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Erlang meets baseball: welcome!

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

In this post I would to tell you something about my collaboration for TOK Baseball, the free iPad application created by the startup

Last summer I was contacted by Fabrizio Capobianco, the CEO and founder of for a possible Erlang freelance job. During our discussion Fabrizio introduced me his idea about a brand new iPad application: TOK Baseball. The concept behind the application was very interesting; in today’s society more and more people are living away from their relatives or childhood friends, loosing the oppurtinity of watching a game togheter, and that is really sad.

If you are a sport fanatic as I am, you know what I mean. I believe that nothing beats the experience of watching a game togheter with your buddies: commenting a bad tackle, complaining your own team bad play or screaming for an amazing victory is really something! Here is where comes in.

TOK Baseball is an iPad application to be used as a second screen while you are watching a baseball game on tv, but unlike many other applications it doesn’t consist on a really boring number of Twitter status updates about the match. TOK Baseball allows you to invite up to three friends and have a real voice conversation while the app pushes live stats about the game you are watching. The application is not intended to substitute your tv, it’s rather a good way to enrich your experience, a way to bring back the concept of sociality in your tv/sport routine.

At this point, I may hear many of you saying: “Ok Paolo, nice ad for the application…but how is this related at all with Erlang?“. Well, Fabrizio and the other guys at are nice people so they let me write a little bit about my collaboration with them in my blog. First of all you may be interested in knowing that Erlang plays a major role in the application backend: the social core of the app is actually implemented using as base eJabberd, the very famous XMPP server you should already have heard of.

My work for was in fact devoted to the implementation of some eJabberd internal components, mostly related to the concept of friendship. I have to say that I did my last “real” work with XMPP during my bachelor thesis experience, so it was really good to go back and put my hands on eJabberd and Erlang stuff.

eJabberd code can be really hard to grasp since there is much code to go through and most of the times you have to jump from file to file, but once you start knowing how it works and its basic principles you can really enjoy it and undestand why it is still one of the most famous and appreciated Erlang applications out there.

Was it a good idea to use Erlang and eJabberd for the application backend? In my humble opinion it was indeed. Just think about this: for each game, you can have a huge number of users logging in and out, moving from match to match, making friendships and inviting friends…all of this must be very reliable and fast, especially because it must be connected to the real time voice experience. That’s way I strongly believe that by using Erlang the crew made a sound decision.

One more think: development is everything but slow! Soon the company will be launching TOK Football, the perfect companion for all the football fanatic….you know what? I hope they will have the application for Italian soccer soon enough!

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