Vincent Ritter

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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.

First steps for the Reply Toolbar coming to Gluon:

That’s a user toolbar, showing the users in the conversation you are replying to and then anyone you are following. Tap to add. Still experimental and more to come. But you can have it already 🤓

Final stretch before releasing Gluon. Feedback wanted.

It’s time to wrap up the development for Gluon. It’s especially important for me as I’m also going to share my new way forward in the coming weeks. But before I go ahead and share that, I want to complete the app (or at least write this post).

There are a few things I want to tackle before launch, namely:

  • Posting and reply screens to be re-written and make them way more awesome, that will also include image uploads and… “insert secret feature here”.
  • Posting to include MicroPub love - I promised this for launch, so I’m gonna do it.

There are many more little things that need to happen and be fixed, but they’re too boring for you to know about.

I’m also going to make progress on the Android version after the iOS release. It’s at 90% with feature parity so I’ll need a bit more time to work around some limitations that I’m hitting.

Saying that, there isn’t too much interest on yet another third-party Android app for Micro.blog (from what I gather). From what I see, and feel, everyone wants a first-party solution. I’m hoping this happens soon and also hope that Gluon showed that it can be done.

Use the email below to get an invite to Gluon for Android.

I don’t have a release date yet for iOS but will announce it as soon as I know more myself.

Feedback time

As I work on the specific tasks at hand, I’m looking at collecting the last round of feedback. So if you use it, please do let me know if something doesn’t work as expected or if you have any suggestions. You can reach me here: gluon@vincentritter.com.

I do try and reply to everyone that emails me. If I missed someone… sorry!

Anyway, thanks so much for using the app and your feedback to date.

Another update for Gluon on iOS which I hope you enjoy.

  • Loading indicators are pretty much gone except the pull to refresh one. The app still does a few things in the background (for example prefetching the feed), however this is way better UX in my opinion.
  • Images Modal - the one you know and love from earlier builds. So instead of navigating out of the app, you’ll get a nice modal. Swipe left or right for more (if there are more), swipe down to close and your usual pinch-to-zoom action. Happy I managed to get that finally in.
  • The Photos tab is now named Media - this shows both images and videos from your timeline.

Thanks to Eli (@eli) for pointing out the many many loading indicators.

A quick note on loading:

The app, at the moment, pre-fetches the feeds when you navigate to each screen. This is for a few reasons. The main reason is that the Micro.blog API is a bit slow at times. So to avoid this and give you the illusion of quick loading it grabs the feed straight away. This means if you do a “pull to refresh” the feed is actually already being fetched in the background. I think, for now, this is the best answer to avoid the sometimes long loading times (they can vary between 1 and 6 seconds). And it gives you the feedback you need when you do do a pull-to-refresh.

Just pushed out another TestFlight build for Gluon. Here are the release notes:

  • Background Audio now continues to play when a video loads. So if you’re listening to a podcast or music, they’ll keep going!
  • When you do a “Pull to Refresh” you will now see the loading indicator at the top - as you would expect. Anything in the background or automatic will still trigger the little green and red spinner - but not the pull to refresh one.
  • List items now have the correct bullet point colour set depending on your theme.

Thanks again for all the feedback so far. Keep it coming!

Also… the dark theme looks out of date on iOS13 (for any of you running it). I’ll probably add a third true dark theme with a black background. The current one I’ll just name “Space Grey/Gray”.

I’ll update the Android build during the week as I need to tackle some specific Android issue that I didn’t have the time for.

Just pushed out an update to Gluon that adds video playback for timeline items. I know I’m late to the party! The videos repeat/loop and they are muted as default. You’ll get your normal iOS/Android controls. I’ll add a few settings to this feature.

Pushed out a smaller, but bigger behind the scenes, update for Gluon.

I gave some loving to the Android version and fixed a few bugs! Also added experimental local push notifications for mentions on Android. Give it a go!

iOS now also has local push notifications again! I pretty much re-wrote the background fetching so it should be much much better in handling background tasks. Which brings me to my next point:

The app used to, 25% of the time, ask you to log back into the account randomly… I REALLY hope I have now fixed this. Please let me know if it works for you! I’m testing like crazy, but the more feedback I have the better!

Also, I want to apologise for all the “Gluon” noise! I’m testing between two accounts with different devices… I promise to blog about other stuff than just Gluon 😊 It’s where my head is at at the moment!

I’m hoping to wrap it up in the coming weeks to get it out there into the wild.

Gluon - Adding search

It’s approaching 02:00 AM here on this lovely, rainy, Friday. However, the rain isn’t going to stop me from enjoying myself! So, I’m introducing a new section on the Discover screen (on iOS for the moment)… Search.

You can now search for both Posts and Users.

Here is a screenshot of the result page for posts:

And users also, just like the just announced new feature of searching for domain names:

All you have to do is type your query and hit search on the keyboard. It will go ahead and fetch both posts and users. The items “Posts” and “Users” let you actually switch which ones you want to view. They both also contain a loading icon, so you know which one is finished or not. And of course a count too of the results.

I’m still deciding on styling here, however I’m happy that it’s functional - which was my aim for tonight.

Anyway, hope you enjoy it and look forward to your feedback. Look out for the update on iOS (20190517.1).

Thanks:

I want to give thanks to Jimmy (@jmreekes) for great feedback on the Android app and finding a few bugs! Thank you Jimmy 😊

Always interesting to see the limitations I come across when building Gluon cross platform for Android and iOS. Android having its own set of rules, same with iOS. Happy though that 90% works cross platform. Certainly makes it interesting!

Gluon - Added basic posting

Today I worked on getting some sort of posting into the app. So, if you’re hosting on Micro.blog, you can now post a short post.

It’s still very much a work in progress but I wanted to get it off my chest.

So, if you have a site on Micro.blog you’ll be presented with a “New Post” button at the top bar on the main timeline screen. This will use your “default” site and post to it.

You cannot set a title just yet, but I’ll get to it after the weekend. Image uploads are also not yet present. It’s all coming.

I’m going to take some time and work on both the Reply and Posting screen to allow you to preview the post and also add markdown shortcuts for those that are new to it all. Also I have other features planned for those screens, but I’ll sit on it until I have something to show.

What about self-hosted sites? It’s coming! I’ve built the groundwork so any Micropub based site can be used, however it also requires me to set up new screens with options and other logic, so bear with me on this. It’s certainly coming! My own site is self-hosted, so it’s something I want to do for sure!

Anyway, still a way to go and I’m happy with the way it’s going so far.

Started work on Posting from Gluon. On login, or when you reload your feed, it will check if you have a hosted site on Micro.blog. If so, the button will show. Will continue tonight with adding the actual posting screen and logic.

Pushed out a small update to Gluon. I’ve added the Micro Monday link on the "Discover more” section, tweaked Wordpress emoji image handling (now real emoji), and you can open images in a browser which is the first step before I add the modal.

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