Tag Archives: tulsa

Mozilla & Tulsa Web Devs

tl;dr - Mozilla sponsored Tulsa Web Devs for all of 2012. This year Tulsa Web Devs:

  • Grew to 215 members
  • Facilitated 3 spin-off groups
  • Had 11 monthly meetings
  • Had 50 weekly coworking days
  • Had 4 hack days
  • Ran 2 web tracks at local conferences
  • Hosted 2 hackathons
  • Participated in 1 Startup Weekend
  • Helped draft 1 City Council Resolution
  • Worked on 32 open-source web projects

I'd also like to see what other Mozilla remotees are doing in their local web communities ... ?


We've added a bunch of great new members this year. I won't name any specific names for fear of forgetting someone, but our members have started spin-off groups like Red Dirt Web Designers, Red Dirt Graphic Designers, and Tulsa DrupalDevs. We also have a number of WordPress designers and dev's - though they haven't made their own sub-group yet. But our members have presented at OKC WordPress meetup and OKC.js May and June meetings.


Our average meeting attendance jumped when we moved from Fab Lab Tulsa to i2E location downtown. We went from ~12 in January to ~30 in November.

By far my favorite meeting was our August meeting where we asked anyone and everyone to simply answer the question "What have you been working on?" in 5 minutes or less where the lightning talks ranged from Couch to django to WordPress to Node.js. I hope to do more meetings like this; even if we pick a single topic, I'd love to have multiple presenters for it.


This year we finally - consistently - hosted (at and with Fab Lab Tulsa) coworking days (almost) every Friday. Attendance is anywhere from 1-2 to 10-12, with notable spikes anytime to dev's from consumeraffairs.com make the field trip. 😉

Many of our open-source project ideas come up during coworking days, and we give each other all kinds of technical advice - some of us have saved dozens of hours of work by simply asking a tech question around the tables.

Hack Days

Our hack days typically involved or included working on our open-source projects to prepare for other events. We started the year strong with Hack Days - doing one every-other-month to set up for our Spring Hackathon - but then we ran out of steam. Probably due to ...

~Web Tracks

This year we organized content for 2 "(sorta) web tracks" at established local technology events - a Gov2.0 track at Tulsa School of Dev, and an HTML5 track at Tulsa Tech Fest.

Our Gov2.0 track was pretty much a flop - it's not our area of expertise, the overall event had poor promotion, and the event logistics were terrible.

The HTML5 track at Tulsa Tech Fest was really good. I got Yury to come over from OKC to speak, Patrick to give a fresh edition of his CSS talk from the previous year, and even got Olivier Bloch to speak about HTML5 for mobile cross-platform app development.

Both of our tracks lead into ...


Our Spring Hackathon focused on Gov2.0 and "open data" projects. In 2011 we - especially John Whitlock - made a couple of very valuable and noticeable "open data" projects: TRIF and the Tulsa Transit GTFS project. Motivated by their success, we tried to do more of the same type of projects. We also increased the duration from 24 to 48 hours. We made some cool stuff, but, IMO, the format was too long and the domain was too narrow.

Our 2nd annual Fall Hackathon snapped back to 24 hours and focused only on "apps" - any app would do. Mobile web, HTML5, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, whatever. We did *some* promotion but not so much to be stressful, and we still had a good turnout and made some good projects and progress. I think it was just about the Right Size and Scope™ to be a sustainable yearly event.

Startup Weekend

A bunch of Tulsa Web Devs participated in this year's Tulsa Startup Weekend, creating projects like TFDD.co, Wallcade, and Picirus (this year's winner!). I also started a GeoNotes app aimed at Firefox OS, but our team was a bunch of backend dev's trying to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript so I wasn't confident enough to even show it at the closing ceremony.

City Council Resolution

Our Gov2.0 work attracted lots of attention from local civic interest groups, including Transit Matters, Tulsa Now, Tulsa Young Professionals, and eventually the Tulsa City Council itself. So, one of our city councilors contacted me about how to encourage and support the kind of projects and work we're doing. I suggested we should pass a City of Tulsa Open Source Resolution like some I had heard about from Portland, San Francisco, and Vancouver. It's still in draft stage but we hope to get it on a city council meeting agenda sometime next year.


We made too many projects to list them all, so just check out our Tulsa Web Devs GitHub org page or our Projects page. Our projects have spanned from local consumer interest to irc bots to wordpress plugins to open data.


What does all this have to do with Mozilla? In running the group, I've tried hard to NOT make it all about Mozilla, but Tulsa Web Devs now boasts 1 Mozilla Contributor & 1 Mozilla Rep, 2 Open Web Apps, and dozens of engaged Firefox users. Now many members have asked me to bring MORE Mozilla activity into the group - to host a Mozilla hack day, bring speakers in from Mozilla, and help people contribute to Mozilla's websites. I'm looking forward to more collaboration between Mozilla & Tulsa Web Devs in 2013!

I'd also like to see what other Mozilla remotees are doing in their local web communities. Got a good story to share?

Tulsa School of Dev

Tulsa School of DevThis year's Tulsa School of Dev had lots of changes from last year.

  1. New event "chairperson" - Sean Whitesell
  2. New event venue - TCC Northeast Campus
  3. New event website platform - WordPress with custom plugins
  4. New event focus - "hands-on" content

First, the rough edges

For one, we (i.e., Tulsa Web Devs) didn't polish up the website as much as we should have. It was clumsy to do speakers, talks, and technologies with custom post types. I'm still looking for a good open-source lanyrd/eventbrite-type cms - anyone know of one?

TCC Northeast wasn't a good venue - the campus has a weird layout; the common area wasn't suited for lunch and rooms were far away from registration and not conducive to a good hallway track.

Aside from the above issues, I liked the event.

I especially liked mingling with the developers. I had a chance to meet Lindsey, Cory, and Matt from The Div and I hope we do many more events together. I also met Jesse Harlin who did a mobile HTML5 geolocating note app for the 2nd half of the web track. Tulsa Web Devs got together to watch the ustream of the April meeting of OKC.js - the group Jesse and Vance Lucas are running in OKC. I also rubbed shoulders with developers from outside our web community bubble - i.e., mostly Enterprise and Microsoft developers. I still wish there was more interaction between the two "camps" though, along with the sizable Java group in town.

Microsoft was really cool - they gave away a free Windows Phone to attendees who built and published a Windows Phone app that day. I may have to ask if we can give phones away at Tulsa Tech Fest to HTML5 mobile web app developers - let them pick between a B2G phone or a Windows Phone. 😉

I'm looking forward to next year's School of Dev. My notes for improvement:

  1. Improve the format preparation (talks in the morning, workshops in the afternoon?)
  2. Book a better venue
  3. Promote earlier

Most importantly, we'll keep bringing Tulsa area developers together!

Tulsa Web Devs press tour

This Land PressOr as close to anything like a press release that we'll ever have. This Land Press ran a Government 2.0 in Oklahoma article and featured Tulsa Web Devs! w00t!

They also did a live stream from our Tulsa Hackathon event last fall.

Thanks This Land for helping us tell our story!

{{ your_town }} Hackathon

Main Street PixelsLast weekend we did our Tulsa Hackathon - the summary post has links to sites and code we made and a local media live stream where I talk too much like an idiot.

It was a great experience. Mozilla sponsored our after-party (thanks Stormy!) where I emphasized Mozilla's mission to open and improve the web for everyone - from 450 million Firefox users all over the world to 40 developers in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here's a quick summary of the projects that more-or-less finished (more details at the website):

At Mozilla we have lots of remote employees who live in towns outside of the "hugeness bubbles" like Silicon Valley. I want to encourage any and all remote employees to get involved with their local technology and developer communities. To promote the Hackathon, I went on a whirlwind tour of our local groups - I spoke about Solr @ Tulsa Java, mobile web development @ Mobile Tulsa, attended a Tulsa .Net developers meeting, arranged an HTML5 track at Tulsa Tech Fest (where Dave gave us the big auditorium stage!), and attended our community leadership town hall. It was tiring, humbling, and inspiring. I'm still processing it all.

Programs like Mozilla Reps help amazing and effective volunteers to promote the Mozilla mission in local communities. In fact, out of all this activity, one of our Tulsa Web Dev's is applying to the program. But that shouldn't offset employees evangelizing for a free, open, and better web right in our own back yards!

[‘Tulsa %s’ % e for e in (‘Tech Fest’, ‘Hackathon’)]

Tulsa Driller in PixelsTulsa Tech Fest

In addition to our work on MDN, this is a busy week for me in Tulsa - the annual Tulsa Tech Fest is Friday Oct 7th. Our Tulsa Web Devs group is doing an HTML5 track; my talk is the intro - HTML5: Code for all the platforms! (Soon to be a link to the slides)

TTF is a Microsoft-heavy event, but we've come a long way since TTF 2007 when Steven and I did the entire PHP track ourselves, covering Eclipse & PDT, PHPUnit & Selenium, CI w/ Phing & CruiseControl, DB refactoring w/ dbdeploy - sophisticated topics for 2007!

As far as the Tech Fest goes, I'm really looking forward to the community town hall the night before - developer group leaders from all around Tulsa get together to talk about how to grow the Tulsa developer community. I'm eager to see how the other groups are doing and to share experiences.

I'll spend all of Friday in the HTML5 room, unless I'm pulled off to the

Tulsa Hackathon

Tulsa Hackathon is a big event for me, as I've done a bunch of work for it.

It all started when Tulsa Web Devs took it upon ourselves to put Metro Tulsa Transit Authority data onto Google Maps. After a few hack days we made it work - barely. We still don't have all of MTTA's data, and we didn't make a shape file to smooth out the way Google draws the bus routes to match the roads, but we did pass the GTFS validation test! All that's left is to get MTTA to use our tool to publish the feed for Google - something that's proving harder than any of the code, I think.

In any case, most of us enjoyed working on a cool project that improved Tulsa. So, I reached out to other organizations to see what other projects we might try. Over the last couple months, we've set up projects for INCOG (another transit org in the area), Tulsa City County Library, Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, and Fab Lab Tulsa. We're an official Random Hacks of Kindness community event!

Scott Phillips and I have arranged all the facilities and venues, logistics, swag, meals, etc. I'm anxious to see how much we actually get done. But really, there are just two goals - improve Tulsa, and our developer community.

Thank you Stormy (and Mozilla) for helping to sponsor our Hackathon! Everyone in Tulsa loves having Mozilla involved! I love that Mozilla promotes the web for public benefit - from hundreds of millions of Firefox users to a few dozen hackers in Tulsa Oklahoma.