for us given's business. Our reason for being is to provide developers with dead simple access to hosted processing, messaging, caching, and scheduling services via APIs and client libraries.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Best Practices: Parallel Processing Emails, SMS, and Other Notifications

Emails, texts, and other notifications are critical for engaging with customers. No matter what form they take – alerts, daily summaries, weekly updates, special notices, or monthly newsletters – emails and notifications keep your customers informed, provide them with core services, and help drive revenue.

We recently launched a Solutions section on ways to use services to do some big things. This is the second of a series of posts on the use cases shown there.
These notifications come in a growing number of formats delivered across an expanding set of client/message types. Many are triggered by user actions – whether based on a user’s schedule (2 days after signup) or their activity (after they bounce from a shopping cart). And they are increasingly being personalized, whether it’s a report of daily activity or recommendations and offers created specifically for each user.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Powerful Email Infrastructure with IronWorker, ActionMailer, and SendGrid

Against most predictions, email has stood the test of time and remains one of the most common and effective forms of communication. This is particularly true in the world of web applications where the flow of information from app to user is constant.

Ruby on Rails is one of the leading stack choices for building web applications, and ActionMailer is the goto MVC method that allows the app to interact with an SMTP server to deliver email. ActionMailer combined with a great SMTP delivery service like SendGrid, lets developers quickly and easily deliver email from inside their apps.

ActionMailer, IronWorker, and SendGrid can now be used together to build a very powerful and scalable email platform. IronWorker adds parallelization of delivery to greatly reduce the time it takes to deliver your email as well as scheduling capability to SendGrid.

This tutorial describes how to use your ActionMailer templates along with IronWorker and SendGrid to build a powerful, scalable email infrastructure.

Monday, June 11, 2012 + xHack = Grand Prize Winner

Congrats to Talk to the Future, winner of the $5000 grand prize at xHack 2012 (#xhack)! A one-person team built it using Heroku, Twilio, and

It makes use of the scheduling capabilities in IronWorker to schedule calls, videos, emails, and other notifications to your future self. It's up and running and you can see it at

The prize, a GoPro HD camera, was awarded to the Healthify team. Healthify used hundreds of workers in parallel to retrieve 10s of thousands of tweets very quickly, analyze them, and then map them in Google Maps to geo-locate clusters of like references, potential outbreaks, and more. They also did some nifty browser hacks to display interactive maps within All by a 2-person team in 24 hours. Very cool stuff!

The other teams did some amazing work as well. RadiumOne and were terrific hosts. All in all, a great event and we were thrilled to be a part of it.

Check out our G+ page for some more pictures of the event.

Grand Prize Winner at the xHack 2012 Hackathon
(built using Heroku, Twilio, and

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spikability - An Application's Ability to Handle Unknown and/or Inconsistent Load

Neo Handling Load
I've been in many conversations recently about how an application can handle spiky behavior. More importantly, how to handle it without a bunch of wasted resources that sit idle most of the time just to handle the spikes. There are a bunch of applications where this is a very typical use case, for instance:

  • A blogging application may experience spikes on every post that goes out. 
  • A daily deal site like Groupon or One Kings Lane experience HUGE spikes whenever a new product is posted. One Kings Lane has the benefit of knowing exactly what time it will happen each day though: 8am every morning. 
Let's use the daily deal site for our examples because it is a well known problem for them. 

Monday, June 4, 2012 + xHack is excited to be a sponsor of xHack 2012, a pretty cool hackathon in San Francisco June 8-10th. It's called "Hack to the Future" and, yes, it's going after a certain Back to the Future vibe.

Many of the API partners are centered around photo, video, audio, social and geo-location and so the hacks are sure to be rich in digital media and mobile awesomeness.

The Prize for Best in Show is a $5000 cash award plus there's a $1000 People’s Choice award. We're giving away Go Pro HD Hero2 camera for the best solution using APIs. (It's only fitting given we're expecting developers to make use of the image processing solution we recently highlighted on our solutions page.)