Summary of CorpScores’ Rookie Season

CorpScores is a service that provides up-to-the-minute score updates for Drum Corps International competitions. I started development in early June and was able to get the core functionality (user signup, SMS notifications) working in 2 weeks. This was just in time for the DCI season to begin. The automatic score scraper followed a week later. Over the season I accumulated 200 users and sent out 35,000 SMS notifications. This is a quick rundown of my takeaways from the season.

Market Research

I did this as a learning project in between graduation and starting work so I didn’t bother doing any real research. If I had I probably would’ve spent the time on Android instead (DCI has an app for iOS, but not Android). Also, I had to lower my user base expectations quite a bit during the course of the season.

Testing — Good

I learned my testing lesson the hard way builing [ummbNet](https://github.com/kevana/ummbNet) and wasn’t eager for a repeat. This time I took advantage of cookiecutter-flask to provide the skeleton architecture and test fixtures for the service. Starting with a full test-suite from the beginning made development much smoother than it was with ummbNet.

Logging is hard

One thing I didn’t do right was production logging. Due to good testing I rarely had to debug issues in production, but when I did the lack of good logs definitely slowed me down. After the season ended I added Sentry to both the service and the automatic score scraper. Next season this will help me catch bugs much sooner.

Production incidents

Through the summer there were three incidents where the service got stuck in a loop and sent duplicate notifications to users. Each time I was able to temporarily disable notifications and manually resolve the issue. All of these incidents resulted from the automatic scraper behaving unexpectedly when it encountered certain error conditions. Had I implemented better logging, I would have uncovered these errors sooner.

Platform, not service

In the big picture, CorpScores needs to be a platform, not just another small tool. Today news, scores, forums, and stats all exist in the DCI community, but many were built before mobile usability was a concern and are very fragmented. Because of time limitations, I was only able to implement one facet of the big picture.

Revenue

I decided at the beginning of the season not to try to monetize corpScores this season. This was a good choice, if only because the service I built isn’t very conducive to traditional ads. In the long term, this service will continue to be offered as a free convenience. Other parts of the platform will have better opportunities for monetization.

Overall

I think overall the season was a great success. I hope next season I’ll have the opportunity to work with DCI and community partners to create a full platform experience.

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