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Web Strategy & Development For Startups

Case Study: SMSBet built with Functional Mockups

February 11th 2011 ec2, functional mockups, mobile, nodejs, nodester, sms, twilio

Smsbet.info was the result of two development spikes, or functional mockups, to create a SMS based sports odds lookup service. We used NodeJS and Twilio as the base platform and had a functional version after the first development spike. NodeJS was chosen for it’s high capacity event-based architecture to enable the service to handle high loads that might crop up before events. That version could receive and parse text messages, parse an XML document with sporting event odds, and return the results via text messaging, using Twilio.

The second spike was mostly refinements and hosting. First we attempted Nodester, which is in early alpha stages and had a few bugs that have since been ironed out. As a result we switched to Amazons EC2 micro instances, you can see more about those details in my post, . We also learned that the first XML feed wasn’t going to cut it and switched to a new provider. We also skinned the website for mobile viewing using jQuery’s Mobile framework.

In summary, the total time from beginning to working prototype was about 10 days, two development spikes. The cost, $7000. We learned that hosting on EC2 is a viable option, parsing the XML and caching the results works well, and NodeJS is a solid platform to build on and handle load. Of course, we knew Twilio was a solid provider for the SMS functionality. In addition, we found a solid API provider for odds and one not so solid provider. And lastly, built a mobile web interface to access the service from smart phones.

If you have an idea for a web application, but have a lot of unknowns about how it might work, our functional mockups are made for you! Contact us to learn more.