Seven Questions with Developers: @myfreeweb

This is the latest in our weekly series Seven Questions for Developers on App.net, where we ask a different developer the same set of questions to learn a bit more about the people behind the apps. If you’d like to participate, contact @ben.

Our next developer is @myfreeweb, a web developer at a small company based in Moscow, Russia. @myfreeweb does not like vodka and bears. He also dislikes push notifications.

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 1.52.14 PMTell us about your App.net app. What are you looking to accomplish with it?

SupportApp is a Get Satisfaction-style customer support app for App.net. I want people who make App.net clients to use it for supporting their apps.

What qualities make a great app?

High performance, good UI, long request timeouts for mobile connections (eg. Twitterrific 4 was completely useless on my 3G), not losing data, x-callback url support for iOS apps.

What tools are important to you as a developer?

Heroku, GitHub, Chrome, iTerm2, tmux, vim, git, fish, ack, and ctags.

Why did you decide to build something on App.net?

I had a few ideas about annotations. That particular feature really inspired me, and I understood App.net being “not just a Twitter alternative” after annotations were introduced.

What got you started writing code?

When I was about six years old, I was bored of playing games, and I learned how to write DOS scripts (*.bat, if I remember it correctly) that write words to the console. A few years later, I found MIDletPascal on the internet and started trying to make mobile Java applications. Some time later I learned PHP and started making web apps. Then JavaScript, Python, Ruby, C, Java, Clojure, Scala and so on.

Any advice for aspiring developers (all the young coders out there)?

Learn a lot of languages. Use Vim or Emacs. Or both. Watch Destroy All Software screencasts. Find the UNIX way in x-callback-url and the Single Responsibility Principle. And other things.

Don’t forget preprocessors (SASS, TypeScript, etc.) aren’t a new hipster thing, see m4. Your assumptions about real-life data like date/time and people’s names are wrong.

And, by the way, gender should be a text field (like on MetaFilter and Diaspora). Unless you only care about personal ad targeting (like Facebook).

Speaking of ads, when you think about ads, think Fusion/Carbon/Deck/BuySellAds, not AdSense.

Use HTML5 input types when developing for the web. Send email in plain text. Posting a link to your open source project to Reddit gives you 50 watchers on GitHub for free.

Don’t tell people to RTFM.

Write good documentation (if you want to learn how, look at Python projects. Python has a great culture of documentation.)

Read this: http://blog.wilshipley.com/2011/04/success-and-farming-vs-mining.html

Try making a simple content app (a scrolling list with pictures and text) for Sony PlayStation Vita using their UI framework.

When you’re not coding you’re…

Probably taking photos of random stuff. Or listening to podcasts, watching videos, reading books or blog posts.

App.net Podcast Episode 5

This week @Dalton discusses the latest version of our invitations program, Paypal integration, stream marker support in Alpha, Omega and private messages, #ADNSecretSanta, and this week’s Instagram news. As always, member questions are answered at the end.

  • 0:35 Latest iteration of inviting your friends to App.net
  • 5:25 Paypal integration
  • 7:00 Stream marker support in Alpha
  • 9:45 Omega and private messages update
  • 11:25 #ADNsecretsanta
  • 13:45 Instragram TOS changes
  • 17:45 The siloing of social platforms
  • 20:00 Member questions

Thanks to @failgunner, @cdevroe, @timpritlove, @hwit, @max, @mlv, @dipead, @mrbeefy, @marsch, @paulkruczynski

Subscribe to the RSS of the podcast or subscribe through iTunes.

If you have a question for a future podcast, a suggestion, or other feedback, send your thoughts to @ADN using #ADNpodcast.

V2: An easier way for your friends to try out App.net

appdotnet-invitesWe are proud to release the second phase of our invitations experiment. The major change in this phase is that we have removed the credit card requirement from the invitation process.

The latest revision of our invitation system works as follows:

  • App.net members on a yearly plan have access to a small number of invitations.
  • These invitations can be used by App.net members to invite specific friends they think would appreciate a one-month trial period of the service.
  • The recipient of the invitation will be able to click through a link contained within an email and create an account.
  • During the signup process, the invitee will be asked to select a plan but NO credit card information will be required.
  • When invitees sign up for an account after clicking on an invite, they will automatically follow the person that invited them, and vice versa.
  • At the end of the trial period, we will send invitees an email asking them to enter their credit card information if they wish to continue their membership.
  • If invitees do not enter credit card information after their free trial, they will have a 60-day grace period to sign up and/or download their data. After that period, their data will be deleted and their usernames will be released.

If you are an App.net user on a yearly plan, click here to see how many invites are currently available to you. Note that if you have sent out invitations that are unclaimed, the invitee will see the latest version of the signup process.

As we monitor the program’s performance, we’ll continue to keep the number of available invites small. We are doing our best to make constant iterative improvements, and will continue learn and make additional changes to the invitation flow in the near future.

As always, we want your feedback. Send comments to @ADN.

Stream markers now supported in Alpha

Last month, we added support for Stream Markers to the App.net API. The stream marker feature makes it easy to maintain your reading context across different App.net clients.

As of today, alpha.app.net supports stream markers. Please note: this feature is off in the alpha web client by default. Please go here to turn it on.

How it works

Alpha will show your current stream location using a small red ribbon, pictured here:

stream markers

When you scroll up or down in your feed, alpha will automatically update the state of your stream marker.

To be transparent, implementing this feature in a web application was somewhat more complex than we expected. Given that, feedback and suggestions on our implementation are welcome.

Thanks,

The App.net team

 

 

Seven Questions with Developers: @swhitley

This is the latest in our weekly series Seven Questions for Developers on App.net, where we ask a different developer the same set of questions to learn a bit more about the people behind the apps. If you’d like to participate, contact @ben.

Our seventh Developer is @swhitley, who is located in San Francisco where he works as an enterprise applications developer for a global law firm.

Tell us about your App.net app. What are you looking to accomplish with it?

swhitleyDotDot is a Windows Phone client that I created shortly after signing up for App.net.  At the time, a Windows Phone client didn’t exist, so I built one. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so after the initial release, I couldn’t stop adding and refining features.  I’ve been happy to make it available to other Windows Phone users and I have a really supportive group of people who help me with feedback and testing.

Once I feel that DotDot has reached a certain level as a client, I’d like to introduce experimental features and explore new directions. With a background in business apps, I’m thinking about opportunities in B2B or B2C communications.

In addition to DotDot, I’ve added App.net support to my open source authentication project, AuthPack, which saved me a lot of work when it was needed for the App.net Secret Santa website. I also have a WordPress plugin called ADN Profile that updates presence data via user annotations, and I’m currently updating my contact management app, Contaxio, for App.net.

What qualities make a great app?

This is a loaded question, so I’ll answer safely from my armchair. Great apps emerge through reductive design. Take away all of the non-essentials, the over-engineered additions, and the result is a great app.

What tools are important to you as a developer?

png;base64abc0ed3cf9116d7Microsoft’s Visual Studio is my primary tool for developing applications.  Although I use the pro version at work, the free version is just fine for Windows Phone development. I began my career as a COBOL developer, and I’ve worked with a number of decent development tools, but I can’t say enough positive things about the Visual Studio environment.

Why did you decide to build something on App.net?

I’d been building Twitter applications for over five years and was tired of the restrictions and general lack of respect that Twitter has been exhibiting toward its third-party developers. App.net is a refreshing take on what Twitter could have been. I love the freedom of the platform and the potential of App.net. I’ve also discovered a very supportive community here.

What got you started writing code? 

png;base64c619bd5805eb5b42I was really lucky to receive a Commodore 64 as a gift when I was a kid, but as I got older it turned into a dust magnet.  Even though I wrote several BASIC programs, I didn’t see myself as a programmer.  My first few jobs out of college involved writing, but I ended up spending more time developing clever macros and experimenting with digital images.  It took a bit, but I finally realized what I was meant to do. I love creating things with computers, and so I decided coding would become both my career and my creative outlet.

Any advice for aspiring developers (all the young coders out there)?

For anyone with even a small interest in programming, I always like to correct the myth about programming and mathematics. You don’t need to be a math whiz to be a good programmer. If you’re logical, patient, and love technology, give programming a try. For coders who have already taken the plunge, always experiment and never be afraid to fail.

When you’re not coding you’re…

Besides jabbering on App.net?  I spend a lot of time with my family.  We enjoy walking various Bay Area trails and visiting California’s incredible parks. I love to code, so any additional free time is full of other coding projects.

 

This Week’s RecApp

It’s time again for another recApp of new apps to hit the App.net Directory.  There is a universal iOS client, a PubSubHubbub implementation, a cross-platform sharing app and the first game available in the directory!

 

CWA’s PubSubHubbub for ADNfor the web CustomWebApps’ implementation of PubSubHubbub support for App.net RSS feeds.  Created by @ryantharp

 

 

Goldfinch - for iPhone & iPadGoldfinch helps you keep up with the best news, photos and videos shared by your friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook and App.net. Features include: Trending Today, Best of Yesterday, Easy Sharing, Save for Later and more.  Created by @rgcottrell

 

AdnMemory for the web - Have you got a good memory? The challenge: 40 cards made of 20 random App.net user profile images, be the fastest to turn over couples of matching cards.  Created by @flamingow

 

Ostfor the web - Ost connects to your services and puts them into spaces where you control what you see and share.  We are working to build a tool for streams of data that encourages creativity and productivity. Created by @useost

 

Twitterfeedtwitterfeed for the web Twitterfeed now allows you to feed your content (for example, blog posts or any other content that supports RSS feeds) to App.net, in addition to other social platforms. It enables publishers to bring content to a wider audience and track the performance through real-time stats.   Created by @mario & @twitterfeed

 

That’s it for this week’s recApp.  There are over 85 apps of all kinds in the App.net Directory and more get added every week.  Find the app that works for you!

 

Note:  The app descriptions in this post were provided by the developers; edited slightly for length and formatting.

App.net Podcast Episode 4

Each week, @dalton will recap the latest developments, API rollouts, and new features; offer updates to the product roadmap; and, of course, take member questions. Future podcasts will include guests and interviews. 

This week, @dalton discusses the messages API we released today and his LeWeb talk, and, as always, answers listener questions.

  • 1:15 Messages API update
  • 8:00 LeWeb Talk (slides below)


  • 24:10 Listener questions

Subscribe through iTunes or RSS.

If you have a question for a future podcast, a suggestion, or other feedback, send your thoughts to @ADN using #ADNpodcast.

Thanks to @vetpan, @shields, @davidkrauser, @eg, @rossa, @cdevroe, @simon_w, @nhk, @failgunner, @madhurdutta for submitting questions to this week’s episode.

App.net messaging API now available

We are pleased to announce the availability of the App.net messaging API (also known as the “private messaging API”). This is a major milestone in App.net core development, and is easily the most significant API update since initial launch. Our existing API infrastructure is largely organized around post objects, and the messaging API introduces a brand new top-level object: message.

A few details about the messaging API release:

OMEGA

  • The messaging API documentation is now available here.
  • In addition to the API and documentation, we are releasing a sample client implementation, called “Omega”. If you have an App.net account you can try it out here.
  • The source code to Omega is available on Github here. We are making the code available under a BSD license.
  • We built Omega to demonstrate what a complete app using the messaging API looks like, and also to make it easy for folks to integrate our sample code into their own apps.

What kinds of use-cases is the messaging API good for?

We wanted to build an API that was powerful enough to handle several different kinds of applications. In fact this very topic was discussed at length in the 2nd episode of the official podcast. A few of the ideas mentioned in that podcast are:

  • Chatroom or IM-style messaging
  • Group texting/mobile messaging
  • Collaboration tools
  • “Internet of things” notification fabric

We look forward to seeing support for the messaging API in both current and future apps!

We would also like to take a moment to thank all of the folks that provided thoughts and feedback on the messaging API since the begininning.

- Dalton, Bryan, and the rest of the App.net team