LearnEvent Stream – Carsonified's new web app


Ryan Carson
writes on March 26, 2008

A large chunk of our business comes from our events and we felt it was time to invest in the backend that runs the sites and bookings for Future of Web Apps, Fuel, Future of Web Design, Future of Mobile and Carson Workshops.

We currently have this barely-functional thing we call the ‘CMS’ which was built in a hurry and is basically a pain in the ass. Its worked pretty well up until now but we’re noticing that bugs are starting to appear and it lacks a ton of the functionality that we need.

screenshot of the CMS system showing several Carsonified events

The first step

The first thing we did was sit down and decide what we loved and hated about the current system. We had to be careful here because it would’ve been easy to get carried away with adding superfluous functionality (‘It be great if it did ….’).

We basically came up with a very rough list of things the system should be able to do. Once we all agreed, Adam constructed a flow diagram of the booking process.

A flow diagram of the booking process

Our main goal was to make life easier for everyone when they’re booking tickets to our events. Therefore we started with the Booking Page. Adam did a very rough layout for this (we didn’t even bother to wireframe it).

The first obvious step was to break the booking process down into steps. Previously it was just one huge, long page and it was very unwieldy. By showing the person booking the seat that there were four basic steps to complete, it would give them an idea of where they were in the process and that it did indeed have an end πŸ™‚

screenshot showing the new booking page

View full size image.

By the way, you may be wondering why Adam is working on the events backend when we hired him to work on DropSend. Well, the truth is that after he joined us, he realized that he left the company he started a little too soon, without giving it a chance to really take off. It was nothing to do with us, he just realized he should’ve given his own company more of a chance before leaving it. Of course we were surprised but he’s super talented so we decided to keep working with him. This was the perfect project to team up on. Anyway, back to the story …

The power of Rails

I’m an ex-PHP developer with a Computer Science degree, so I’ve never touched Ruby or Rails. Of course I’ve heard about how you can build apps much faster in Rails, but we’ve never actually used it at Carsonified.

Holy crap, I’m a believer.

We went from a visual of the booking page to a roughly functioning app in two days. TWO DAYS. Here are a few screencasts of the system in action.

Event Stream – Part I from Carsonified on Vimeo.

Wireframe to working app in seven calendar days

Just three days later, we had added the design skinning to the process and it was looking really great. We still have quite a few copy and design tweaks, but it’s basically there. Seven days – unbelievable. And keep in mind that’s calendar days not week days.

Carsonified’s new web app – Event Stream from Carsonified on Vimeo.

What’s its name?

We’ve decided to call this system ‘Event Stream’ and we’ve done a temporary logo for it.

The Event Stream logo

Once we have more time, we’ll probably redo this logo, but for now, it’s great to have another Carsonified Web App.

Well, I’ve got a ton more to share with you about the system. We’re so excited about it!


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0 Responses to “Event Stream – Carsonified's new web app”

  1. Hi Ryan,

    Looking really good.

    On the subject of MVC frameworks, I would definitely take a look at Cakephp (v1.2, very stable even though it’s beta) if you’re a php’r and enjoy the speed etc that Rails affords. Although the docs have been lacking in places, with efforts like the CakePHP Cookbook things are definitely moving in the right direction.

    I’ve used it almost exclusively for my php work over the last 2 years and have found it a real asset.



  2. Hi Ryan,

    I just thought I’d pop back here and say a big “thank you”.

    Your post here really influenced my platform decision in the end and I went for Rails for my new website that I’m building.

    @Jason Kitkat – we must stop meeting like this!

    I am now sitting here with a fully deployed, live and working site in about three weeks from scratch that does so much more than I would have been able to achieve through other means.

    It’s not perfect yet, and the Rails learning curve took a while to work through – lots of ‘false summits’ along the way.

    Thanks again for sharing and @Jason Kitkat – we should catch up soon because we’re bound to be working on exactly the idea without knowing it I am sure…


  3. Looks nice and easy to use. πŸ™‚
    Wondering if you are going to build API and allow other apps (i.e. CRM Softwares) linked with yours?

  4. As an update to my last comment on this post, I am now currently reading a book to learn the basics of Ruby on Rails. I have to thank Carsonified for motivating me to start learning Rails.

    I am hoping that you maybe sometime in the future do a workshop or two that focuses on Rails. As soon as you announce it, i’ll be getting my seat.

    Cheers again.


  5. hey, i got a good logo for you.. shall i send it via email in 2 days or so. I dont need any credits or money though coz im a big fan of carsonified and i love 2.0 design for web apps.just asking though…

  6. Hi Stef and Ryan and co…

    I tried CakePHP and found it to be a bit of mess and depressingly undocumented. I’ve stuck with my own framework for now but the Rails siren keeps calling!

    All the best,

  7. Hi Ryan. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I’m currently trying to work out the best framework for me to adopt for a lovely new project I’m getting off the ground.

    I’ve had false starts with Rails, then back to my own CMS, then onto another one, and now I’m currently considering CakePHP / CodeIgniter / Rails as my platform.

    Interesting to see that you made such progress in so short a timescale with so clear a vision of what you wanted to achieve. As someone commented above, the building part is easy – it’s the ‘deployment’ parts that seem to cause us headaches.


  8. Nice looking app.

    If you like a framework MCV and active records but didn’t want to skip away from PHP there is always CakePHP.

  9. Hey Ryan,

    Glad you’ve checked out Rails. I told you it was great! πŸ™‚ That’s a sweet looking app.

  10. @Paul Lomax – You beat me to it!

    I really like that you Carsonified peeps are happy to expose your design process – between your words and the thoughtful suggestions in comments it’s good stuff.

    Too few companies understand that knowledge increases in value when you share it.

  11. @Paul – thanks for spotting that – I’ll get it onto my todo list straight away just in case that copy doesn’t get changed πŸ™‚

  12. Cool πŸ™‚

    As a ex-PHPer and a new Rails fan, you should check out the Symfony framework (www.symfony-project.com)…

    I know you said you’re still working on the copy (obviously), but just in case you don’t spot it, you have “your done” instead of “you’re done” in the last step box… (I’m a pedant!)

  13. @Kyle – you can easily skip the step either by pressing the link or submitting a blank form – so it’s pretty intuitive

  14. You may want to consider killing that promo code step if you’re going to release this to the public. Most of us don’t actually read what on the page and having to click a text link instead of the huge button is surely going to be a sticking point.

    Throw it into the first step, one extra field isn’t going to make things “unwieldily.”

  15. Exciting! I love Rails for the possibility to develop new ideas so quickly. Great choice, it’s a very nice framework!

  16. Hi Ryan,

    Nice new app! It would be great to see a full size version of the flowchart – I’m actually studying them for my degree at the moment!

  17. Nice to see you using Rails, you can definitely build quick apps it’s just the deployment and hosting that can be tricky!

    Adam, would be useful to include some details on how you integrated a payment system into the app. That is something that I have not had the courage to tackle and it is the area that usually gets left out of the books and tutorials but is vital to any web app.

    Ryan good luck with the TV stuff.

    Thanks James.

  18. Looks great – as someone who has helped run a few events I have always found the booking forms to be a complete pain in the rear! so anything that improves that experience is likely to find a market if you do release it into the wild..

  19. In the next few days I’m going to try and post something about the technicalities behind the application. At this precise moment, I’ve just finished the integration with Secure Trading’s XPAY client so the system can actually take payments and issue refunds with a single click.

  20. I am definately going to check out Rails now. Keep up the great work guys. I am hoping to get on one of your workshops this year. Just waiting for the right one. Now to introduce myself to Rails.

  21. @Sam – Right now it’s only an internal app for our own use. However, we’ll hopefully release it to the public some day.

    @Vladimir @Dan @Stewart @Dave – Thanks for the kind words!

  22. Having an application that makes the booking process a pleasure and not a pain should mean lower abandon rates. That’s just for starters. Rails goodness – oh yes – I’m constantly amazed at how fast stuff can be done. And I’m not a geek!!

  23. Just watched the vid. Looks like a nice little booking system. πŸ™‚

  24. Looking good, Ryan, hope its Rails on Sun πŸ™‚

  25. @Vladimir – just me, so far πŸ˜‰

  26. Congrats!

    Looks fantastic. How many of you guys worked to developed it?

  27. Event Stream looks great Ryan and will definitely looks to be beneficial for you! Is this an internal web app only or do you plan on releasing it for others to use?

  28. Ryan.

    This looks great, and really emphasises the power of a good developer and Rails.
    We have moved to rails for our own backend (in YoDiv.com) and from my point of view the business benefits are really huge. A great, agile, quick development process.

    Look forward to seeing the next installment, and with regards the logo, it’s a great first kick.


  29. @Stephen – Thanks! We’re super excited about it.

  30. Looking good my friends. Can’t wait to use to book the next event I attend!

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