Socialapp

– social software

Rotzy … a social photo iPhone App

rotzyRotzy is a photo sharing iPhone application developed by Gee-Hwan Chuang and Gee-Hsien Chuang that lets you takeuploadshare, and discuss photos of life’s daily events and sightings with your iPhone. Gee gave a lightning demo of his iPhone application at a South Bay Tech Meetup.

The application allows you to take picture’s using your iPhone camera and then share and publish it to your rotzy gallery. It also allows you to broadcast photos to other sites like  Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Gee described the gallery to be analogous to a twiter feed, with followers commenting on your pictures and initiating a long trail of conversation based on it. He mentioned that they had something else in mind regarding the direction of Rotzy, but it seemed to have taken the shape of a mini photo based social network with people spending a lot of their time commenting on the pictures.

Rotzy is a native iPhone Application available at the appstore. The back end for the application is  written in Python using Google’s Appengine.  They also faced some hurdles during the process of development for the AppEngine (See Gee’s Slide below). It was particularly fascinating to see their solution for working around the Location based search.  App Engine’s BigTable implementation does not allow easy latitude/longitude based searches and inequality based filters. So, they finally ended up using Geohash based hack to map up their locations.  The locations  that were geographically closer seemed to have a longer matching prefix for the computed hash value.

Overall, it seemed liked a well designed application that could even tap the social graph using the API’s of social networks.(Facebook Connect on Iphone)

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March 18, 2009 Posted by | iphone application, mobile application, web application | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Experience with Google App Engine …

Google’s App Engine is a cloud computing offering from Google. It’s currently in Beta like most of their products. It was launched last year around April, 2008 for a limited preview.  It’s currently very tightly controlled and limited by Google, but still very powerful to develop web applications.

The Beta realease lets any developer with a Google Account to develop and deploy upto  10 Web Applications on the Google Server Cloud aka App Engine.  The current version of SDK at 1.1.7  however limits the developer to use the Python Programming Language 2.5 for any app development on their infrastructure. Google has indicated that they will open the platform to other languages soon. I am guessing it would be either PHP or Ruby.

The Documentaion is pretty well developed and easy to follow. I had a chance to play with it a couple of months ago when I my personal Google Account was invited with the development access.  The SDK comes with a light weight server to let you develop & test your application locally. I thought this was a really cool feature to test your app locally without having to install/configure a server like Apache or Tomcat. Once you are satisfied, you can easilt push your code to deployment on Google’s Cloud and get a unique URL http://<sampleApp&gt;.appspot.com to host your application. I was quickly able to code, test & deploy the sample GuestBook Application. I had no prior knowledge of Python back then so I did not really venture out to develop any cool applications.

In the subsequent weeks, the venture of testing out App Engine led me to research about Python and related Web Frameworks.  I came across Django, about which I had heard a lot but never really bothered to look into.  I quickly downloaded it to my machine and got a couple of books from the local library. I had also made myself familiar with the likes of  Python Synatx. Django also came with a local light weight server to test your applications. I was able to quickly follow through the book and write an application. However, I had a hard time to port my application to my hosting provider and get it working. I was able to download and install Django but was never able to serve the app. It was literally a nightmare involving installation, configurations, and googling about getting a Django based app deployed on a non-root account and finally gave up. I personally did not care too much, as I was using my hosting account primarily for serving PHP based facebook applications. Ofcourse it did limit me from using a powerful Django Framework.

So, this past week I was playing with API’s from CrunchBase, Yelp, and Twitter and was able to write a quick and dirty PHP based fun mashup app. Interested with the results, I wanted to write a complete app that would be useful.  I really did not want to do this with PHP, so decided to give App Engine a shot. I was amazed to complete most of the application logic over the weekend and even publish it. The sample tutorial and refrences were amazing to get my work done. The best part was that I did not have to deal with issues related to hosting the application. The Appengine took care of it all. 

In all, I would say that as a developer  App Engine lets you  focus on the logic and implementation of an application, and takes care of the hassles of  delpoyment. It definitely makes writing web applications a fun.  I was really impressed with the power and potential.

PS:  I am struglling to make my Forms look pretty :). Once, I am done with it I will post a link in the Blog

January 12, 2009 Posted by | web application | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment