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Tropo Powers PennApps Mobile Winner

Posted on January 28, 2011 by Adam Kalsey

The recent PennApps Mobile competition, held at the University of Pennsylvania on January 14th through the 16th, brought together teams of students to work on the next generation of mobile applications.

Tropo was proud to be a sponsor of this event, and equally proud to see one of the event standouts use the Tropo platform.

A team of four Penn Computer Science Students (Lu Chen, Matt Croop, Gary Menezes and Ryan Menezes) used Tropo to build the Decider, one of the winners of the PennApps event with an interesting take on the contest theme – Serendipity.

We talked with the team to find out more about their project, and why they selected Tropo.

Briefly describe your project – what is it, what does it do?

What should we do tonight: watch a movie or play board games? Should I pull an all-nighter or get some sleep? These five desserts on the menu all look delicious… Which one should I order?

Instead of flipping a coin, why not let a stranger decide?

We used Tropo to build the Decider, which anonymously sends your question to a randomly chosen stranger who decides for you. You can send questions over SMS and IM, or with our Android app.

What technologies does your project use?

Decider is written in Python, hosted on Google App Engine, and reliant on Tropo’s WebAPI library for all of its SMS and IM needs. The Android app is built with Java.

Explain your decision to use the Tropo platform. Why did you choose Tropo?

We first considered Tropo because the demo given at the event convinced us that using it would be simple and free. A big bonus was the ability to seamlessly tie in IM: our original intent was to just handle SMS, but adding IM support was effortless.

Finally, Tropo’s scripting made it easy to quickly debug and test, while WebAPI gave us a lot of flexibility in choosing a backend.

What did you like best about using Tropo?

Tropo made it terrifically easy to get started. Even though we had no experience with messaging technologies, it took our team of four less than 6 hours to sign up, learn WebAPI, deploy an app, and test it over chat and sms. The docs and sample code were excellent.

What are your future plans? Any plans to take the project to a wider audience?

Right now, we still think of the Decider as a fun experiment — we aren’t actively searching for users, but we’ll definitely keep it up to speed as more people join.

This smart, talented bunch has a bright future.

We at Tropo wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors and hope that our paths cross again soon.

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