Engineering Update

Here’s something cool: We’ve added support for a few more services and additional API features. With these additions, Singly now offers 15 services in one API.

You can start incorporating data from these services by perusing the docs, checking out the API explorer, or living on the edge and hitting the /services/… endpoint directly. Go ahead, we can’t stop you.

Push Notifications
Singly can let your app know when we discover new data on any authenticated service that matches the parameters you specify. We can post the data to your server for you to handle, or you can simply write some client-side code with Socket.io and forgo the server entirely.

Writable API
Need to store some data custom data but don’t want to manage a whole database? Now you can post any custom JSON to Singly and retrieve it individually for each user. Managing state just got a bit simpler.

Runkeeper
Want to help people work out their fitness data? Use the runkeeper endpoints to access all fitness, strength, and background activities. Records and street team data are available, too.

Yammer
Business is big. Singly can now easily feed your app with users’ contacts and updates from inside their Yammer-enabled company. The information is as complete as what is available on the website, including data for all users in their network  and news going back to the beginning. The user data and updates are also available as universal types under /types/contacts and /types/statuses_feed.

Facebook Likes
Let your users know what they like. Or extrapolate to let them know what they don’t know they like. Anyway, we know you can do something with the /services/facebook/likes endpoint.

That’s all for now. Keep your eye on this blog for future updates. In the meantime, ask any questions in our support chatroom or email support@singly.com. We also want your help deciding what to add next, so head on over to the Singly Uservoice page!

Screen Shot 2012-06-28 at 5.11.49 PM

Our first big hack event was a total success. Here’s how (and why) we did it.

How the Singly App Challenge came about

Six weeks ago, on an unusually balmy Friday afternoon in San Francisco, our team was retrospecting on productivity over some cold beers. We didn’t have a productivity problem, we just wanted to move faster.

“The most productive times at Singly,” Simon, our co-founder, recalled, “were times when we had a forcing function.” We just need a hard deadline, he said.

We decided to go open kimono and show the world our API. Surely we’d bust ass if everyone was going to see what we’ve been building.

That afternoon we created the Singly App Challenge. We all knew that if this was worth doing, then it was worth going all in.

We had a month to make it happen. A month to push our product out, ruthlessly find and fix bugs and bring an enthusiastic crowd together to compete.

This wasn’t going to be a hackathon, we decided. It was going to be a race to build and launch a startup in 48 hours. It was going to be like a Startup Weekend, but without the handbooks and venue guides and planning time and volunteers. It was going to be difficult to pull off.

How we made it happen

The next week, after the hangover of making this bold decision wore off, the impact of our new forcing function was clear. We showed up early, stayed late and ordered so many burritos that we’re convinced El Metate’s share price has surpassed Facebook’s.

The first thing we did is lay out goals and metrics. We wanted 100 participants, 20 apps, comprehensive feedback from attendees and multimedia content for posterity.

From an engineering perspective, we had to have a fully functioning and scalable API. That meant internal hack days, luring our friends in with free food to poke holes in the API and hiring a contract web security team.

We locked in an all-star panel of judges, including Om Malik. We found beautiful venues, thanks to True Ventures and 780 Cafe. We brought our developer docs up to speed. We bought a dozen r/c helicopters to give away. We booked a videographer. We got catering and bought kegs. We hired an army of TaskRabbits. We designed fancier swag. Then, we just needed to get 100 smart, ambitious developers and designers to show up.

Our team is hacker-heavy, and hackers understand GitHub. So we use GitHub for far more than engineering (coming soon: a blog post about how to use GitHub for hiring flow). Needless to say, the Singly App Challenge was a milestone in our marketing repo, and each of the aforementioned details was an issue within that milestone.

As with any free event, we were expecting a large attrition rate – so we were shooting for ~250 signups (we reached 100 only a week before the event). Here are a few ways we got that number up to 250 in the final hours:

    • Featured a guest blog post that made the front page of Hacker News
    • Partnered with Geekli.st and Path.to – who both contacted their wide networks
    • Tweeted (like crazy)
    • Had internal hack days, where we all took the day to build apps on Singly (one app called vacat.io, built by Beau, went a bit viral)
    • Hosted a “Friends of Singly” hack night, where we gave a sneak preview of our API
    • We each emailed three people we know and personally invited them, along with their friends, to the event

What we learned

We learned how much beer is too much. Four kegs, we learned, is too much beer.

We spent the weekend gathering feedback from every attendee, and have just now finished distilling it. We learned what people would like to see from Singly. That said, we also learned that people think Singly is pretty powerful already.

We learned countless details that will go into the planning of our next event. We learned how to get scrappy in reaching out to the community and getting people excited about an App Challenge. We learned that people really dig r/c helicopters.

We learned the power of a forcing function – because we moved pretty damn quickly in the weeks leading up to this event.

Most importantly, we learned this: If you put 100 focused, driven minds in a room for 48 hours, they will impress the hell out of you. We were truly in awe at the quality of work and the range of products that people built. From philanthropic efforts to funny viral apps to fully laid out business models, we were inspired by every team that participated.

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Singly App Challenge – we couldn’t have done this without you. We’ll see you all again soon! (Maybe at our monthly happy hour?)