Building a Social Enterprise Application in Under 24 Hours

July 6th, 2007 26 Comments

oif.pngPaul, Jake and I were chatting a few weeks ago wondering how we can establish an ongoing dialog with our peers in product strategy and capture the innovative ideas they have for our future products. We thought of several ways to do this:

  1. Having conference calls to exchange ideas on a regular basis
  2. Inviting our peers to collaborate on a Google doc
  3. Build a simple website to track their ideas

Obviously, 1 and 2 are bad ideas, so we opted for 3. What we needed was a site where people can submit their ideas, tag them, have them be rated by their peers, and allow comments to be entered. I like to call it “The Wall” — throw your ideas up on the wall and see if they stick… the community will decide. The real name of the site is “IdeaFactory”. A pretty simple site, really. It follows the same principles as most Web 2.0 sites today — folksonomies and feedback systems (ratings/comments) to facilitate community building. So, that night I set out to build it.

As you know, I’m a rails fanboy now and so building it with RoR was a no brainer for me. I already knew that there were rails plugins for most of the features we needed (tagging, comments, search, etc.) My job would be to just tie them all together. To start, I gathered together the best plugins I knew about to build this site (I used agilewebdevelopment.com to help me). I ended up with these plugins:

The beauty of using rails is that over the past few years, it’s become a popular choice for building “2.0” style apps. And so, lots of the features of a “2.0” style web application have been turned into rails plugins which makes building stuff with those features dirt simple. It’s also a framework that has a huge (and growing) community of developers who love to share their knowledge and code.

When I started building the IdeaFactory, I had no idea that I would have a working version within 24 hours with all the key feature (tagging, ratings, comments, and LDAP auth). I’ve built a few rails apps before this one, but none that were really that interesting. The IdeaFactory is something that was interesting because it was badly needed by our teams — too many ideas weren’t being shared and critiqued by the general Oracle ecosystem. So, we knew that if we built the IdeaFactory, it would get used a fair bit and would help Oracle product strategists be more collaborative.

I started coding on a Thursday night and by mid-day Friday morning, I had the general pieces in place so that data can be entered. On Friday afternoon, I requested a new hostname (http://ideas.us.oracle.com — intranet) which came alive by Saturday. I made a few enhancements over Saturday and Sunday and by Monday, the site was live! Since then, the site’s taken off (thanks to the additional boost by Justin). It’s become such a popular site internally, that there’s talk of putting together a public facing IdeaFactory site for Oracle customers — I’m hoping that happens.

While many of us in development have been used to the whole process of requirements gathering, writing a BRD (business requirements doc), FDD (functional design doc), and TDD (technical design doc) — which I’m intimately used to doing over the years, it’s refreshing to be able to just roll up my sleeves and start building something and have a working product within hours of starting.

I can’t wait for my next project. Stay tuned… you’ll hear about it here.


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26 Responses to “Building a Social Enterprise Application in Under 24 Hours”

  1. Speaker City Says:

    Oracle AppsLab » Building a Social Enterprise Application in Under 24 Hours

  2. ideablogs Says:

    Some dudes at Oracle’sAppsLabclaim to have built their own ideablog application – called IdeaFactory – in under 24 hours. I don’t doubt them, it’s just that it’s being used on the Oracle intranet so I don’t have access to it. The screenshot attached gives some idea of what it

  3. YNNO Research Says:

    start of an idea twitter is fantastic, for the second phase of an idea twitter is to simple. But here is the great part, Twitter is open as all apps should be. Why not combine the simple but great Twitter funcionality and the functions of a site likeIdeaFactoryor IdeaExchange. Both being based of sites like digg. And start the discussion and rating of an idea over there. All the content about the idea is together and still online. Start an idea on twitter, pass it on to another site when the idea seems

  4. Matt Says:

    Cool stuff Rich. I was wondering, did you use an Oracle database for this project? and did you write any tests? (RSpec or unit test?) What major problem did you face? How did you convince people to use Rails?

    I’m glad to see that Ruby and Rails are getting more and more “enterprise”(actually ‘enterprise people’ are getting more interested in Ruby and Rails).

    Keep us posted,

    Matt

  5. Matt Says:

    Cool stuff Rich. I was wondering, did you use an Oracle database for this project? and did you write any tests? (RSpec or unit test?) What major problem did you face? How did you convince people to use Rails?

    I’m glad to see that Ruby and Rails are getting more and more “enterprise”(actually ‘enterprise people’ are getting more interested in Ruby and Rails).

    Keep us posted,

    Matt

  6. Rich Manalang Says:

    Hi Matt. Currently it’s on a MySQL db. I will be porting it to an Oracle 10g DB and also to jRuby at some point. I wanted to get the site up and running as quickly as possible without having to deal with possible bugs I might run into with jRuby on an Oracle DB.

  7. Rich Manalang Says:

    Hi Matt. Currently it’s on a MySQL db. I will be porting it to an Oracle 10g DB and also to jRuby at some point. I wanted to get the site up and running as quickly as possible without having to deal with possible bugs I might run into with jRuby on an Oracle DB.

  8. Oracle IdeaFactory / Cases 2.0 Says:

    […] How we built IdeaFactory […]

  9. orlando Says:

    Great idea, How long before people started using the site? Did you have to market it much. I think I may try doing something similar for my organization but I will probably do it using oracle portal as that is what our intranet is based on. One question. Was the look and feel of the design produced by ruby on rails or did you code it yourself?

  10. orlando Says:

    Great idea, How long before people started using the site? Did you have to market it much. I think I may try doing something similar for my organization but I will probably do it using oracle portal as that is what our intranet is based on. One question. Was the look and feel of the design produced by ruby on rails or did you code it yourself?

  11. mkrigsman Says:

    Love the fact that you bring heavy, traditional development displine to this. You may be interested in this post over at ZDNet:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures/?p=340

    Michael Krigsman
    http://projectfailures.com

  12. Michael Krigsman Says:

    Love the fact that you bring heavy, traditional development displine to this. You may be interested in this post over at ZDNet:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures/?p=340

    Michael Krigsman
    http://projectfailures.com

  13. » Pleasantly surprised by Oracle | IT Project Failures | ZDNet.com Says:

    […] it was with pleasure that I read about work being done at Oracle’s AppsLabs. The whole attitude is open, with a clear desire to produce something useful and interesting. What […]

  14. mkrigsman Says:

    Hey Guys,

    Wrote about you here:
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures/?p=341

    Michael Krigsman
    http://projectfailures.com

  15. Michael Krigsman Says:

    Hey Guys,

    Wrote about you here:
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures/?p=341

    Michael Krigsman
    http://projectfailures.com

  16. deal architect : Can you spray paint innovation? Says:

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    […] small groups inside both SAP (Craig’s Rantings…) and Oracle (Oracle AppsLab) have demonstrated new ideas that speak “small and friendly” rather than “huge, […]

  18. Knowledge Infuser: Oracle and Social Networking Says:

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  19. Rosy Says:

    Nice blog…..Thanks for the info…..It was really useful….. Web 2.0 approach to enterprise application development is the first factor that makes our applications bring about a SEA-change.

  20. Rosy Says:

    Nice blog…..Thanks for the info…..It was really useful….. Web 2.0 approach to enterprise application development is the first factor that makes our applications bring about a SEA-change.

  21. Enterprise 2.0 » Blog Archive » Enterprise 2.0 Success Factors Says:

    […] and flexibility Oracle’s IdeaFactory took just a few days to build. Janssen-Cilag’s wiki-based intranet was purchased, customised […]

  22. Ende | Advies: Twitter for ideasharing Says:

    […] be. Why not combine the simple but great Twitter funcionality and the functions of a site like IdeaFactory or IdeaExchange. Both being based of sites like digg. And start the discussion and rating of an […]

  23. 2008 April 09 | ORACLE-BASE Blog Aggregator Says:

    […] ‘Lab in June of last year. Without him, we’d be nowhere now. In July, he put together IdeaFactory in about a day, then tacked on the social network pieces that become Connect in […]

  24. What’s the Best Way to Collect Ratings? | Oracle Says:

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  25. The ’social enterprise’ comes of age Says:

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