2012-01-31 11:16

It's alive!


So, redditmag+ launched on the Android Market! I've always wanted to do something cool with saibotd.com/redditmag and it finally happened. After an attempt with the first redditmag App it came clear that I need to put more effort into this, people seemed to really like it, but it was not good enough.

Another problem where the server costs. Redditmag (the website and the first App) is free, but to provide thumbnails with the right size (260x260px) I need to do the following things on the server-side:

  1. Fetch the JSON from reddit.com (e.g. http://reddit.com/r/pics/.json)
  2. Fetch the header of every URL that is linked to (e.g. http://i.imgur.com/73oRE.jpg, http://imgur.com/73oRE)
  3. It's an image? Nice! Now I need to download the image and generate my thumbnail
  4. It's HTML? Well lets download and parse it
  5. Go through the DOM (think jQuery) and download every single image on the site. Some sites, like YouTube, require special ways to get an image
  6. See which image is the largest, pixel-wise - alternatively I could only load the header and check for the filesize, but this led to worse results
  7. Generate a thumbnail from this image
  8. Store the thumbnail in Redis (the filesystem is too slow) with a half-life of 24h
  9. Everytime the URL gets requested, the half-life of the thumbnail gets updated to another 24h, this keeps incoming traffic as low as possible

Step 3 - 10 need to be made for every single post you see on the site and in the Apps.

So after countless hours of coding the new App, I made the decision to try to make some money with it, at least to cover my expenses. I also decided to stick with the new ICS-guidelines entirely - I'm just so tired of seeing these ugly Android 2.x Apps with the rounded buttons and "custom" UI elements (no offence here! Some Apps are really pretty!) that I just wanted to make something cool for phones and tablets. I know the market for 2.x devices is much bigger, but it won't be forever. Android is moving quickly (too quick for most customers, devs and it's own good actually), but I really hope they stick with what they achieved with Ice Cream Sandwich.

To gather feedback and bugreports, and also to give something back to the community, I gave the App for free to /r/Android. Folks there (as always on Reddit) where very kind and helpful, one guy even offered to make a new App-icon which I gladly accepted.

So, a big thank you from my side to the awesome people there and to Reddit.com in general!

Thats it for now! I'm already working on some of the feedback I've collected so far and will update this Blog soon with more insights on the development.