Monthly Archives: July 2011

Twitter app chance

Five years ago today, I joined Twitter as its 897th user, though for some reason “my first tweet”: wasn’t until a few months later. So much has changed in the meantime — the API always in flux, the transition from primarily SMS, to web, to apps — but in many ways the core of the service remains intact and stronger than ever. Short messages, distributed efficiently to friends.

I talked about some of the good and bad of being a Twitter developer “on the ATX Web Show last week”: There have been a string of changes that cause developers to scramble: turning off basic auth, discouraging mainstream clients, disabling DMs for xAuth. With each step, Twitter loses a little goodwill, and that’s demonstrated in the tweets I “collected over the xAuth change”:

Even as Twitter passes 1 million registered apps, there’s a risk that some developers will stick with the platform as users only, putting their apps in maintenance mode. In May, “Kiwi developer Isaiah stopped development”: of his Mac Twitter app:

“I’m just going to take a break from Kiwi for a while. It’s still for sale. I still support it. I’ll still fix bugs when they crop up. But adding new features and playing catch up with the other guys/gals is off the table.”

Maybe because I don’t have to depend on Tweet Library sales, I tend to more stubbornly ignore what is good business sense. There’s so much I still want to do. As “I wrote in my previous take”: on the state of the platform: “I’m a little discouraged, but not enough to stop.”

I think that’s doubly true today. More annoyed, but also more determined to plug holes in the platform, from archiving to syncing. I couldn’t be more excited about the developers who are building in “Tweet Marker”: support.

And there’s always a chance, a feeling that something big is just around the corner. That if I don’t add that one feature, or open up that new API, I’ll miss the tipping point that makes Tweet Library really take off.

iPad Pro is the new iPod Photo

I’m fascinated with the iPad “3” rumors because on the surface they make so little sense. Apple just shipped the iPad 2, no competitors can match it, and demand is strong. Why mess with a good thing so soon?

But it almost fits when you give it a name like “Pro” (or iPad Retina, or whatever). This isn’t a replacement for the current iPad; it’s another layer to the product lineup. And like the awkwardly-named iPod Photo from 2004, I bet the iPad Pro is meant to be temporary. It’s a way to sell a high-end, over-priced and over-pixeled iPad before the technology is cheap enough for the masses. A year or two from now, the Retina Display will be available in all iPads, and the “Pro” name will fade away, just like iPod Photo did when all iPods got a color screen.

Push-based sync

“Guy English writes about iCloud”: and the magic glue (Push Notifications’ persistent connection) that makes it work:

“Each of these new features tickle the persistent ‘push’ connection and trigger some action on the device. The short-form state may be transmitted immediately and set on any connected device within moments. Document syncing is likely to trigger a negotiation process to compare the state on any one device with The Truth stored on Apple servers and replace the document on the device with the latest revision — this has the advantage of limiting the window between syncing where conflicts are most likely to occur.”

Sync speed matters. The first note sharing server I built for VitalSource years ago assumed a lot of offline time, and despite “my blogging in 2007 that it was”: “magic”, in practice it could take 5-10 minutes before all your computers got their act together to get a set of highlights completely synced. With that kind of lag, note edits might happen on a client in the meantime, so we remembered conflicts everywhere and had a UI for resolving them.

Too complicated. The new system, recently rolled out in Bookshelf for iPhone and iPad, syncs so much more efficiently and quickly that conflicts don’t need the same emphasis. We can throw away a bunch of code and simplify the user interface.

I’ve yet to do anything with iCloud except read the release notes and sit through a couple WWDC sessions, but we’re going to have a fantastic platform if it can deliver the same speed and reliability of Push Notifications. Guy’s post is the first I’ve seen to connect the dots, capturing how well-positioned Apple is to use this plumbing for all sorts of stuff.