I was talking about railsday a few days ago with Carl (we are thinking about entering if we come up with a good enough idea) but it occurred to me that it is getting increasingly difficult to create a truly groundbreaking app.
When Google launched gmail everyone was wowed by the new style of user interface they provided. A large part of this was due to their use of Ajax. It didn’t take long before the number of other sites started using Ajax, and Ruby on Rails now has excellent bundled support. This has led to some excellent uses of the Ajax that are really pushing a paradigm shift in web application user-interface design, with some of the most succesfull examples being written by the folks at 37signals.
However, as more sites are being released using these new interface technologies and ideas the bar is being raised. For example sticking with 37signals ouput, we first saw Basecamp and Tadalist, some simple ideas but brought together in a well thought out way. They created a lot of buzz and rightly so, but 37signals latest offering, backpack, has not created nearly the excitement that their previous sites did, despite being a more complex and at least as effective use of the technology.
Because of this railsday will probably produce some very good apps, but it would take something very very special to recreate the initial Ajax buzz. I am not expecting miracles, the competition only allows 24 hours of work per project after all, but the bar for ‘special’ apps has been raised high.