Who says you can't launch a web startup in a weekend? On October 18th and 19th, over 500 Ruby developers participated in a weekend-long development competition called the Rails Rumble, producing nearly a quarter million lines of code and 131 qualifying applications. Not bad, right? That's certainly a lot of code. But what's more interesting are the apps themselves, which are clearly more than the sum of their parts.
Take a look at some of the leaderboard entries to see what I mean. There's some great stuff here. Some truly polished, inspired ideas, fueled by fun, intelligent user interfaces. If you can't be bothered to explore each of them yourself, Leslie Poston over at Mashable has written up quick reviews of some of her favorites. It's a good way to get a sense of the variety of submissions introduced this year, as well as the increased quality over similar entries created in last years' competition.
What's more important than any individual app created during a contest like this though is instead what the exercise itself proves; with a team of 1-4 people who work well together, combined with some powerful tools like Ruby, Rails, and its vast sea of libraries and plugins, you can build some pretty impressive web properties in a very very small (but focused!) amount of time.
So it's official: you no longer have an excuse. Find a weekend, mark it off on your calendar, coordinate with a few other designer/developers, and get cranking on that idea you've been babbling about for the past 5 months but have yet to start prototyping. The only way to find out if it's really going to work is to do it, and launch a rough version 1. And there's never any better time than now. Who knows? It could be the start of something great.
If you're interested in finding out more about the Rumble (disclaimer: I am an one of the event oganizers), contest winners will be announced on November 2nd. In the meantime, you can head over and check out the leaderboard to see them for yourself. While you're there, since there's still time, you might as well register to vote and help us decide which of these apps deserves to live in Web 2.0.1 infamy!