On September 8th and 9th, over 100 teams of between 1 and 4 programmers and designers got together to compete in a 48 hour programming competition called the Rails Rumble. The idea was to create the best web application possible in just 48 hours, start to finish. Teams were only allowed to create paper mockups of their design, database diagrams or do other preplanning before the competition started. No coding or designing until the 48 hours officially began.

92 teams succeeded in completing full (or mostly full) applications. After a couple of weeks of peer judging, the winners were announced Friday night at the Ruby East conference keynote.

The Rails Rumble was modeled after the Rails Day competition, which ran last year and in 2005, but not this year. The main difference being that teams had an extra 24 hours for app creation during the Rumble. In my opinion, Rails Day was a bit more fun to watch due to their cool 'spectate' app that let fans watch SVN commits in near real-time -- though you have to be a real geek to think that's fun to watch.


This online checking account management app took 2nd place.

Rails Rumble ran a tight ship, giving every team their own VPS, so that they could be sure all web apps were kept online during voting. What really amazed me is how much can be accomplished by talented programmers and designers in so short a time period. While none of these apps may be quite production ready, many of them are nearly there and display an amount of polish that I believe most people would think is impossible to achieve in just 2 days. I can certainly envision many of these applications being launched as real world companies down the line. They demonstrate just how low the barrier to entry actually is for so much of the web app market.

The Winners

  • First place - TastyPlanner - A rather simple recipe sharing site.
  • Second place - Checkbook - An online checking account management app. I thought this one might win.
  • Third place - Admiteer - Event management and ticket sales. Something like Eventbrite.

Rails Rumble also had a number of category winners.

  • Appearance - Elf List - Online gift list registry.
  • Most Useful - Conduit - Broadcast messages via multiple methods and let subscribers choose how they want to receive them.
  • Most Complete - Invent-A-Story - Collaborative story writing, one sentence at a time.
  • Innovation - SoundBadge - Automatically created, unique 5 second sound signature.
  • Best Solo Project - Irksome - Online IRC client.

Check out the full list of winners, including honorable mentions, and browse through all 92 web apps.

Disclosure: My site, Rails Forum, was a sponsor of Rails Rumble.