Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We're Live!

Well, it's been a wild couple of weeks, but is now officially launched. Our initial offering includes three problems, along with their detailed solution writeups. Here's a quick overview of what content is already available.


The first problem is The Traveling Hacker, which is a testing oriented problem. You're given some basic domain logic, but in order to implement it, you need to mock out some calls to a web service. The goal is end up with fully tested code that can just be dropped into production, even though you haven't run it against the live service before.

The second problem is Sudoku Service, and it is a bit inverted from the first one. The idea is that you need to find an open source project that handles Sudoku solving for you, and then write a service and reference client around it. Our solution ended up using Sinatra and REST Client, but there are many ways to go about this. During the course of writing up the solution, I also spent a good deal of time talking about how to quickly search through free software projects and make some decisions on which ones might be suited for your needs. If you don't already have a decent process for auditing open source projects, you might find what I outlined to come in handy.

The third problem, Geography Lesson, is a different sort of problem, which we'll mix in between our traditional ones. It is what we're calling a mini-sprint, and should be solvable in a relatively short amount of time IF you can find the key tricks that make it easy. We've decided to make problems, solutions, and discussion freely available for all mini-sprints, to make available to a wider audience.


At this point, we have everything we need to get this party started. Here's what you can expect right now if you head over to

  • The three above mentioned problem definitions, all of which are licensed under CC NC-SA,
    which means you can repost them or share them with your friends pretty much anywhere.
  • Three nice PDF solutions, all of which were typeset using Prawn and Jambalaya.
  • A simple discussion system that is open to the public on all mini-sprints, and is available
    to those who purchase solutions to our traditional problems.
  • A Tender support system, so that you can get in touch with us about any problems with
    the service.
We expect to release new content roughly every week, targeting two long-form problems and two mini-sprints a month. However, this is going to depend a bit on our ability to produce quality content in that short time frame, and we'll generally prefer quality over quantity. We'll just have to see how it goes over time.


We do have some rough edges that we still plan to iron out. We'd like to find even better fonts for our typesetted solutions, and while our content has reached the copyeditor, it hasn't made it back to us yet. The materials we've posted so far should still be highly readable, so don't let this stop you from checking them out.

During the early access period, we put out a survey asking about a number of issues related to the site, and got some excellent feedback. We'll follow up very soon with our responses to that feedback, to let you know what we've already done, and what we plan to do in the coming weeks.

We hope you enjoy the site, and that you'll learn something from it. Please let us know if there are ways that we can make things better.


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