Omaha developer wins Zappos’ API Challenge
Screenshot of OutfitHer, the Best Overall Application winner in Zappos' API Developer Challenge-palooza-athon from developer.zappos.com
Last month, Zappos hosted its first API Developer Challenge-palooza-athon, a contest that rewarded folks for creating new uses of Zappos' API. The company accepted submissions ranging from a simple widget module to even a single page web app — anything that made a creative use of the API.
The top ideas were rewarded in the following three categories:
- Most Fun and Weird Application
- Best Mash-up Application
- Best Overall Application
Omaha's Scott Blaine took home the title for Best Overall Application for his app, OutfitHer. In the email interview below, Blaine, a Java developer for a local consulting company, shares details of his involvement in the contest and developing OutfitHer. (Below: Scott Blaine, photo from twitter.com/blaisco)
Silicon Prairie News: How did you hear about Zappos' contest?
Scott Blaine: I heard about the contest by chance. I was in the middle of writing a blog post about an idea I had for a web app that would use Amazon's API. In the course of doing some research for the post I stumbled upon the Zappos API, and subsequently their blog, where I learned about their API contest. That was on March 17, and the contest ended on the 31st, so I only had two weeks to build something.
SPN: Where did the idea come from?
Blaine: I'm a gamer at heart, and I try to look at how I can make things into games or incorporate game-like elements. My initial idea was to create a role-playing game where you could outfit yourself with clothing (from the Zappos catalog) and weapons (such as rolling pins, toasters, etc.) and then battle against other people.
I thought the concept was awesome and would've fit well into their "most fun and weird app" category, but there was no way I could build it in two weeks. I decided to build the smallest, useful part of that instead: an inventory management system. That, combined with a desire to create something that wasn't intended for someone like myself (a geeky male), led me to build Outfit Her.
SPN: What will happen next with the app?
Blaine: I don't have any future plans for Outfit Her at the moment. I do think there's a lot of potential for building fashion/apparel apps, but it's not something that I'm passionate about. I'll probably post the code on github and let others make use of it.
SPN: Is there affiliate revenue behind the app, if so, could this become something more than a side project for you?
Blaine: The app doesn't generate any affiliate revenue, though not for lack of trying. The Zappos API doesn't have a way to use affiliate links yet (hint hint Zappos, your developers will love you if you add it). Even if there were affiliate links though, I don't anticipate the app earning much revenue without a considerable amount of development or marketing effort.
SPN: Anything else you'd like to add about your contest experience?
Blaine: Zappos has done an amazing job of creating an easy-to-use API with thorough documentation. I'd encourage more local companies to consider adding APIs for developers to use. It doesn't make sense for every business, but some may find that it's a good way to increase their online sales.