Whisking the Weather!

Scott Wilson-Billing
Apache OpenWhisk
Published in
2 min readApr 4, 2017


I’m part of a small team that has developed a unique and fun weather app called Weather Gods.

Weather Gods has a feature whereby users can receive custom, personalised, push notifications about the weather. This is achieved by running a heartbeat process between a remote service and the app. The heartbeat is periodically sent using a background push notification. On receipt of the heartbeat, the app will check the weather and generate notifcations based on your preferences. We currently support English, French, Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese as language options with plans to add more.

Weather Gods uses a combination of weather data from IBM Weather Company and Dark Sky. We absolutely love the weather data from IBM and our roadmap is looking to extend this further with real time weather and health related weather alerts such as pollen.

Previous versions of the app have used Amazon Web Services combined with Urban Airship to deliver the heartbeat. One of the disadvantages of our AWS approach to sending the heartbeat, was that we always had the server running, despite the fact the heartbeat was only sent every minute. This meant a server to feed and water, not to mention running costs for compute we weren’t actually using all the time.

I decided it was time to invest in serverless — save some money and not have all the stress and effort involved in keeping a server running with latest patches and upgrades. I took a look at Amazons AWS lambda but found it somewhat cumbersome to setup and use, especially with Java as a programming language. So, I started to look around for other solutions and stumbled across OpenWhisk. Wow, what a difference! The whole triggers, rules and actions paradigm seem to have been well thought out and I loved the fact I could develop in Swift — hey our app is written in Swift, so why not develop the backend in Swift as well!

With the help of the OpenWhisk community (extremely helpful and responsive) I was up and running with a complete replacement within days. And, as an added bonus, we were able to seamlessly integrate Bluemix push notifications without a drop of code, saving us time and money.

Weather Gods release 1.1. is now live on the App Store with a heartbeat being driven by OpenWhisk and Bluemix push notifications.

Download Weather Gods from the iTunes App Store