Last week we held our 4th ever Simpleweb Challenge hacknight, where we task developers and creative types with building a cool new product in just 3 hours. Past sponsors have included Twilio, Pusher and TokBox, and this time, we thought we’d try something a bit different…

Rusic is a tool that enables developers and designers to build complex social websites and applications quickly. Its an internal project at Simpleweb that has been around for years in one way or another. We originally built it as an idea generator with Wikipedia as the first user. Since then, we’ve added a ton of new features and used Rusic for a number of projects including powering all of Fat Face’s social competitions.

We ran a few successful Rusic hack nights many years ago (in fact this was how we first met @labfoo) and we couldn’t wait to try another one with the new, improved Rusic.

After some homemade chilli, veggie curry, dhal and brownies, prepared by the amazing GeekFeeder, we got to work hacking. With just 3 hours, and prizes to be won, there wasn’t a minute to spare!

Here’s a look what we made on the night. Pretty amazing for just 3 hours!


@erikros_me, @danielthepope

Erik and Dan created a photo competition, where users sign in with their social media accounts, upload photos and let the community vote on them. Top rated photos would appear at the top of the page then expire after a certain amount of time.


In the 3 hours, they managed to implement social media sign-in, photo upload and photo viewing but eventually ran out of time.

Not a bad effort for 3 hours work and reminiscent of an awesome competition we build for Go Ape back in 2011.

Check out Voteomatic here.

Just Gimme


Created by Simpleweb developer Chris, Just Gimme is site that allows people to vote on what ridiculous thing their friends should do to raise money for charity. Users submit a few ideas for things they would do for charity and let their friends and family vote for their favourites.


Using Stripe’s Javascript SDK, Just Gimme would allow users to take payment details to charge the voters later and record the amount they’re donating. The simple rule is that the idea with the most money wins.

Check out Just Gimme here.

Bristol Days Out

Adrian Smith


The inspiration for Bristol Days Out came when Adrian was trying to think of a good place to cycle with his girlfriend and her sister in Bristol.

Bristol Days Out aims to help people find the most exciting trails, walks, bike rides and destinations across Bristol. Users can share their best day trips on Bristol Days Out and others can rate them, add comments and sort them by popularity.


@EdNutting, Ross, John

MessageDrop is an anonymous message sharing service created by University of Bristol students Ed, Ross and John. Users can leave messages for other people anywhere on a virtual, infinite, 2D “sheet of paper”. Over time, the messages fade off into the distance. Users can scroll in and out to browse backwards and forwards in time to see old and new messages.

Although the team didn’t manage to get the app working on the night, they did create this explainer video to help make sense of their idea…

Party Playlist

@Ben_Allen, Matt

Ben and Matt created an application which allows users to enter suggestions for songs while at a party. Users can enter a song name which is queried on Youtube’s API to access the video link. The songs with the most social interactions are more likely to be played next and the most popular song will be played first before being removed from the queue.

party playlist

And the winners are…

In third place… Connect4(04)

@DavidDarnes, @studioromeo, @iamkeir

David, Rob and Kier wanted to make a Rusic theme that your website would redirect to if someone encountered a 404 error (‘page not found’). The 404 page would then collect the referring URL that led to the missing page and log this ‘error’ in Rusic, thus making it a really useful error log for website owners.

Meanwhile, to incentivise the user to submit an error report and make the page more fun/interesting, they decided to create Connect4(04).


When a user lands on the 404 page, they can sign in with Twitter or Facebook and pick a column to place their token and try and connect 4. As an added bonus, your social profile avatar and link are added to each token.

The team had hoped to implement red/yellow turn taking, real-time updates and animated tokens dropping in, and detecting a win but eventually ran out of time.

Connect4(04) won Kier, Rob and Dave 3rd place and a £40 cash prize. Here’s Kier collecting the prize from Adam…


In second place… Rusic Music

@nicholedwight, @jegtnes, @verygrey

Nichole, Alex and Kim came in second place with Rusic Music, which turns text into sound.


Using Rusic, people can submit the text samples they want to convert. Rusic Music then uses JavaScript to convert strings into numbers which the Web Audio API then turns into sound.

ASCII character codes were used as the frequency input and volume was determined by the length of words so that the longer a word was, the louder the resulting sound.

Check out Rusic Music here.

Rusic Music impressed the crowd and Nichole, Alex and Kim took home a £60 cash prize.

In first place… LazyDev


The Simpleweb Challenge reigning champion Jamie took the prize again! Jamie, who’s been working with Simpleweb for 3 months over his summer break from the University of Bristol, scored his 3rd win with LazyDev, an iOS application generator for Rusic spaces.


Users provide LazyDev with their Rusic API key and the bucket ID of the space they to create an iOS application for. LazyDev then generates a native application which allows users to view the ideas in that space, number of comments, number of likes and also allows them to add new ideas to the space.

LazyDev works by having a template Rusic iOS application that communicates with the Rusic API. This application contains a Credentials class that stores the API key and bucket ID. First the LazyDev Rusic template iOS application is copied by a python script, this will become the new application. The python script then replaces the Credentials class within the new application with the provided information.

We were super impressed with LazyDev and Simpleweb Managing Director Mark chose Jamie as the winner of first prize – an Orbotix Ollie remote controlled robot.


Check out the source code for Lazy Dev here.

Thanks for a great night!

We had an amazing time and it was fantastic seeing such a variety of uses and applications of Rusic.

Make sure to join us on Meetup to be invited to the next hacknight!

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