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Posts tagged ‘Development’

Why Instagram’s app feels so damn fast

If you play with the Instagram mobile app on iOS or Android, it feels a little different. It feels significantly faster than other apps. Upload a photo to Instagram, and it seems to load faster than, say, the check deposit feature in your bank’s mobile app.

Mike Krieger from Instagram says the secret to a fast app lies in “not the code, but the experience.” That’s a great approach to app development — strong app performance is no longer a developer responsibility, but a shared responsibility. When everyone at Instagram thinks about how the app can feel faster, it leads to a more enjoyable experience for the user.

Take a look at his deck below:

Ifttt: A Scriptable Social Web

Ifttt, or “If This, Then That”, is a new web service that activates triggers based on specific events. The service works in conjunction with your social networks, so if someone tags you in a photo on Facebook, you could set up a service to send you an SMS. Ifttt has a seemingly unlimited amount of uses. Once you get the hang of creating tasks, you’ll find it difficult to stop creating and tweaking.

When you create a new task, you’re given the ability to specify your trigger. A trigger forms the first part of the task, like the “If this” part. Triggers can come from just about anything: receiving an email, fluctuations in the stock market, changes in weather, particular times of the day or week, or new posts on Facebook, just to name a few.

The second part of the task is the action, or the “then that” part. Ifttt likes to focus a lot of its potential on communication. As a result, the actions generally cover the ability to send a tweet, email, text message or IM. When you put them all together, you can be SMSed once your stock drops below a threshold or texted when you’re tagged in a photo on Facebook.

Ifttt is currently in private beta. Sign up for your own invitation through their sign-up form.

Mini App Round-Up: Jan 27, 2011

Our Mini App Round-Ups cover smaller apps that rock. If you have a suggestion for an app, send it our way. gives anyone the ability to launch a sophisticated mobile web app in a matter of minutes. Instead of writing code, users drag-and-drop elements into place. Its simple interface allows anyone to get started. provides the hosting, which means more time building your web app and less time setting up. Basic web tracking analytics are also included. Plans start at $30 per month.

The Daily Startup

noresizeFor our entrepreneurial readers, The Daily Startup pulls in quotes and case studies from business and startup books. Each day, the website posts a new concept from a book. They take a no-frills approach to each article, as in, “Skip the details, and just tell me why this matters.” Their writeups are concise but still provide enough value with actionable advice for your business. The Daily Startup launched this month.


noresizeLedgerble is a full-featured accounting web app. It breaks away from desktop software by providing your books in the cloud. Ledgerble can handles banking and bookkeeping, and it even has the ability to import your banking data from your account. The service just launched, and pricing currently stands at $14 per month for all features.

Lucky Orange: Real Time Visitor Tracking

Lucky Orange provides real time analytics for exactly how your visitors are using your website. The service doesn’t replace your existing web tracking analytics. Instead, Lucky Orange offers better insight into how your users use your website.

Once you embed the Javascript code, press CTRL + SHIFT + 1 on your keyboard to launch the tool and begin the setup process. Your dashboard gives a live count of the number of people browsing your pages. The global map pinpoints their location, while lists show popular pages, entry keywords and referral sources.

Lucky Orange is broken into tabs. The Visitors tab gives the basic details like how the user found your site and their current page. But you also have the surprising “Spy On” option, which records how your users move about your site. These sessions can be saved and archived for later viewings. The Recordings tab houses the videos. Use them to assess your site’s usability.

We saw real business value through their third feature; one-to-one chat support. For any visitor, you have the option to spring open a chat window and speak to them live. Sales teams will jump at this capability, giving them the instant opportunity to qualify leads the moment people express interest.

We were amazed to see Lucky Orange’s price point. They have one plan, and it’s offered at $7 per month. For that cost, any small business owner can afford the service. If the low price isn’t enough to get you to sign-up, then both the live demo and free trial can change your mind.

Feedback Roulette: Personal Site Reviews

Web developers solicit feedback for their sites through plenty of sources. Forums for webmasters are one, friends are another. Feedback Roulette shares your website with other web owners, developers and designers. Think of it as a peer critique, which could come with brutal honesty but also offer the most significant guidance for improvement. Feedback Roulette is an absolute must for web entrepreneurs, and it’s completely free to use.

Getting started is simple. Create an account, and you’re given a random website to review. Once you complete and submit your critique, your own website is entered into the candidate pool for selection. As you review more websites, you accrue points, which gives more people the opportunity to review your website.

Feedback Roulette’s service relies on its community. Reviews are anonymous, so it’s difficult to determine the quality of the userbase. But the service is valuable. A lot of web owners may develop and launch a website in their own silo, and Feedback Roulette gives them the outlet to exchange critiques from people qualified to give them.

Vanilla Forums: Conversations Refreshed

Web forums haven’t exactly experienced the same renaissance as other web tools. They’re built on the old technologies, running the same themes, and offering the same functionality we’ve seen since the early 2000s. They feel dated, mostly because there never was a point in time when they felt modern.

Vanilla Forums is a forum provider that modernizes the offerings. It has the potential to compete with industry heavyweights like vBulletin and truly challenge their claim as “the most powerful forum software available.” With Vanilla Forums, columns and posts are clean. Replies can be voted for with a simple Digg-like button, causing better responses to float to the top (purists will appreciate the toggle to sort replies by date added). There’s also a pretty hefty template system, bringing as much control to the appearance as possible on a WordPress theme.

Once you create an account with them, you can share you blog a few different ways. The easiest is just to grab the embed code and drop it in your site. Optionally, developers will want to dive into the API and add forum calls into existing tools and mobile apps, such as pulling in posts, searches and user profiles. If you want the downloadable version, it’s free on

Vanilla Forums’ service is offered at tiered levels. The simplest option gives everything needed for a forum, but it also includes their ads, and you aren’t given upload disk space. It’s not a bad value considering the product.

CloudFlare: Blazingly Fast Websites

CloudFlare popped up in our inbox not too long ago, and we were thrilled to find it. CloudFlare is a free content delivery network for websites. They’re called CDNs, and they’ve become a very popular way for large websites to speed up their loading times.

Here’s an example of how a CDN works. Let’s say you’re in Chicago, like us, and browsing a website that’s located in San Francisco. When an image loads on the site, the data has to move from the site in San Fran to your laptop in Chicago. There’s a delay that’s not really noticeable, that is until you begin downloading many images, stylesheets and javascripts, across multiple pages. A CDN puts all of those content pieces like images and javascripts on servers throughout the web. Then, people visiting a website from Chicago could download content from a server in Chicago. The closer proximity plays a role, but spreading content throughout the web also reduces bottlenecks.

CDNs help speed up websites and help handle traffic spikes since they’re well equipped to transfer the load between many areas. The big guys, like Facebook, Amazon and Apple, all use CDNs. But CloudFlare wants to bring those same capabilities to smaller players.

Once you register for a free account on CloudFlare, just update your domain name’s DNS to point to their servers. The service begins collecting those static content pieces like images. When people visit your website, CloudFlare can serve your content, which means less bandwidth on your end, and a faster web experience for your visitors. Since the service covers a network of sites, it’s able to identify hacking attempts on one and block them from the network.

CloudFlare offers tiered plans, with the first being completely free. Larger websites can step up and unlock more in-depth reports, heightened security and faster load speeds. We think they’re offering a valuable service for web startups, and we think you’ll like them too.

If you’ve tried CloudFlare or another CDN, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Mashape: The API Marketplace

Mashape, which launches in private alpha today, is an API marketplace for developers and web app owners.

For people running a web app, Mashape gives away an API library so you can drop it into your app and instantly allow developers to begin building mashups with your service. The infrastructure is available for PHP now, and they’ll be adding Ruby soon.

For developers, Mashape helps pull together APIs and hold them in one spot. It’s easy to browse and find new capabilities to use. And since all of the web apps are already running the Mashape infrastructure, your Mashape API key works with every service. Give yourself more time to build an app and less time getting started.

Mashape is in private alpha, so use the invite code MINISPROUT when you register to jump to the head of the queue.

Postmark: Email Analytics For Web Apps

If you’re building a web app, you’re likely going to be emailing your users, whether with registration details, reminders, policy changes or password resets. Postmark, another product by Wildbit, brings the analytics found in email marketing apps to any web app.

Let’s suppose you set up a new web app. When users register, you may send them a welcome email through a simple mail function. But you really don’t know if that email ever made it to their inbox. Postmark lets you know.

The service works across many languages and frameworks, including Rails Gem, Ruby, PHP 5, Python, .NET, ColdFusion, Java and Node.js. People can build their own libraries too.

Postmark is affordable for just about any small web app developer. 1,000 sent emails come out to $1.50, or $0.0015 per email. You can also try the service before you buy; your first 1,000 emails are free.

appbackr: Funding iPhone App Developers

Let’s be realistic. An awful lot of people can pick-up a book on iPhone app development and throw together an app. They may even go for gold and submit it to the App Store. Like all marketplaces, however, listing a product does not guarantee it will sell any copies. Not even one.

appbackr lets developers gather funding from supporters before investing the effort into creating and listing an app. Once the app is listed, all investors share in the profits.

Appbackr helps eliminate much of the risk developers face. First, for some, it helps alleviate the process of finding funding. The service gathers an audience of people who understand the iPhone app industry and can spot great ideas easier than those who may not have the background. Additionally, backers have an incentive to drive promotions for the app. The better the app performs in the store, the more money they can potentially earn. Suddenly, promotional tactics are not just limited to the developer’s efforts. Investors have the motivation to launch a word-of-mouth campaign.

Just like any modern fundraising website, developers have to submit an application prior to listing their app on the site. Visit appbackr if searching for a way to build an iPhone app while mitigating risks.