Foursquare To Host First Hackathon - InformationWeek

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2/18/2011
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Foursquare To Host First Hackathon

The location service expects the 150 registered developers to build a variety of maps, mashups, and other tools using the company's new APIv2 during the day-long event.

Foursquare on Saturday will hold its debut hackathon, a day-long event during which 150 developers will use the location service's API to write applications.

"Although we started hacking together Foursquare in a coffee shop, it wasn't long until we moved into a real office -- a shared work space with a few other tech companies. And, while our team has grown quite a bit, it's been just as exciting to be here during the tremendous growth in the New York tech scene over the past several years," said Naveen Selvadurai, Foursquare co-founder, in a company blog. "Start-ups are popping up all over the place, and the sheer force of talent and cross-pollination of ideas is amazing."

The event will be held at Manhattan-based General Assembly, beginning with breakfast at 9 a.m. and concluding with "demos, judging, beer," at 10 p.m., according to the official schedule.

"The idea behind the hackathon is to get a bunch of smart people in a room for a day and have them build amazing things using the Foursquare API. That's why we built our API, that's why we love the hundreds of apps that are built atop it, and that's why we have a crazy wish list of things we'd like to see come out of this. Given how quickly the event filled up, it seems that you guys are pretty excited, too!" Selvadurai said. "We look forward to seeing the 150 registered developers there (and sorry to those who didn't get a ticket; the space filled up fast), and to sharing the great ideas that are coming out of New York."

This is Foursquare's first hackathon, but the concept itself is not new. A similar event at Facebook led to the creation of the social media site's live comments feature. And last summer, a number of organizations -- including NASA, the World Bank, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft -- participated in the second hackathon organized by the Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) initiative.

In Foursquare's hackathon, the company's wish-list items include a badge-unlock map; a map users can share on Facebook, Twitter, and their Web site; a news and Wikipedia mashup; a to-do browser; a virtual jukebox; a fitness journal; a dating tool; a browser extension; and a menu extension for the Mac operating system, according to Foursquare.

The company's API lets third-party developers build applications that interact with Foursquare's platform, allowing programmers to create new ways to check-in to Foursquare or visualize the data the Foursquare community generates. APIv2 currently is in beta, but Foursquare requires that developers use the tool for all future application development, according to its developer Web site.

The new API -- released on December 9 -- solely uses OAuth2, making it easier for developers to use and for Foursquare to monitor, and only uses JSON, which results in a significant improvement in performance, according to Foursquare. In addition, the latest iteration includes extensive documentation; new endpoints such as user badges, venue popularity, user venue history, and bundled requests; more consistency; and an API explorer, Foursquare said.

"By dropping XML support, we've been able to make the server more responsive (but not 1000x faster; sorry)," said Kushal Dave, software engineer, in a blog at the time. "We're well aware that there are many other things you want from our API (push notifications, venue management, and better venue search and trending information, among others), and we're working on adding those features. But we believe this is a step in the right direction, making it even easier to build cool applications for our five million enthusiastic users and giving you incomparable access to our repository of millions of curated venues and user-created tips and hundreds of millions of check-ins."

Foursquare has created a wiki and Twitter handle for the event.

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