Nicolas Alpi, Web developer

A blog about productivity, startups and me.

Analyse of a Disaster

Three days ago I was writting about my excitement for this year RailsRumble, so why did I decided on Sunday morning to just gave up.
I mean, it wasn’t just a temporary frustration due to lack of sleep and too much Redbull, that was really hitting the wall so hard that I could not stand up again.
Let me try to analyse this unexpected failure.


First let’s go back to my project idea. This is an idea I had few months back, having a API and a dashboard helping project developers to manage their invitation system.
You would be able to create invites, via the API or the dashboard, redeem invites and so track registered users, where they came from, enabling virality, having limited and unlimited invite code for your different invite streams, well a lot of things!
Ho and obviously, for me to be happy, the project would have a nice and appealing public design + a nice dashboard design.
And, a user could manage different projects
And … so on and so on.
I really like the idea, and those who knows me can testify that I’ve put a lot of preparation in this idea.

To big, to fast

I think my first mistake is that I was having a so clear idea of what I wanted to achieve, that I forgot about the 48 hours limit.

My expectations where way to high for this contest, and I could not imagine to deploy a half done project. Maybe I should have, after all you can’t do everything in 48 hours.

Also, when the competition started, I went directly to VIM and started writing all my tests and all my code for the models and a little bit for the controllers, so after 20 hours I was having all the application backbend ready. No views, no design but the backbend.
I didn’t step back when writing my code, I was on the urge of finishing my app as fast as possible, and I didn’t see the wall coming.

The wall

Despite all my preparation, mockups, db schema and so on, I’ve made a very strong mistake, something that after 24 hours would have requires me at least 5 hours code changes if I wanted to have everything working as expected.
At this point I tried to remove features that I knew would have been affected by this problem, but to be honest there was no so much left.
I tried to review my initial plan, moved to not having public website but only an admin section, with a demo application, but well, I was very angry at myself about this stupid mistake, and could not continue anything else but ranting.

Giving up, and after

So I decided to gave up, I shut down the webserver, and went to bed. I can tell you that, when your competing, it’s a really hard decision to give up. And you spend the rest of your day thinking if that was the right decision, and if you shouldn’t have continued instead.
In 3 years of rumbling it’s the first time I give up, and I hope I’ll never do fail again.

Learn from your mistakes they say …

I forgot what was the Rails Rumble

In addition, I think that I forgot very strong parameter: I forgot what was the Rails Rumble.
I forgot how (nicely) intense it was, I forgot that you can’t do everything in 48 hours.
But must of all, I forgot it was all about fun. It’s fun to code, it’s fun to give birth to an application in 48 hours, but I put too much pressure on myself for this one.
I wanted my application ready to use, nearly “perfect”, with this “whaou” effect for the guys who will go on the website and register.

So and now

Well, I still belive that Launchanalytics is a good idea, it was certainly to big to be created during the Rumble, but a beta version will be released soon. Maybe in the next 2 or 3 weeks.
Besides that, I’ll learn from my failure and will be back next year, for this awesome competition.
I’m sure that next year I’ll choose a much more manageable project, and why not, this time, try to do it with a team.
Thanks a lot to all the RailsRumble organisers, you make this competition as awesome as it can be!
Congratulation to everyone who participated, and good luck for the voting period now.

You can have a look to all the awesome applications that were created at