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Launching smart – Graphite Comics

Hands down the most terrifying phase of launching a new tech startup is launch. So many pieces of a very complex puzzle have to come together at exactly the same time in exactly the right way for things to go right.

While experience is helpful in getting all of those moving parts in sync and timed up perfectly, it also contributes to that overall dread. The more products you’ve launched, the more you know how many things can go wrong, and just how slightly one variable can be off to throw the whole machine into chaos and, worst of all, how much luck is actually involved!

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Graphite March update: efficiency vs. economy

The March update of Graphite Comics just went live. It’s one of those updates that is very significant, with major changes under the hood — but which users will almost certainly not notice at all.

This makes for an interesting opportunity to talk about balancing needs in software development. In this case, we are looking at balancing speed and efficiency against operating costs. And even more interestingly, we can look at an example where a technical decision that improved efficiency and user experience evolved, over time, to actually have a detrimental effect on user experience!

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Scrawl updated with new features!

I’ve updated my social networking demo app Scrawl to include a couple often requested features – Universal links, email verification, and password reset.

In addition, I’ve integrated Mailgun into the backend application in order to allow the server to send email messages to users (which is obviously a requirement for two of these features).

If you are interested in a slightly deep dive into these features, read on!

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App development myths #2: The finished product

In this series of posts, I want to discuss several myths, misconceptions, and misunderstandings that threaten to derail inexperienced or non-technical founders of tech startups.  

Note: this post also appears on Glowdot with permission.

In the beginning stages of planning an app development, there are two ubiquitous questions that get asked, and they are the obvious ones:

  • How much will it cost to build this app?
  • How long will it take to build this app?

These are not unreasonable questions — indeed, when building anything the first two things you need to wrap your head around are budget and timeline.

However, these questions become much more difficult — if not impossible — to answer when it comes to software. Let’s look at why that is.

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Graphite Comics – for iOS, Android and the web

Graphite is a scalable, efficient and multi-platform graphical content distribution system for mobile devices and the web.

I designed and developed the backend system powering Graphite — a Node.js based system that is powered by several AWS services, in addition to some locally hosted server functionality (mostly to handle maintenance jobs and statistical analysis of the live system) and a media sharing system facilitating the onboarding of new users coming from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

I also developed the iOS app for Graphite — one of the biggest and most complex mobile projects I have ever taken on. Although on the surface Graphite seems quite simple, in fact the technology powering it is extremely sophisticated and complex.

In addition to developing the iOS app and the server-side platform, I current manage the development of every other current and future platform — including Android, the web, and a few other platforms on the roadmap.

You can download the public beta of Graphite on iOS and on Android and visit the Graphite website here.

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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Scrawl for iOS – best practices in social app development

Scrawl is a social media app developed over the course of one month, representing a typical social media app project.

Aside from being a pretty neat idea, I actually launched this app to demonstrate a few critical concepts that many first time (and even some fairly experienced!) mobile entrepreneurs might not be aware of.  Let’s take a look at a few of them!

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App development myths #1: The cheap offshore developer

In this series of posts, I want to discuss several myths, misconceptions, and misunderstandings that threaten to derail inexperienced or non-technical founders of tech startups.  

Note: this post also appears on Glowdot with permission.

In the 10+ years I have been developing for mobile platforms — 15 years if you count Windows Mobile! — I continue to be amazed by the number of well-intentioned founders who fall for the trap of the cheap offshore development firm.  I am not exaggerating when I say I have never heard of a development that went well that leveraged a team of developers from a shop in India.  The failure rate is so insanely high that I wonder how the word hasn’t spread far and wide to stay the hell away from offshore code factories.

My best guess is that it has become a sort of industry meme, and as such it has woven itself so deeply into the fabric of the industry that it will take more than countless blog posts, post-mortem talks, and shared war stories to make it go away.

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GlobeChat – text messaging with real time translation

GlobeChat is a highly scalable, modern, efficient text messaging app with the unique feature that it translates incoming messages into your native language in real time as you chat.

I designed and developed the backend infrastructure for GlobeChat as well as the iOS app, and oversaw the development of the Android app. This development included integration with several AWS services as well as building modules to interface with Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform for translation services.

GlobeChat also, unsurprisingly, exemplifies the multitude of layers of complexity required when localizing an app for multiple languages. In total, GlobeChat supports 61 languages — and in order to do so, the app must not only translate messages between users, but include localized text in the client apps, as well as localized text on the server side (e.g. to translate common push notification messages, server generated error messages, and so on).

Managing copy on all of those levels for 61 languages is a massive task on it’s own, in addition to the technical complexity of building a chat app, let alone one that is handling translation in real time!

Indeed, this is so complex and novel that the technology powering GlobeChat has been patented.

You can download GlobeChat on iOS as well as on Android. You can also visit the GlobeChat website for more information.

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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