Ipsum As A Service is a simple weekend project I made because I saw that someone had made Hipsum, which I found to be a fun little thing, but it got me thinking.
I had previously made a text analyser and generator of my own in Ruby. This was in it self an evening project I did some time ago when I was too tired of doing work-related coding. This project took some arbitrary text, calculated the N-gram of the text, then made a weighted average tree of this. So, given a start-word, it would give you a randomised word, but weighted toward words that often succeeds the start-word. It would generate text like this by recursively doing this process, which often results in semi-correct sentences which often are semi- or fully hilarious.
Because I already had this text-generator, I though that, why could I not make an ipsum API that allows the users to upload their own text? Why not let them upload their favourite book, news article, or wiki article, and have that be the seed of an ipsum?
3 or 4 hours later I had the first prototype fully working using Sinatra and Thin, in combination with a slightly updated version of this ruby text analyser mentioned above. It was very ugly though. Only html, no css. Black and white everything, but definitely working.
The next day I though. Why not spend 30 minutes on styling, to make it look a bit better. So I did, and it started looking alright compared to the plain html version. Of course, the colours I chose were #abcdef and #fedcba, naturally. After this round of styling it was looking much better, so I decided to put it on Heroku, because it is super-easy and then I could show it to my friends.
Some of my friends really liked it and said "I will definitely use this service, but, why not buy a cheap domain for it?". So 20 minutes and 2 dollars later ipsumaas.com was bought and set up. I decided to add CloudFlare around the domain for some improved availability and performance + DDoS protection, which is always nice.
At this point I thought: "This is actually useful, probably, maybe. Why not put it on hackernews too?" That was a small success in the grand scheme of things, but it was big for me! In 1 hour something like 200 people had visited the website. It was great fun to watch in Woopra!
Because so many people seemed to get in and try it, I decided to make a simple counter which counted how many ipsums were generated, because numbers are fun!
In the first day 430 people had entered the website and tried it out. Of course, this died of in the following days, but still, about 500 people saw this! Fun times!
At the time of writing this 629 ipsums have been generated, but still, noone except me have added new text-styles. Too bad, as it is the most fun part. It is probably a good indication that my landing page needs work! That will be for some other time, if I feel like it.