Pondering web services

Several of the most active BillMonk users work at nearby Amazon.com (we didn’t know them well at all until we launched BillMonk). A few days ago we decided to have lunch. A good time was had by all, and they gave us a lot of support and some great ideas.

As power users, they told us they wanted:

  • Cooler and more expressive cell phone features such as:
    • specify participants up-front when creating a bill
    • batch lots of requests into one message
    • calculate the tip with the bill (other users had requested this, too)
  • A richer cell phone interface using Java
  • Web services so they could do this all for themselves

Frankly, we were astonished and excited by these ideas, and the realization that BillMonk has users with such a strong commitment to using it that they wanted to throw their own programming muscle behind it. (It should be pointed out that these guys are ninja coders).

Adding web services makes a lot of sense. From the point of view of running the service, it’s a better interface than email or WAP, so if someone has a choice between sending an SMS or email versus using a bit of software that calls the web service, that’s a no-brainer. It isn’t very hard to add web services (SOAP or XML-RPC) to BillMonk, thanks in large part to the building blocks already provided by Ruby on Rails; the only slow-downs are that we must be very rigorous with security and carefully design our APIs. Once available, we hope lots of programmers across the world will write interesting applications for BillMonk – including Java cell phone apps – which will only make the BillMonk experience better for users, and the service adopted by more people. Everyone wins!

We’re not yet commiting to any timelines, but this will happen at some point in the near future.

2 Responses to “Pondering web services”

  1. Ben Bernard Says:

    I love webservices, the idea at least… being able to add in our own functionality is going to rock hard core!… And a java phone interface would be super cool…

    Rock on guys!

    -Ben

  2. Parikshit Says:

    A RSS feed will also be a good idea. That way if I have a RSS aggregator, I can see the pending transactions on my RSS aggregator.

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