Vincent Ritter

< back to projects

Gluon for Micro.blog

An app for both iOS and Android, built on React Native, for Micro.blog.

If you’d like to join the iOS TestFlight beta you can use this link. If you’d like to test the Android version, please email me: gluon@vincentritter.com.

With Gluon, you can do the following:

  • View your timeline, mentions and favourites.
  • Reply or post* to Micro.blog and also set favourites.
  • Discover the discovery feed including all the “emoji” tagged discover sections.
  • Search users or posts on Micro.blog.
  • View user profiles and follow, or, unfollow.
  • Add multiple accounts to the app, if you have more.
  • Customise the app from theme, font, accent colours and more.
  • And much more.

* Posting is available for Micro.blog hosted sites only during beta.

I just pushed out build 35 for Gluon. It adds a pure black theme, which looks really stunning. Combine that with your chosen accent colour it really looks great!

Also added a few tweaks to the UI and the reply screen… nothing major but important.

I pushed out a small update for Gluon that will now nicely display a first name and a username in your feed. It’s an important change, which doesn’t add too much clutter to the timeline. Really want to bring back a slightly more human touch to it.

Gluon speed improvements, Android update and Push Notifications

I’ve got an exciting update coming to Gluon, pretty much right now, and I’m super happy to share the juicy details with you.

“I’ve got the need… the need for speed”

Gluon was already fast, but I took time to work around a few edge cases and dramatically reduce the calls to the Micro.blog API. In the past, for convenience, I called the API every time you switched screens, this was to mitigate the, at the time, slowness of it. Manton worked hard on speed improvements and it shows. Now, I apply my own sort of cache to these calls and only load when I think it should, within reason. Of course, pull to refresh will always work to the way you want.

Now that the API call is less aggressive, it will also a bit faster to move around ever so slightly. This is thanks to way more less background activity.

I also worked on every screen to reduce the load times for those also. Conversations are quicker to load as I now check the API as soon as you tap on the timeline item. In the past this happened after you went on the screen.

There was also some code that I just didn’t need anymore, so I took it all out. Overall I shaved off around 100KB of code. Which is nice and makes me happy.

Overall, I think the app flies.

Push Notifications

This is one feature I’m super excited about! And I’m super happy to announce that proper push notifications are coming to Gluon. Today!

This is thanks to Manton and Micro.blog, who was super kind enough to put in the work to support third party apps. This will also include Icro and other iOS clients when they’re ready. Manton already posted a reply to Icro on this matter and can’t wait for it to come there also.

So, thank you Manton for the work and enabling developers to do this!

Push notifications are controlled from the Micro.blog end, so there is no third party involved. Whilst running my own server with logic would bring other benefits, it dramatically reduces my own overhead and I’m happy that there are uniform expectations on push notifications from the service.

Notifications are sent in the same fashion as per the official Micro.blog app. This means, non disruptive and come in quietly without sound. Suits me. The world is too loud and too busy anyway.

To enable push, just head to the settings screen and then “Push notifications”. Should be easy and without trouble.

Other tweaks

In general I cleared up a few styling points and made other improvements to screens throughout the app. Which clears a path for a slightly cleaner and simple look throughout.

Search now lives in the “Discover More” section and is removed from the tab bar. The tab bar looked very cluttered, so having a bit of zen back is nice.

Throughout the app, on iOS, you will always be able to get to your profile if needs be from the top bar. This used to be only some screens in the past. Now any top level screen will show it.

I made a further tweak to swipe back gestures in the app. I think it’s a good middle ground. A weird problem to have had… just one of those things I guess.

Android loving

All the above is iOS only… which brings me to my next topic. Android.

Whilst I was hoping for feature parity I’m now facing difficulty in bringing it across to Android. Let’s just call that a limitation of the framework I’m using… and I guess my understanding of Android too.

In the next few weeks I’ll be dedicating time just for the Android build to bring across all the latest changes whilst also tweaking it ever so slightly to bring Android only design styles and app layouts.

The current Android build still feels very Alpha to me so I’m hoping to get this to Beta level soon, where I’ll then open up the app for proper public beta testing.

Closing thoughts

Gluon is getting there, although I always think it’s never going to be in a finished state. I have particular goals with my apps but as the days go I also change my mind on things.

I’m aware there are features I still need to add for posting to Micro.blog and also third party websites. This will come… as I always keep saying.

I’m not in a rush to launch the app to the App Store and I’m happy to take my time. Too many times do I rush things.

Thank you to all my wonderful testers and your continued feedback and trust.

Last night I tidied up a few things on Gluon. Simpler screens and logic, moved search to “Discover More” as an experiment, ultimately getting rid of clutter on the tab bar. Also managed to reduce the app size by 100KB. And added push! Coming soon 😊

Just pushed out build 8 (2019.1) for Gluon. This fixes an outstanding, and longterm, issue with swiping back out from a conversation or somewhere where feed items are showing.

Thank you to Matthew for bearing with me on this one! It still requires some tweaking but I hope this is an improvement already.

I’ve been doing some back and forth with Gluon lately. Haven’t felt much motivated to work on it as I’m thinking that I could dramatically reduce the visual clutter.

Also tried to work on an action bar… but it doesn’t really fit with my vision. I’ve got a few ideas I want to try… I think it’s for the better.

Will it ever be released? Some day… yes!

Just pushed out a small update for Gluon. Build 20190725.4.

  • Push Notifications and local background fetch for mentions have been removed. I removed this to clear the way for real push notifications. Hopefully I will have this ready in the coming weeks.
  • With the above taken care of, this also fixes a crash with background fetching… because I removed that functionality altogether.
  • Added a few more loading messages when you pull to refresh. Need to tidy these up as I go and make it more consistent across the different screens.
  • Added the new Emoji for Discover - I should really implement a check server-side so I can pull them easily.
  • Under the hood upgrades - was a bit of a pain… but I hope it’s working all OK.

I’ll touch on Push Notifications on a later date. It’s coming back for sure, so don’t worry! And no… I won’t charge for them on a subscription basis 🤣

Close