Vincent Ritter

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Weekend and Week App Hack - Gluon

A Micro.blog cross platform app

I have an itch. I want to scratch it. I fear if I don’t scratch it now, I will never do it.

I’m going to be creating an iOS, and most likely Android, app for Micro.blog.

I just pushed a TestFlight update out for Gluon - build 20181112.1. There is a breaking change for older installs, so I have expired them. That won't happen in the future as I stopped using "over the air" updates. Another build will completely disable OTA updates (just in case).

Gluon - Weekend update

Today I worked on a few features I wanted to add over the weekend. Nothing too big, but will hopefully make it easier to use the app.

Actions

First, I added a long press action to any post (the post content), this brings up an Action Sheet on iOS with several options. Here it is:

These actions can be invoked anywhere where you see a post. I'll probably tweak the wording ever so slightly. If you have recommendations... reply to me via Micro.blog.

Reporting a user

The report functionality is a two step approach, so don't worry. It will show you an alert before actually doing anything! Here it is:

I thought it would be a good idea to also add the username to the button as I think it would make you think twice, or more. I'm going to tweak the message a bit to say that all reports will be reviewed by the Micro.blog team, just to make that a bit clearer.

Discover

In the discover section I added a small Easter egg... well... and Easter egg that appears every Monday!

I thought it would be a great idea to recommend the "Micro Monday" category when it's Monday, just to keep the discover section a bit more dynamic. Hopefully this will drive a bit more engagement within the community.

I'll probably change the wording, so any suggestions are welcome. Also, I'll make this an option to hide, in case people find it annoying. Hopefully not though!

Oh and I changed the post time labels to give you a relative date, again I'll make this a user option. I kinda like it as it's accurate enough. Doesn't need to be right on the second... right?

That's it for now. If you have the TestFlight version installed you can wait for the update to come out (Build 20181111.1) - it's been "Processing" for the past hour, so it might not be until tomorrow...

Just pushed out an update to Gluon TestFlight. Now I inline a "Reply" button for when you are in the Mentions section. Discover screen now allows you to browse via tag. I'm going to be adding a few more features to Discover 😄

A week ago today, I started developing Gluon. I'm happy with progress this week. Creativity is high and I had to grab the urge to make it! I've started planning features that I want to implement by next week and will work during the evening tomorrow and Sunday to get the Discover section up to scratch. Thank you all on the TestFlight so far, I really appreciate it!

Gluon - App Update 6 (or 7 if you include the last post)

It was a good day, although slow on the development front. I'm happy I got the TestFlight out today. Feels good! You can read about it here.

This evening/early morning (it's now 4 A.M. for me) I started work on getting the "Reply" functionality in. It's not there on the design front... but it works! I did have one failed attempt because I was encoding the HTML, but I didn't have to! Whoops.

Here is a screenshot of the in progress/still in design reply view:

That reminds me, I also implemented the conversation view. Here you will see the whole conversation with all replies to the given post. There is also a "reply" button for any post. This doesn't show for the actual user that is logged in.

I'll work on the controls even more as I'm not happy with the design. My main concern was replying, so I'm thrilled it works!

It's my intention to surface controls for replying, favouriting and deleting (if it's your post that you can delete) on a long press of the post on any screen. I'd like to hide as many controls as possible. I'll think of a few ways to tackle that though.

Tomorrow evening I'll work on better styling for the "Reply" screen and also get some other functionality added. I'd also like to tackle the image viewing... so it's a much better experience for everyone.

One step at a time 😁

Successfully added "Reply" functionality to Gluon. Now I just need to figure out the styling. If you'd like to test it before the official TestFlight build is out, you can go to "Settings" and tap "Update build and reload". Then when you tap on a post, you will know where to reply 😉 WiP!

Gluon for Micro.blog - TestFlight

The time has come, the TestFlight build for Gluon is now available. I’m excited to get this into the hands of people.

This initial release is available for iOS. I’m going to be getting an Android build out next week and will announce this separately.

I have created a Trello Board for anyone interested to see what I’m working on, bugs and features. Here’s the link: https://trello.com/b/GSIj8AVi

If you find bugs, please email me at gluon@vincentritter.com… or support@vincentritter.com. They both work.

There are many things still outstanding and I will work on them in the coming days and week.

If you have messaged me with your details, you should now have the invite. If not, you can sign up to it using the public TestFlight invite URL:
https://testflight.apple.com/join/2sbnWuMK

Happy testing and please let me know what features you really want or where I can improve. Please remember this is an early build and has a few missing features.

Here are the notes from my TestFlight build:

-- -- --


Thanks for testing this early version of the Gluon.

Notes:

Replying and composing is not yet implemented.

Favouring posts is not implemented.

Please test the following:

1. App login with both email and/or token.

2. Browse feed, mentions, favourites and discover.

3. Tap on profile images to load info and posts.

4. Check for overall performance on loading each screen.

5. Navigate to other users followers.

6. Follow or unfollow (if you want).

7. Pull to Refresh on any screen - should update the feed/section in question.

8. Open links within posts.

9. Tap on a post and it will take you to a conversation view.

The app includes a settings screen, this is for test purpose only. You can do the following:

1. Logout - this will clear the secure storage of your user credentials and all posts data. This will also reload the app.

2. Clear posts - this clears all posts in your home feed.

3. Clear All Storage - this will clear all data stored on the device but will not clear the user token - this will reload the app.

4. Update build and reload - this will try and fetch the latest build and download it, it's magic, and I may ask you to do this sometimes if you're having issues which I'll hot fix. Note: this will only be available for the TestFlight builds.

-- -- --

I’ll be working on getting replies working and/or perhaps image viewing.

Happy testing.

I'll be sending out TestFlight invites for Gluon to everyone that messaged me their email. Then I will publish a blog post with details and a public invite URL. Android coming next week (or maybe earlier).

Just wrapping up a few things for Gluon, so it's ready for the TestFlight to go out. I added the "Conversation" view too - and it highlights the one you tapped on when you scroll down:

TestFlight build approved for Gluon. Tomorrow I will send out invites and share a link for everyone. This is exciting. 🚀

I added a basic "Following" screen for now. If you load your own list of followers you will see all. If it's a different user then I'll only show you who you're not following. Going to add a website button too, if there is a URL available (I guess there always will be).

Added follow and unfollow functionality to Gluon. Also started with displaying follower count. This will only show people you aren't following though once you tap through, in reverse order...

Gluon - Progress Update 5

I'm going to keep this one short. A bit overdue from this very early A.M.

Progress has been steady, I worked a lot on getting the feeds to work better on initial load when logging in. Once you login, I used to call the 'posts/all' API endpoint to grab a bit more details for the user, here I said to take no posts as I didn't need them... however, as it was doing the call anyway I thought I should grab the posts there and then and save them. This reduces the amount of calls on initial login, plus it gives you your timeline fast once you are presented with the home screen! Before this change I called the 'posts/all' endpoint to save user data (like the avatar url) and then moved onto the home screen with your feed. Here I then load that exact call again but this time with posts. Inefficient.

Next I worked on getting images to load quicker across the board. All images are lazy loaded and cached locally. I'm happy I did this as my initial implementation was too slow and render blocking. I didn't like that. Android still needs a bit of work here but I'm happy it's actually working there too.

Another small tweak was how you navigate to a user profile, and then another one when you tap on a mention or something like this. When you tap on your own name, it actually takes you to the profile screen too.

Tapping on the tab bar icons, where you have any sort of feed, will scroll you to the top of the timeline. I know I know... every app does that anyway... so here we are.

To be honest, is was pretty early in the morning by the time I finished all of this... took me a long time, but was totally worth it. Anyway, I also started adding mentions, discover and favourites. So those are now in.

Here are some screenshots of the Discover section and Home Feed:


The Discover section is not final at all, I just wanted to get the API hooked up and the feed showing.

Another note about the Discover timeline is that it always grabs all posts that the API returns, this then saves it locally. When you reload, or it reloads itself, it will just override those posts with a new set - no flicker, promise. It's a bit limited but I guess that is the point of the discover section.

Also worth mentioning that the tab bar and icons are not final.

I have a TestFlight up that is waiting approval from the App Store team, I hope this happens between today and tomorrow so I can get the app into the hands of a few people.

My intentions for today are to work on conversation view and work on getting the images to show nicely. I'll also try and implement the favouriting to a post. I'm yet to figure out how to lay it out without messing around with the clean look. I do like swipe gestures but I feel the years of deleting email and messages just tells me swiping is for deleting stuff... Maybe just me going even more crazy. If you have suggestions or opinions, let me know.

And one more thing, I tested the app out in the wild today - seems to work nicely even with poor connectivity. I'll need to implement something that stops the loading bar from showing when it can't connect.

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