Several months ago, Engine Yard created the Rails Development Directory. We created this directory because we didn't see a web-based resource that listed professional web development firms with Rails experience that had the oomph of customer endorsements. There was "Working with Rails", which was more focused on individual developers, and then for true freelancers there was oDesk, but nothing for this part of the market.
The model for the directory was that any firm could add an account, and once they received three customer endorsements, they would be checked as "confirmed" and prioritized in search results. Firms could also add up to three "showcase" projects so that customers could click through and see the quality of work. The goal was to let the work (and the customer endorsements) speak for themselves.
So far, the directory has been pretty successful. It now has about 250 development firms listed. Although we built in a "request for work" submission feature, it's mostly being used by potential development customers as a way to research firms, rather than as a way to submit work requests, but we have high hopes here. So far, we've had a few problems with spam accounts and bogus customer endorsements but not many. As far as development details, the site was built from scratch in Ruby on Rails in 3 weeks, then added 3 weeks of polish before launch.
There are 272 customer endorsements for member work, and as you'll see from the code, currently, the formula used to return search results is pretty basic:
- first it includes companies with matching or lower minimum budgets
- then it includes companies with matching locations (by state in the US and by country everywhere else - this filter is optional)
- then it orders by whether a company is confirmed (has 3 endorsements)
- then it orders by how many endorsements a company has
- then it returns results randomly.
If your company profile is confirmed and you have lots of endorsements, all else being equal, you will rank higher in the search results. But in our experience, matching by budget and location is very important, as it is a qualifying step for most potential customers.
Continuing our support of open source projects and initiatives, and after discussing the directory's future with some of the community, we felt it made sense to release this directory application as open source, and today we're officially releasing the source code of the application in a generalized form that can quickly and easily be customized and put into use by anyone that needs a directory site.
You can find the Rails Directory source code released under the MIT License on GitHub at http://github.com/engineyard/rails_dev_directory.
Feel free to fork the repo and review it, play with it, or modify it as you see fit. If you're interested in contributing to the source code, or have any feedback, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credit for developing the application in large part goes to Paul Campbell, Nick French and Ben De Jesus here at Engine Yard.