Vincent Ritter

Writing

All my blog posts for your viewing pleasure.

Quick thoughts on Apple TV+: For All Mankind

3 series for starters. It’s different and I like the mix of history and fiction. Good story line for sure.

You can see that this series probably didn’t have a big budget on visual effects, so that was a bit disappointing to say the least. Especially considering the beauty of space. Some of the acting seems weird and artificial that is hard to describe.

Without saying too much, I love the change of rolls between women and men... in the second episode. Especially given the time this is set in... and the present. I hope it lasts in the next episodes.

One thing to note, the audio sync between picture and sound seemed off for me. Perhaps it’s my TV... I’ll try on another device to make sure. I’ll update the post with findings.

Overal I give it a 4 out of 5 for now. I’ll certainly watch the rest. Which is a lot to say for me, because I don’t usually like watching TV shows.

Quick observation on Apple TV+

Now that we had some time to play around with it, I am absolutely stunned on how accessible every show is on Apple TV+. Just open up the audio tab and look at all the different languages and alternate versions with Audio Descriptions. Then have a look at the truck load of subtitles!

Only Apple would do something like this. Leading by example in a crowded market.

10 out of 10!

Looking for testers for Status, an app for updown.io

I’m looking for some brave people to try out my other app called Status. It’s an app that you can use for updown.io. It’s in a “pre-alpha” at the moment and has still a way to go. iOS only at the moment. Interested? status@vincentritter.com.

When I say “pre-alpha” I mean exactly that. This is what works:

  • Login with both read-only and full access tokens.
  • See all your checks.
  • See any checks that are down.
  • Webhooks can be seen also.
  • You can view all the updown nodes.
  • You can register for push notifications, so the app notifies you when something goes down. More on this in a moment.
  • You can enable and disable checks.
  • Very basic check detail screen. This one is going to take some time.

Regarding push notifications: this will register a unique device token on a small API that I wrote, which in turn creates a webhook at the updown end. This is all happening in-app and no updown token or any other personal info is shared with my API. Once updown sees a site down, it will send the details to the Status API, which in turns sends out a nice push notification.

It’s been working well the past few times.

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.

Hoping for a better future for frontend development

Last week I listened to the Ruby Rogues episode 428 podcast… and I’m really looking forward to what they have in store when it comes to a frontend framework. I think it’s going to be worth holding on for. The way frontend development works this day and age is just wrong. The episode certainly struck a chord.

True… my day to day evolves around popular “modern” frameworks like React, but I certainly think there is room for something much better and clearer. It certainly is a shit show at the moment.

One thing I love about Ruby, and I guess Rails, is that there is an easy barrier of entry. You can come from zero experience and get something going. Ruby is a beautiful language which makes it easier for you as a developer to bring your ideas to life. It’s lovely to read and gets out of your way so you can pretty much express yourself in your code.

Something like this needs to exist for frontend also. It certainly isn’t React or whatever other hot new framework. We have HTML and CSS, the building blocks. Now we just need to find a low entry barrier for making it great together.

Given the choice today I’d always build HTML and CSS first (server side). With a sprinkle of lightweight Javascript to enhance certain areas. But never full-on JS first approach. I know… it “depends” on the project.

What is sad though, is that these frameworks are popular… so when a client comes knocking they think they want it and demand it.

Anyway, here is hoping for the future of something better with a low barrier of entry to save us developers… or perhaps just the ones that want to be saved.

Coming from a pilot’s perspective I see it like this: I’m flying on autopilot with what is given to me, but when I have control I only have myself and my experience on what to do and what not. This translates to me… “do the work you are given, guide if you can, and once you are truly in control on your own projects do what’s right with the right tools. It’s my choice”.

Hard to explain I guess.

Anyway, here is for a hopefully better future of frontend development.

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