We just got back from an amazing popup event held in Ireland on June 1st & 2nd. For this one, we brought ‘Spark Haus by Cisco’ to one of Dublin’s most unique venues for two-days of tech talks, demos and a hackathon, featuring the Spark and Tropo APIs. The venue was inside Dogpatch Labs, a co-working facility located in the heart of the historic Dublin Docklands. What’s really unique about this particular event space is it’s located inside a 200-year old redeveloped wine and whiskey vault, downstairs from Dogpatch’s main offices. It was an extraordinary setting to say the least. Our distinguished Technical Marketing Manager for Collaboration APIs, Adam Kalsey, was the MC for the event.
After breakfast on the first day, we started off with some tech talks on the Spark and Tropo APIs, presented by Cisco’s Jonathan Field and yours truly. The sessions were mainly geared towards the developers participating in the hackathon and coding challenges, so they can get familiarized with the technologies. Next, one of our amazing partners, altocloud.com, provided an awesome live demo of how they’ve integrated Spark and Tropo into a solution for insurance agents to provide quotes to visitors online. You can view a short video of Altocloud’s demo here:
After the tech talks concluded in the afternoon, the actual hackathon kicked into high gear. We ended up with four teams in the hackathon, all developing applications using the Spark and/or Tropo APIs. The developers were definitely eager to get coding since the list of prizes to be awarded were very enticing:
- 1st Place Team – 4 x Galaxy Visitor 7 Quadcopters
- 2nd Place Team – 4 x Bose ® SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III – Silver
- 3rd Place Team – 4 x Plantronics Premium Headsets
As a side contest, those who completed some Tropo and Spark coding challenges were awarded a tech gadget (courtesy of Exertis) from a prize grab bag.
On day two, the hackathon teams submitted and presented a demo of their applications. All of the submissions were very creative and quite frankly, some of the most advanced applications we’ve seen at a Spark/Tropo hackathon. The winning submissions are as follows:
Third place went to the “Purple Pi” team, who presented a mobile expense management application. In their app, credit card transactions appear in a Spark conversation, allowing you to categorize expenses, post receipts, and mark each expense as personal or reimbursable.
Second place went to the “Meeting Insights” team. Their application aimed to improve the efficiency of meetings by reminding every attendee and speaker right before their time to talk comes up and provide a text backchannel (using Tropo) for every meeting. The app also automatically judged the mood and the contents of the conversation and posted to the backchannel for archiving.
The grand prize winning team was “Soteria” who put together a very neat real-time collaboration solution for a paperless healthcare application using Spark. The app allows medical providers to discuss a patient’s medical chart and have that discussion automatically update the chart by identifying health-related keywords from the chat.
After the event concluded, we had a hearty celebration aboard the Boat Restaurant & Bar – MV Cill Airne, where a good time was had by all. We received a lot of positive feedback from the attendees and definitely hope to return to Dublin again soon. Many thanks to the Cisco team in the Dublin and Galway offices, who truly helped make this Spark Haus event a successful one!
When you go to production, you want the Tropo Scripting Platform to host your scripts so that you get all the scalability and robustness for free as these lay on Tropo operations’ shoulders, 24/7. This is the best practice to handle heavy workload, and this makes Tropo unique for serious communications business logic.
For that to happen, your scripts are deployed at several locations, and synchronized behind the scenes. This is how Tropo delivers communications worldwide, any mobile phone, any country, bi-directional, both calls and SMS.
When you’re developing, however, you are constantly changing your code, and this distribution feature means that any change to your script will take from a few dozen to hundreds of seconds to be active.
Now, let’s see how to reflect your changes immediately at development time.
Tropo downloads your script from a public web server and executes it on our servers. Each time Tropo runs your app, it will fetch the latest version of your script. So a best practice for development is to host your script on a public address, allowing Tropo to skip the distributing the file across our entire network.
I find it very practical to leverage gists for Developement, here’s how.
- Create a secret gist, with an extension that reflects the language you’re using (Tropo uses this information to run your script on the right env). A secret gist is publicly available, but doesn’t show up in Github’s search, so adds a bit of privacy.
- Grab the URL of your gist, and append /raw/<your-gistname>. For the sake of this example, we’ll go with https://gist.github.com/ObjectIsAdvantag/cc131aab9409f014db22e18e572f722d/raw/gists-can-help-for-tropo-dev.js
- In your Tropo application, reference the URL above. Your changes will be immediately reflected (…or in a matter of seconds).
For a while now, our pricing page has said that our optional feature that allows developers to get transcriptions for a call recording has a cost of 5 cents per minute. In reality we haven’t been passing that cost onto you as we’ve worked to move this from an experimental feature into a production-ready capability.
As of June 1, that will change, and you can expect to see the costs for transcriptions added to your service fees. As advertised, those fees will be 5 cents per minute for each recording that you request a transcription for.
If you’ve been using transcription heavily, this may significantly increase your monthly invoice as transcription is generally more expensive than most of Tropo’s per-minute rates for voice calls. We believe that our ability to provide transcriptions of recorded calls adds value to your Tropo based solutions and checked that the price we charge for transcription is at a fair value in the market.
We are working hard to add new features that make Tropo easier and better to use. Keep watching our blog announcements or follow us on Twitter. Feel free to post comments or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.