PennApps 2013 Hackathon Runner-Up SparkTab Could Be Your New Browser Start Page

I attended PennApps 2013 this weekend and got to judge the winners out of 20 excellent finalists. The 48-hour event brought out some amazing talent from many colleges across the nation but one product, SparkTab really stuck out as a unique and interesting solution to a thorny problem.

SparkTab is kind of like QuickSilver for your browser. Instead of setting your new tab page to, say, Google, you would add SparkTab. From the text entry bar, you can perform searches, send texts, and even post to Facebook and Twitter. Think of it as a quicker way to do lots of stuff online without having to enter a URL or click on search results.

It connects to a number of services using URL calls or API connections. There is a full set of commands that is available just by typing in the text bar. You can even send arguments to various services including a built-in SSH service accessible just by typing SSH: in the box.

The project is obviously quite unpolished and I suspect that Greyson Parrelli’s website, where the program is hosted, will be hosed once we all give this thing a try. The team, Greyson, Ben Chen, Michael Toth, and Zachary Daniels, are all students at Lehigh University and this is not their first hackathon, as evidenced by the utility and beauty of the interface.

The product isn’t for everyone but as a sort of quick and dirty method to get a few things done from a brand new browser tab it seems to be quite useful. I could definitely see them adding more features (and advertisements) and making at least some sort of small service business out of the project. It also just goes to show you what a few bright lads and a little CSS can do without sleep and hyped on on soda, beer, and pizza.