Ever been out at dinner and had someone mention a movie you have to watch (Like, Gattaca.), and then went home and promptly forgot the name? John Clayton wants to make sure a good movie never goes unseen with his app, Flxt.it. Simply associate your Netflix account with your phone number, and then when you're out to dinner, all you have to do is text the name of the movie to Flxt.it's phone number and it'll be added to your Netflix queue. Pretty handy, right? The folks at Twilio and our friends at AppHarbor thought so too, so we're proud to announce that Flxt.it is this week's winner of the Twilio/AppHarbor Developer Contest.
For winning the contest, John will get a Samsung Focus, $500 in AppHarbor credit, and $100 in Twilio credit. Here's what John had to say about Flxt.it's journey from idea to product:
"I've had the idea of super-easy Netflix queue additions bouncing around in my head for a while. I can't tell you how many times I've been out somewhere – maybe at the movie theater, or reading the Sunday ads at the coffee shop – and saw a movie that I wanted to make sure to watch. Even with a smartphone it takes a considerable amount of time to do this on Netflix's web site. The original idea was a simple mobile web site as it would address all smartphones in one swoop.
"When I saw the contest announcement it hit me that SMS would be the ultimate way to facilitate queue additions since it works on any phone, not just smartphones, and anyone should be able to pick it up and just use it. I'd been playing with AppHarbor for another project, but I knew this was an opportunity to get the app off the ground. So Tuesday night I started, and after a number of quick iterations and late nights coding, and thanks to the feedback and support from my wife, by Sunday night I was able to add movies via SMS!
"Now that it's out I've been focused primarily on making sure that when people register, their sign-up experience is a good one. Once that is solid I'll add more features to the Netflix functionality – namely being able to ask the user which movie they'd like to add if their search returns multiple results, followed by adding the ability to send a queue position with the request. I'd like to keep the service free, and plan on using the beta to scale up users to make sure I don't get hit too hard in the wallet.
"flxt.it was built using ASP.NET 4.0 with MVC 3. It's hosted on AppHarbor, which has pretty much turned me off to any non-git deployment method – it really is quick and easy! To work with the Netflix API I'm using RestSharp, which has been an amazingly useful library! It makes consuming REST services painless, and its OAuth support was a life saver to get done by the deadline. On the back end I'm using MongoDb hosted at Mongo Machine. After trying some other cloud-based providers I settled on Mongo Machine because of their pay-for-what-you-use model vs. pay-per-database model, and a replicated, backed up architecture that are typically found on higher-end plans elsewhere.
"Using Twilio in MVC could not be easier – for SMS you just need a model with the matching properties and you can receive incoming messages! Replying to the message is simply a content result. TwiML responses can be easily written using the new Razor view engine, and the RestSharp library makes working with the Twilio API child's play.
"I'd come across Twilio before, but never had a use for it. In building flxt.it the Twilio integration was actually one of the simplest pieces to build. Now that I know how easy it is to integrate with I'm sure I'll be seeing use cases everywhere!"