Jon Wong

WHWN, dotCloud, and the Wonder that is PyCon

Reposted from the blog of We Have, We Need

Our team has been been working on a daunting task: to create a web application that will help NGOs and other disaster relief groups connect their supplies with one another to reduce waste and hasten responses in crisis zones.

Never fear! DotCloud is here! DotCloud is a platform-as-a-service company that is currently the host for our entire web stack. Their extensive platform of technologies means that we can pick and choose what services we need to succeed, and they deal with setting them up and getting them going, and make sure they keep going. From the non-relational database mongoDB to our high performance map tile server (tilestream), dotCloud has really surprised us with the wide range of technologies that they have running, as well as how easy it is to get set up. For a university project with a developer turnover of around 10-11 weeks, this means we don't need to have people working on figuring out how to get these services running nor do we need people to keep them running (how we get people up to speed is an issue for another time!). The majority of our team can then start working on coding, testing, and implementing without worrying about the nuances of deploying to the web.

The praise doesn't stop there. DotCloud was generous enough to get me a ticket into PyCon 2012. I was already stunned by their service and their customer support, and now I was absolutely taken aback by their generosity. Being my first conference ever, and especially for my favorite programming language, I was excited about the opportunity to learn from the industry's best. I went to all the talks I could about all the things I had never learned about in school, like testing, user interaction design, mapping… including all the talks that pertained to our services at We Have, We Need. DotCloud also (again, very graciously) allowed me to present We Have, We Need at their booth in the expo hall, and I was able to talk to anyone who cared listen about my project, where we were taking it, and solicited feedback and criticism on our project. After a tiring three days of talks and presentations I returned home laden with swag. I let my team members take their fill of t-shirts and stickers, and began to share everything that I had learned. I shared videos of the best talks, and we got back to work.

Those team members are still on the team (except for one who graduated!) and we added even more people this quarter. We've instituted a good amount of the things that we picked up at PyCon, most importantly implementing a more rigorous testing framework for our Django application, and now we are on track to launch to a select set of alpha users at the end of this quarter! Needless to say, dotCloud has played a large part in our progress and our (hopefully) continued success.

Jon (@jnwng)

we’re building a service that connects NGOs and humanitarians in disaster zones via SMS, email, and the web. have some ideas or feedback? send us an email at [email protected]