delizzy.com is a delicious.com bookmarks search engine. The app searches through the content, not just the titles, of your delicious bookmarks.
I came up with the idea for this app while using delicious – the social bookmarking site. This app is a kind of”scratch my own itch” app – meaning it solved an issue I had/have. I’m a lazy saver of bookmarks, meaning that when I save a bookmark I’m not thorough – I’m quick. I don’t add tags, a description, etc which ultimately leads to information-poor bookmarks. This makes searching over my bookmarks very hard.
Search engines are information rich – they store loads of information about websites, index it and open the index up for search. Why not combine the power of search engines with your bookmarks – that way you can have powerful, lazy bookmarking…
My research wasn’t extensive – in fact, there was only one other similar app out there – deliGoo. I was quite disappointed when I couldn’t install the app – as it was an Firefox extension only. So my research stopped there…
I wrote the app in Ruby and used the Rails framework. This was my second attempt at RoR. It was a good opportunity to learn more about the semantics of both technologies. Choosing RoR did have some drawbacks – the app was slow. There is a load of XML parsing/manipulation/creation happening in the background – as well as querying of the Delicious and Google APIs.
It did however work quite well – it did everything that I wanted it to do with a minimal amount of effort. I built the site in under 3 days. There were some technical gotchas – one being that Google caches each CSE (Custom Search Engine) – these issues were overcome though, some with a little bit of smarts and some with a little bit of trickery.
Finally, I submitted the app to techcrunch.com not really expecting it to be written about – but it was and it generated a massive traffic spike. Check out the article here. It was rewarding to see users using the app. There was only one issue – during the traffic spike, delicious throttled my API access… This meant users couldn’t get access to the app the first time they tried – ultimately being detrimental to app’s success.
I wasn’t that concerned about monetizing this app – however, I did try. I tried Google Ads which failed miserably. The site is quite simple, with not much content – so when Google tried to serve contextual ads, no ads were very contextual… So I removed them.
Secretly I was hoping delicious would notice the app and possibly offer me a job… :)
I believe this is the most important part, so here we go:
1. Choose the right tool for the job – I believe that RoR was the wrong choice. This lesson correlates directly with the one below.
2. Spending money on the right infrastructure would’ve fixed most of the performance issues (but choosing a different technology could’ve wiped this lesson out completely). One Mongrel instance was insufficient to serve an XML hungry app like this one to multiple users. Obviously…
3. Communicate with API providers – and communicate early. It takes providers some time to arrange whitelists/etc – which is totally acceptable and fair. Delizzy is now whitelisted, but the opportunity for the app to become mainstream has passed…
Sure – in fact, I was just about to re-write delizzy using a very light Ruby framework called Sinatra, or even a Java framework called Play – but I won’t. Why? Delicious may be shutting down… Unfortunate.
If delicious wasn’t shutting down, I would certainly do it again. It was simple, inexpensive, not time consuming and useful.
You can check out delizzy at – http://www.delizzy.com – but, unfortunately you won’t be able to try it out. This is deliberate – I’ve removed the ability to login. Why? Until an announcement is made about delicious’ future – I’d rather create something new.