Why We’re Excited for Twilio Signal
1) Love talking about how bots, WebRTC, and IoT are changing the way we communicate? We do too! Not only do we love talking about it, we love developing apps and bots that help us communicate better (or at least in more fun ways), both as a company and with our community. We’d love to hear what you’re doing that’s different and cool.
2) We want to show off our Zap. Let’s get real. APIs are the star of this event, with Twilio’s coming out on top. We’ve recently linked SparkPost and Twilio, because they really are better together. With this Zap, every new SMS message received by your chosen Twilio message will automatically trigger an email notification from SparkPost.
3) Our killer limited edition client library stickers. We’ve got 8 awesome client libraries to show off, and now the stickers to go along with them! From the famous elePHPant to the purplish hues of Elixir, we’ve got one for each of them. Choose your language and represent with pride!
4) Last but not least, we want to meet you! The thing we love most about conferences is being able to meet all of you face-to-face and get direct feedback on what you love about SparkPost, as well as what we could be doing better. Our product is better because of your ideas, and we want to hear them!
So come find us Tuesday and Wednesday, May 24-25, in the expo hall. We’ll be there from 8:00 am – 7:30 pm both days. Come on by to talk shop, grab some new swag, pick up the sticker to represent your client library pride, and get a tour of the latest features.
Can’t make it to Twilio Signal? You can still build awesome things with the SparkPost API! Be sure to check out our client libraries, support docs, and more resources at the Developer Hub, and don’t forget to join our community Slack group! We hope to see you at an event in the near future.
Community Manager, SparkPost
This last weekend we sponsored Bitcamp, held at the University of Maryland, and in my opinion, it was one of the best hackathons we’ve ever attended! Now would be the right time to disclose my bias: I was a Bitcamp organizer in college. So having my first experience on the other side of the sponsor booth be at my favorite hackathon, was truly special.
It was also a significant event for our Developer Advocacy team. SparkPost has sponsored small to midsized hackathons in the past, but this was our first delve into the larger student-run events, and we came prepared!
We started Friday night off by giving away tons of swag, including the limited-edition SparkPost Bitcamp stickers.
These were such a hit with the hackers that we’re in the process of creating limited-edition stickers for other events! Come see us at one of our next events to get yourself one.
On Saturday, we brought in a slushy machine and served Monster Energy slushies (there was a fruit punch flavor for those who had actually slept).
Handing out swag and raffling off prizes is always a fun time, but what made the event really worthwhile was being able to help students with their projects. Throughout the weekend, we had six SparkPost engineers answering questions and mentoring hackers. Nothing took me back to hackathon participant times like debugging a node.js app at 3 AM on Friday night! We even got a shout-out from one of the hackers on Twitter.
Whether hackers built their projects with SparkPost in mind or quickly incorporated, we got a lot of great submissions for our challenge. The deliberation was tough, but Piggy Pennies walked away as the winners of the SparkPost Challenge, with $500 in Visa gift cards. Piggy Pennies allows you to automatically round up the change of your purchases in order to save money towards a common goal with friends. The team leveraged the Capital One API (available only at hackathons) to process financial transactions, and used SparkPost Transmissions and Templates to deliver detailed updates and reports on the group’s goals. The team also implemented ways to trigger money transfers by replying to the reports using our Inbound Relay Webhooks.
The rest of the challenge submissions were amazing too — 6 of them won major prizes from other sponsors as well. They were so cool we had to pick two honorable mentions to send to extra swag to. Contap took a new approach to the “tap phones to exchange info” concept, by automatically starting an email intro and implementing Amazon Echo Alexa reminders to contact the person. The second honorable mention was part of a surprising amount of hardware heavy submissions. Fireberry Pi used sensors and a RaspberryPi to send a warning text message including a picture of the room when gas levels were too high. This team was particularly crafty, figuring out how to use carrier email to sms gateways to send a text messages using SparkPost.
Bitcamp’s theme this year was “Explore new grounds,” and I can confidently say the SparkPost team did just that. It was a great place to meet up with such a large number of developers at varying stages of experience and skill levels. We got really valuable feedback on our product and even met a participant who had recently published a SparkPost Cake-PHP Library!. Thank you to Bitcamp for putting together such a creative atmosphere. Thank you to all the hackers, we hope to see you again soon.
If you’ve ever attended a 1500+ person conference and tried to meet as many people as you can during that time, you’ll understand what our experience at Fluent Conf 2016 was like! Two weeks ago, a handful of us from the SparkPost Dev team had the opportunity to show off the SparkPost API, walk people through our various client libraries, explain webhooks and inbound routes, and in general remind folks just how important email is to their company’s day-to-day functionality.
We spoke with front-end web developers, software engineers, CTOs, and founders alike, and walked away with valuable feedback about our product and how we can even better serve our community.
Last but not least, I had the chance to speak at Ignite on Tuesday night. While most of the conversations at the conference revolved around monitoring, security, and website performance, my talk focused on monitoring those of us who are responsible for those things. So often, we push ourselves to get everything “just right” at work, monitoring every angle so as to ensure the best performance, but we fail to take a step back and make sure that we’re monitoring ourselves. Keep an eye out for the video on O’Reilly’s Youtube channel.
Missed talking to us at Fluent but want to see us on the road sometime soon? We’ll be hacking away at bitcamp in just a few weeks and then heading back to San Francisco for Twilio’s Signal Conference. Then it’s off to Kansas City, MO for Kansas City Developer Conference in June. As always, keep an eye on our Developer Hub to see where we’ll be next. In the meantime, come hang out with us in Slack.
Community Manager, SparkPost
Developer Week Recap
Last week was a whirlwind of shaking hands, making connections, and building awesome things! From early Saturday morning until late Wednesday night, we talked to Developer Week attendees. The focus? What makes SparkPost different, how to use our awesome API, and why we’re the top choice for an email delivery platform. Here are a few of the highlights:
The energy at the Galvanize co-working space was electric. With so many teams working on such amazing apps, we felt privileged that so many chose to work with us! We had teams building everything. From an app to manage food truck orders (for both vendors and customers), to a service that uses IBM’s Watson to analyze the tone of your emails before you hit send. Everyone could use a feature like that some days, am I right? Another team used our data and analytics UI to store webhooks and campaign data in order to easily re-send an email. The most innovative use of SparkPost however, was DwellWell.
Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time in San Francisco (or anyone who pays attention to the housing market), knows that one of the biggest problems here is a lack of affordable housing. There are several hoops to jump through to gain access to affordable housing, one of them being a mountain of paperwork. The DwellWell team, led by Marlon Frausto, built an app that enables applicants to complete their paperwork online, rather than making a trek downtown to deal with lines in person. The team did their research ahead of time, to gather all requirements for the affordable housing application process. Using SparkPost’s API, they built out a double-blind email system that allows people to inquire about a specific housing options. In addition to solving other problems, this gives applicants the anonymity they’re often wanting, but unable to have throughout the older process.
As they continue to build out the application and work with the city housing authority, we’ll be following their story and supporting their use of SparkPost.
Dev Week Expo
Tuesday and Wednesday were the Developer Week Conference & Expo, inside the beautiful Pier 27 Cruise Ship Terminal. While we didn’t spend any time on a cruise ship, we did get to interact with several hundred attendees from all over the globe. We got great feedback on our API and had more interesting conversations about the various ways SparkPost can be used. Best of all, we got to see people get excited about building something awesome!
San Francisco’s largest tech event of the year, Developer Week, is back and we’re proud to be sponsors! Developer Week is an intense seven days of events, including a hackathon attended by 1000+ developers, a conference with more than 13 tracks, congresses, and forums, and last but not least, a fantastic expo hall.
Come find us on Saturday at the hackathon to kick off your weekend in style. Join other passionate developers who will be building applications with some of the best APIs in the business! We’ll be giving a brief demo on the main stage first thing that morning and you won’t want to miss our expanded demo at 12:00 where we’ll dig into our inbound relay and break down our sample app. Given that it’s Valentine’s Day weekend, we’ll be riffing off the idea of compassion and love… we can’t wait to show off what we have in store for you!
After the demos, you’ll have a chance to work on your apps and integrate with SparkPost’s API to build something awesome. Interested in winning one of our three challenges? We’ll be giving away nearly $10,000 in cash and prizes to the teams that demonstrate the best uses of our inbound email relay, analytics, and Heroku/SparkPost integration. Be creative, impress us, and most importantly, have some fun! One of our mottos here is “Build Something Awesome!” and we want to help you do just that.
If you can’t make the hackathon, don’t worry – we’ll be at the expo hall Tuesday-Wednesday handing out swag, talking to folks, and walking people through everything new and improved about the best cloud-based email delivery service around!