Featured API – FreshBooks


FreshBooks is an online invoicing service with a few goals in mind: easy & fast record keeping, simple billing, and safe data.  It’s no wonder they have over 3.5 million clients! With this kind of client base, FreshBooks opened up their API to 3rd party developers to create their Add-on Store, where developers can create and promote applications that integrate directly with FreshBooks clients’ accounts.

The FreshBooks API site gives a brief overview of the service before it goes into more detail about authentication, application-specific billing, webhooks, and their various endpoints. They also provide links to API libraries published by other developers in Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl, and others, making connecting to the API a snap.  The Sample Code page also helps quite a bit, with examples for authentication, plugins, third-party apps, and their own internal integration code as well.  FreshBooks uses OAuth for authentication, similar to other modern API platforms, and has full documentation and examples to get you set up.

Examples of applications that have been built with the FreshBooks API can be seen on their add-on community page, and include project management, customer management, accounting, expense, time tracking, lead generation, marketing, payment gateway, productivity, and eCommerce software packages.  FreshBooks also maintains a developer blog, tips page, and google group for fielding any API / development questions.

Corey from FreshBooks is one of the founding members of HackDays, and FreshBooks’ API has been at hackdays since the beginning.  Their API will be a sponsor at HackREGINA, HackVan, and HackTO this year.

Featured API – iQmetrix’s XQ API


The XQ API, provided by iQmetrix Software, is a collection of curated product information related to the wireless retail industry. Its main purpose is to power iQmetrix’s XQ Interactive Retail software services, whose goal is to improve the customer shopping experience in wireless retail stores across North America.

There are three major components to the XQ API, which include Products, Playlists and Analytics. The products, as you can imagine, contain everything you could need to query product information. Most of the product information has been provided by a curated “master catalog” of data, which iQmetrix obtains from other distributers and manufacturers, and contains high quality images and video. Also worth noting is the compatibility and relation data also included – by selecting a product, you can also see all other products that are compatible with it.

The Playlists endpoint lets developers create a subset of products to be displayed within an application. This is used to create “sub-catalogs” of data that could be displayed on a particular device. In this way, XQ curators can display certain product information on specific displays in their store, helping them control the in-store experience. This is also a great way of working with a subset of product information, so as a developer, you don’t have to page through the list of products every time you run a query.

A final piece to the XQ API is the Analytics endpoint. This endpoint is used to both register hits on specific products, as well as to report against all the traffic that a user’s API account has seen. This reporting service provides a quick and easy way for users of XQ to get a detailed report of which products are being viewed by their customers in-store.

XQ API has several other components and endpoints, including a shopping cart, advertisements, asset management, and theme management. All of these pieces together are used to create great in-store experiences for customers. Example applications that currently use the XQ API can be seen on the iQmetrix company website.

23 Feb 2012, 4:22pm
APIs HackRegina HackVAN
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Upcoming Vancouver Hackathons

We’ve got a ton of hackathons happening in Vancouver over the next little while. If you want to flex your programming muscles, there are lots of upcoming opportunities.

Open Data Hackathon - February 25th

This coming Saturday, the iQmetrix offices play host to an Open Data Hackathon put on by the Vancouver Tech Cofounders Meetup.

On Feb. 25th, join a group of talented designers, developers and product people to help turn open data into useful applications in one day!

Open Data Hackathon is a great opportunity to flex your ‘Build It’ muscle and create useful applications with a team of talented individuals.

How It Works:

9am – We do a quick brainstorming exercise and then pitch ideas to the room
10am – Teams are formed around the top ideas, you vote with your feet.
11am to 4pm – We build!
4pm – We have judges (TBD) come to give feedback on the products. The most useful application wins!
5pm – We wrap up the celebration with tasty beer courtesy of the good folks at iQmetrix.

Sign up for Open Data Hackathon »

White Day Hackathon – March 10th

A Thinking Ape and Silicon Sisters are organizing a hackathon around White Day – the day where men “pay back” women with gifts one month after Valentine’s Day. More from the site:

The aim of White Day Hackathon is to create a coding environment that’s friendly to female developers (but everyone’s welcome to come!).

Devs will get the chance to meet other coders (experienced and aspiring) and work in groups of 1-3 to make some wicked apps.

We’ll start with a mixer on Friday night where we’ll share ideas, meet fellow devs, and build groups before we spend Saturday hacking together something cool.

Sign up for White Day Hackathon »

And of course, the HackVAN event on March 24th »

Got other developer / programming related events in Vancouver? Let us know, we’d love to share.

21 Feb 2012, 3:42pm
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Featured API – YellowAPI.com


When you first start researching the Yellow Pages API, it seems pretty basic – 4 endpoints, a handful of options.  But when you start working with it you and realize the depth of their dataset and how well put together their API support is, the possibilities are endless!

YellowAPI provides 4 basic endpoints for developers – FindBusiness, GetBusinessDetails, FindDealer, and GetTypeAhead.  It starts off as a pretty standard business lookup tool, where you can use keywords, locations, and coordinates to get a list of businesses.  From there, you get access to all of the rich, curated data from the Yellow Pages dataset, including phone numbers, business categories, product information, videos, photos, and business logos.

But the real power comes from the documentation.  Using their “I/O Docs”, you can easily test out calls to the API from the browser, seeing exactly what your query should look like and what the resulting XML or JSON will be.  Having a tool like this is extremely helpful to developers, and this is a great example for other APIs what interactive documentation should look like.  On top of that, YellowAPI offers a handful of SDKs and tools for quick app development, for platforms like iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Java, PHP, Python, and Ruby.  This makes API integration even easier for developers using those platforms.

YellowAPI also offers a Developer Program, which is a program they use to support developers using their API.  They offer some seed money, support services to help launch your app, co-marketing opportunities, pay per performance models, and ad network solutions.  Example applications that have used this program include Reservely, RendezView, MoodFood, Finish My Basement, HuWhere and Foodtree.

YellowAPI has been with Hackdays almost since inception.  Since 2010, YellowAPI has been the lead sponsor of Hackdays.ca across Canada, ensuring the dev community was supported and the Hackdays.ca brand seen from coast to coast. They took part in our first hack in Nov 2010 in MTL and haven’t looked back since with hacks in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, Guelph and of course where we find ourselves today – HackREGINA is just around the corner. YellowAPI has signed on again as a sponsor for 2012 and we are looking to have lots of fun!

YellowAPI is one of the primary sponsors for our upcoming events, HackREGINA, HackVAN, and HackTO.

14 Feb 2012, 4:20pm
APIs HackDays HackRegina HackVAN
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HackVAN Friday mixer at the Electric Owl, sponsored by Unbounce

Electric Owl LogoNow that we’ve got the day-of venue sorted out, it’s time to start filling in some of the other pieces.

The Friday mixer – where developers get a chance to meet each other, form teams, and strategize – will be held at the Electric Owl, a cool space on Main Street. It will go from 6:30pm to 9pm – after all, you have to get a good night’s sleep in order to spend the entire next day coding!

Your registration for HackVAN gets you in the door to the mixer, and includes the first drink ticket on us.

This is also an opportunity for non-developers and people who won’t be hacking all day to meet the teams, the API providers, and in general mingle with all the great people from the Vancouver tech community. Whichever category you fall into, it all starts by buying your $10 HackVAN ticket over on Eventbrite »

Unbounce Logo

I’m also very pleased to announce that Unbounce has stepped up as the party sponsor, making it possible for us to put on the entire event. Unbounce is a great landing page platform built here in Vancouver – they announced their funding round at last year’s GrowCONF and are continuing to grow quickly. Check out the Rails, JavaScript, and DevOps positions they’re hiring for »
more »

8 Feb 2012, 6:38pm
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HackVAN Venue will be at A Thinking Ape offices

A Thinking Ape Logo

Our original plan for HackVAN was to use the iQmetrix space, since we host a lot of meetups. But Leila said “Let’s go BIG!! Let’s get a 100 developers!”, and it was clear that we needed bigger space.

Luckily we connected with A Thinking Ape, who have awesome new offices in Gastown. From giant bean bag chairs to great wifi, developers will have everything they need to do some great API hacking.

Thank you very much to A Thinking Ape for being the venue sponsor and hosting us all!

Not registered yet? Head over to buy your ticket at Eventbrite »

We’re also lucky enough to have Kenshi Arasaki, one of the founders of A Thinking Ape, as one of the judges for HackVAN. Of last year’s judges, Kenshi was the one that was most impressed by a focus on difficult technical hacks.

kenshi arasaki

Here’s more about Kenshi:

Kenshi has dreams of creating the next great mobile social experience. Prior to co-founding A Thinking Ape, he was helping to engineer great things at Amazon. Kenshi and his partner Wilkins went through the YCombinator program in 2008 and have now joined forces with Eric Diep to create addictive mobile applications. When he’s not mapping the destiny of the future mobile world, he likes to flail his arms around and yell ‘wild boar!’. For the most part, it’s received kindly.

7 Feb 2012, 3:03pm
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YellowPages is a HackDays Champion, HackVAN registration open

A huge round of applause for YellowPages – they’ve stepped up to be the HackDays Champion sponsor for the HackVan event. We’re talking to lots of other great companies about being part of this event – get in touch if you want to be a part of it.

We’ve also put up our Eventbrite registration page. If you want to take part, go and sign up now. I guarantee you that this event will sell out.

The main thing we’re looking for is a venue. My company, iQmetrix, is the organizing sponsor and we originally thought we could fit everyone into our office, since we hold a lot of meetups here. But after talking to Leila and her plans to GO BIG with a 100 developers participating, we knew we needed bigger space.

Does your organization or an organization you know of have space for 100 developers, their laptops, and a spare corner to keep some beer and snacks? Get in touch!

For the rest of you, register for HackVan 2012. Here are the important dates:

Friday, March 23rd: Mixer Mingle Meet and Greet – meet other developers that will be participating, share ideas, find a partner. A chance for the rest of the Vancouver community to join us and get excited by the day ahead. Don’t stay out too late, you’ve got to program tomorrow!

Saturday, March 24th: API Hack Day – you’ll spend the entire day writing code solo or in small groups, integrating with our API sponsors, getting fed great food, and then being judged and winning prizes.

Register for HackVAN 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia  on Eventbrite

1 Feb 2012, 10:45pm
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Save the date for HackREGINA and HackVAN

HackDays LogoHi! Consider this post your “save the date” entry for the HackREGINA and HackVAN events.

What are these events about? In short, these will be one day events where developers work alone or in teams to build applications that use the HackDays sponsor APIs to build interesting apps. The best apps win great prizes. Want more details? Read the kick off post from last year.

I’m Boris Mann, and I’ll be your host for the HackVAN event, and Chad McCallum will be hosting HackREGINA.

Last year, Chad participated as part of a winning team in HackVAN and I was involved as a judge. This year, we wanted to get more heavily involved. We also both work for iQmetrix, which will be participating as an API sponsor for the very first public release of our API.

Chad in the meantime has moved back to Regina, where he’s going to lead the charge in pulling together Regina’s first hackathon

For HackVAN, we’re looking to make it a lot bigger than the year before. That’s the first ask: if you’ve got a space that can fit 80 – 100 developers and their laptops, contact us!

Want to get involved in either HackREGINA or HackVAN as a sponsor, API provider, or help out with organizing? Leave a comment to get in touch.

For now, follow the blog to stay up to date, and save the date!

27 Jan 2012, 2:14am
HackRegina HackVAN
1 comment

HackVAN Judges

What would a hacking event be without judges! Our HackVAN judges will be picking the winners this afternoon. In alphabetical order:

Kenshi Arasaki, Founder, A Thinking Ape.
Kenshi has dreams of creating the next great mobile social experience.  Prior to co-founding A Thinking Ape, he was helping to engineer great things at Amazon.  Kenshi and his partner Wilkins went through the YCombinator program in 2008 and have now joined forces with Eric Diep to create addictive mobile applications. When he’s not mapping the destiny of the future mobile world, he likes to flail his arms around and yell ‘wild boar!’.  For the most part, it’s received kindly.

Boris Mann, Entrepreneur and Digital Strategist.
Boris Mann has been blogging and using web tools for over 10 years. What began as an exploration of digital tools became a career building startups and web solutions. Boris has a passion for engaging communities, from distributed open source teams to the local innovators in Vancouver. He is one of the founding organizers of Northern Voice, the first Canadian blogging conference. He also is active in many developer communities, helping put on BarCamps, DemoCamps, and the Open Source CMS Summit on multiple continents. He holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Victoria, where he went after a coin flip made him choose between university and becoming a professional chef.

Carl Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer, Unbounce
Carl has been building software professionally for over 20 years, and specifically has been constructing web-based software since 1996. As CTO and Chief Software Architect for one of Bodog’s largest suppliers, he is well-versed in building and maintaining high-performance, highly available web sites.
Carl is a passionate yet practical technology visionary, who brings to Unbounce a wealth of experience in software development and technology infrastructure management.

20 Aug 2011, 5:14pm
1 comment

HackVAN: Everything you need to know

HackVAN is tomorrow and I hope you are as excited about seeing us as we are about seeing you! Got questions? We have answers. But first: the Meet and Greet this evening Friday August 19:

HackVAN Meet & Greet Details:

  • When: Friday August 19, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Where: The Irish Heather: 210 Carrall Street in Gastown
  • What: Beers, chips, snacks, cheers.

Come and meet API providers, developers and your hacking community.

Tomorrow we will spend the entire day at the Mozilla offices starting at 9 AM.

  • Where: Mozilla Vancouver, 163 West Hastings Street, Suite 200- Vancouver
  • Time: 9 AM to 6 PM
  • Registration: we are sold out!

HackVAN  is a disposable cups free event! So that means you will need to bring your portable mug, thermos or whatever! If you don’t have one, well you still have time to head to the store and get yourself a fancy one. Make sure you can use it for both cold beverages and hot ones and you will be set for the next decade! Help us reduce and reuse! And now on to what you really have been waiting for.

HackVAN Schedule:

  • 9:00 – Breakfast and introductions: Meet your HackVAN organizers and all the developers, get acquainted with the space + final schedule + grab a breakfast of champions!
  • 9:30 – API presentation: learn about the APIs available. Each API provider will have 5 minutes to introduce their API, discuss its salient features and get you excited about using it.
  • 10:15 – Open Planning: come up with hacking idea and build a team. This is a white board exercise: if you have an idea that you would like to work on, just puts its name down on the white board; if you are looking to build a team, identify yourself to other developers with the skill sets that you need. If you are looking for ideas, identify yourself to other developers as well.
  • 10:30 – Hacking setup and start. You claim a little spot of the office with your team or by yourself and start working on your project. All the API providers will be on hand the entire day to provide support.
  • Noon – Lunch
  • 1:00 – Hacking
  • 5:00 – Application presentation – 3 minutes for each presenter!
  • 6:00 – Judging and prizes
  • 6:30 – Off to nearby pub for celebrations!

Am I allowed to use third party APIs (APIs not provided via HackVAN) to build my application?

Yes. But your usage of the third party APIs needs to be in addition to the HackVAN APIs. Also keep in mind that judging is partially based on utilization of the provided APIs, though, so their use should be prominent. So you can use any API you wish to use during HackVAN as long as you use at least one of the provided APIs.

What if I don’t know anyone when I get to HackVAN or if I don’t have any ideas as to what to build?

Oh that’s an easy one: if you don’t know anyone, that will last about 10 seconds once you join us. Seriously. And as to ideas: not to worry, there will be plenty to choose from. The better question: will you have enough time to build your application and showcase it to the judges at the end of the day. We will do our best to connect you to other developers. Have a look at the API provided, the API gallery for each provider and do some research ahead of time on the APIs and what other developers have previously built.

What if I have an idea and a team already?

That’s a great start. Bring your team. Bring your idea. And get working as soon as you get to HackVAN. Perhaps we will be able to witness the birth of your startup right then and there!

How large can my team be?

Teams can be as large or as small as you like. Solo is okay, too. A 2-3 people team is ideal typically.

Now I love hacking events but what do I win if I build the best application ever?

HackVAN is not just all guts. There is glory and prizes!

What to bring:

  • Your Guestlist receipt. You don’t need to print it, an email you can show us is fine. HackVAN is sold out.
  • Your laptop.
  • Your mobile device if you are developing a mobile app.
  • Cables, chargers and connectors for any of the above.
  • A power bar – there are never enough power bars to go around!
  • Your data stick if you have one – could come in handy if our network gets overloaded :)
  • Your sense of humor and your ability to get along with everyone while in tight quarters!
  • Your portable coffee cup – we try to keep disposables to a minimum in our events.

What we will provide:

  • APIs, API support
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Coffee, tea, juice, pop
  • Snacks and beers at beer o’clock
  • Wireless internet access
  • A large LCD display for presentations, with HDMI and SVGA input (we recommend you bring your own connectors, but we will have some handy as well)
  • Smiles!
  • An awesome developer community!

If I have questions whom do I get in touch with?

You can drop us an email anytime with any question. We are happy to help. You can call me directly 416 624 7540.

HackVAN is made possible by our awesome sponsors: Context.IOFreshbooks, Grow 2011, Mozilla, TinEye, Twilio, YellowAPI.

19 Aug 2011, 12:28pm
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  • HackREGINA Location Sponsor

    Innovation Place - Innovation Place is home to approximately 40 clients in six buildings, employing more than 1,600 people.

  • HackREGINA Event Sponsors

    iQmetrix Software - At iQmetrix, we create great experiences for retailers, their employees, and the end consumer.

    GB Internet Solutions - We’re proud parents to GasBuddy.com and OpenStoreLoyalty.com, and while we don’t like to play favorites, the GasBuddy app has over 30 million downloads!

  • HackREGINA Community Sponsors

    YellowAPI - Our curated local search API is built off of the strength of the Yellow Pages database of over 1.5 million geo-localized business listings and associated rich content.

    Canadian Youth Business Foundation - Are you an aspiring young entrepreneur, aged 18 to 39, with a solid business idea? Are you looking for the financial support and expert advice that will help you bring your great business idea to life? The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) can help.

  • HackREGINA API Sponsors

    eHealth Saskatchewan - eHealth Saskatchewan employees and consultants are committed to making a difference for Saskatchewan residents by supporting health care providers through making important clinical information available electronically.

    Cashtie - InComm’s new Cashtie API opens up access to retailers point of sale (POS) systems, allowing any approved developer to sell online goods to consumers at these high value retail locations—opening up the possibility for web and mobile applications to accept cash payments for virtual goods, services and utilities at top retailers.

    Twilio - Twilio powers the future of business communications, enabling phones, VoIP, and messaging to be embedded into web, desktop, and mobile software.

    Wit - Wit allows you to build a Siri-like speech interface for you app in 5 min! It's an API that turns speech or text into JSON.

    Windows Azure - Add a cloud backend to your apps in minutes, enabling your apps to reach every user on every platform. With support for popular languages and open REST APIs, you’ll be ready to integrate Windows Azure into your apps in minutes. Use any of Windows Azure’s APIs to complete your hacks. You’ll need to activate a FREE trial or your MSDN Windows Azure benefits prior to using Windows Azure.

  • Header Image by hyfen/flickr