Once again, Flex User Group Manager Ali Daniali brings developers together to build a rich Internet application — this time for Second Harvest Food Bank, an agency that provides food to 176,000 individuals each month. Transcript.



Julie Campagna:  Hi, I'm Julie Campagna, I manage the Edge newsletter. Today we're at the 360 Flex conference in San Jose, California, and I'm sitting with Ali Daniali; who you may remember from last year, because last year Ali put together a charity code jam in Seattle. Well this year he's down in San Jose doing the same thing for another organization called Second Harvest Food Bank, located in San Jose, California. Second Harvest Food Bank provides food to an average of 176,000 individuals each month. It's the seventh largest food bank in the country.

Ali Daniali:  Within the first two hours we've signed up 13 people, and we'll go 50 hours in this project. The application is called the Virtual Food Connection. It's going to be a rich Internet application built with Flex, PHP and MySQL.

Michael Enos:  Essentially, what the application is going to do is match people based on where they're at, their zip code, using a database that we currently have with information about services they can receive in the community in terms of food.

Julie Campagna:  All this sounds great to me, but how can we expect people who can't afford food to have access to the Internet?

Michael Enos:  Often times people do have cell phones, or they have computers, or they even have cars. But, they're hungry. They're what we call "hungry and secure". They don't know, necessarily, where their food's going to come from for the next month.

Ali Daniali:  It's Tuesday, around 15 to one. We've got the framework, our database, our design all kind of gelling together.

John Blanco:  We're essentially in the heart of our coding effort right now. We have a lot of people who are working on it actively, and everyone trying to get their primary responsibility in place.

Steve Felt:  Well they made the announcement at the beginning of the conference, saying whether we knew where our next hot meal was going to come from. That really struck home with me, and I thought it'd be cool to get involved and see what we can do.

I feel really good. Actually, it's been exciting because we've been learning as we go. A lot of the things that we discussed at the conference are actually being put into the project.

John Blanco:  We're bring in Mottay, which is going to be our NBC framework. We're bringing in Yahoo Maps. The most challenging part is that we have quite an assortment of developers; we have over a dozen right now. Making sure that all the work that we have assigned out is going to be first of all accomplished by a developer that's going to stay with the project, and when that's going to be put in so another developer has what they need to do the work.

Ali Daniali:  In terms of really rudimentary interface, we've got the search box where they'll be able to send a zip code and get the map. That's what we've got right now.

It's crunch time, so I'm heading back to the hotel. I'll catch you all there, we've got a lot of work to get done tonight.

Brian Weisenthal:  Right now I'm working with Shawn on skinning and doing the graphics for the application. It's a pretty simple, clean design. I'm not a designer, and we’re using Degrafa, the open source framework, to do all the skinning. Yeah, I'm in Photoshop right now.

Ali Daniali:  We're shooting for three A.M. to be able to put it up on the server, and everyone to be able to go in. Click through, get a list of what the tasks are from there, and if anyone needs a shoeshine, he's got you covered. Or a nail shine.

John Blanco:  Just put your foot up there.

Ali Daniali:  I think everyone's really committed to getting that up, so we can show it to the group tomorrow morning. Or this morning. [laughs]

Conference presenter:  As you know, we have the Flex charity code jam going on. It started Monday morning.

Ali Daniali:  We want it to be very easy, so we need to know where they are, what ZIP code. So, you do a search, and you get these beautiful locations. We're using the Yahoo AS3 mapping component. This data that we've got from Second Harvest's database, we have the ability to do a direction front. It'll pop up in your window and do the to/from. You've got the ability to actually print, to localize all the language components so right from the beginning as the charity takes off, it's multiple languages. All the buttons, title, everything is translated.

Dusty Jewett:  It's amazing the amount of work that we got done.

Julie Campagna:  Any surprises?

Dusty Jewett:  Oh, there's a lot of surprises including the different mistakes you can make when you haven't slept in about 24 hours.

Julie Campagna:  You guys have been really supportive of the charity code jams. Not only do you provide the hotel room and the conference space, today it was announced you're giving $7000 to the food bank. Where's that coming from?

John Wilkes:  Well after five shows, we're kind of getting into our groove profit-wise, so we decided to give back. We're very happy to do it for the food bank this time.

Julie Campagna:  Ali, tell us, where's the application at right now?

Ali Daniali:  The application's done, and we're putting the finishing touches on it and getting ready to hand it off to the charity.

Michael Enos:  I'm so happy that in such a short period of time, so much development could be done. This is going to be something that we're going to be able to rapidly deploy in our live environment, and start getting this service out to people right away.

Ali Daniali:   The people make the project what it is. They stepped up and really made the project happen.


Julie Campagna: Great job for really putting this together and making it happen.

Ali Daniali:  Thank you.

Julie Campagna:  And Ali is actually going to be writing an article for the Edge, detailing how you can start your own charity code jam. So, look forward to that, and I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Edge.