Posts tagged developers
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What BackboneJS clearly does not own, however, is the future.
That distinction goes to AngularJS, the popular framework gestated at Google. Though BackboneJS has a head start in terms of deployments, AngularJS rules the community—and community, in the long run, always wins.
Actually, no—you won’t hear anyone say SproutCore anymore.
In its day (five years ago, an eternity on the Web), SproutCore was everyone’s darling. It was what Charles Jolley and his team used to build Apple’s iCloud apps. It enabled developers to build sophisticated Web and mobile apps. It was cool.
Until it wasn’t.
BackboneJS more or less replaced it, used by LinkedIn and others. But then along came EmberJS (born from the ashes of SproutCore), then AngularJS, then ReactJS….
AngularJS, however, seems different.
AngularJS, like MongoDB and MySQL in the database world, makes Web application development simple. It’s so easy to get started, it lowers hurdles to developers itching to build their apps.
Of course, “simple” can be deceptive. As Anand Mani Sankar describes:
The AngularJS journey can evoke mixed feelings. The learning curve is very different from other JS frameworks. The initial barrier to get started is very low. But once you start diving deep the learning curve suddenly becomes steep.
But it’s not just AngularJS’ initial simplicity that makes it appealing. As its creator, Misko Hevery, notes:
This ability to live in HTML is powerful: It’s not super complicated yet also very expressive. It allows Web developers to do a lot with comparatively little.
The Community Has Spoken
Developers love it. Really, really love it.
Other ways of measuring popularity, like StackOverflow mentions or Google searches, also favor AngularJS.
As VisionMobile finds, AngularJS has twice as many posts as BackboneJS and EmberJS combined on Stackoverflow, and 65X more than relative newcomer ReactJS.
It’s hard to argue with those numbers.
Perhaps even more compelling, however, are the employment trends for the different frameworks. As developer jobs site Indeed reveals, AngularJS dwarfs every other framework, whether measured in terms of absolute jobs posted (as seen below) or relative job growth.
So Has AngularJS Won?
None of which means you must use AngularJS. Fans of EmberJS, for example, will appreciate its more careful approach to backward compatibility, an area in which AngularJS has not done very well.
And then there’s ReactJS, a framework developed at Facebook that has lately been leading the pack in terms of innovation. Many of the other frameworks, including AngularJS, have borrowed from ReactJS’ approach, signaling that it may be the new framework to beat.
Or, really, there may be any number of reasons to choose one framework over another, as we’ve covered here at ReadWrite before.
But if you’re hoping to find safety in numbers, your choice is clear: AngularJS. It’s the clear community winner, and is starting to match that outsized community with real-world app deployments. That may not declare it the once-and-for-all winner, but it’s a pretty compelling argument for at least giving it a try.
Photo by Phil Whitehouse
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Dropbox gave developers another toy today, unveiling a new API to go with a new “groups” feature it has just formally introduced into its Dropbox for Business service.
The groups feature allows users to create of lists of users that get access to a set of files. Dropbox insists this makes for more efficient sharing with coworkers and is “especially great” with training new employees. It explains the feature this way:
Using groups, you can create and manage lists of members to share information directly with the group instead of adding each person individually. Any new member you add to a group will be automatically added to all shared folders that the group has been invited to. You can also manage the entire group’s permissions to what you’re sharing by granting editing or view-only access.
Dropbox said the groups feature was the function most requested by business customers. It’s been in beta testing since November, when over 12,000 customers signed up for early access.
The groups API lets developers build the feature into their applications. Several Dropbox partners like CloudLock, Bitium, and Okta—which offer various combinations of security and user-identity management services—got early access to the API so as to extend their security options to ad-hoc groups of users.
It wasn’t entirely clear what other features developers might implement using the groups API.
Photo by Joris Louwes
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That vaguely creeped out feeling you get from Googling something for the first time and then seeing ads for it when you log on to Facebook two minutes later? It’s soon going to follow you to your Android games.
Google announced Monday that it will offering game developers additional tools in the form of player analytics and additional features in AdMob, Google’s mobile advertising platform. Google says the analytics will launch within “the next few weeks” and should give developers greater insight into average revenue per paying user, session habits, and more.
Analytics And Advertising
“At launch, we’re using achievements the developer has included as a way of measuring progress,” Greg Hartrell, senior product manager at Google Play Games, said in an interview with ReadWrite. “This gives tools to the developers so they can craft their progression data.”
Developers will also be able to track player progress more discreetly with hidden milestones, Hartrell said, created using custom event tags they can then follow with the new analytics. “We launched player stats last year to give you a simple way to look at basic data like daily active users or demographics,” he said. “This we’ve been working on since last year.”
In its official blog post, Google claims one beta user, San Francisco-based BombSquad, was able to double its revenue per user on Google Play with the new information.
Google also announced three additions to AdMob: visually native ads within games, better ad targeting, and an audience builder. The native ad initiative allows developers to show ads in their game from Google advertisers, but customize them such that they are aesthetically consistent with the game.
Perhaps the most exciting announcement for developers—though least exciting for players’ wallets—is a new AdMob feature (launching “in a few weeks”) that will predict which customers are most likely to make in-app purchases. The audience builder gives developers a tool to create sorted lists of their users based on in-game behavior.
New API For Android TV
Launching alongside these changes is the Nearby Connections API (see our API explainer), which will allow games on Android phones or tablets to connect to Android TV. Users will use their mobile device as a controller while the game runs on the TV. The current example is Beach Buggy Racing, with a planned summertime release.
The devices all need to be running the same version of the game and be on the same WiFi network, at which point the TV and the devices can create their own p2p network that lets the magic happen.
You should expect more games using this API in the next few months. “We have a handful of developers in different phases of development,” said Benjamin Frenkel, a Google Play Games product manager. “We’re elated by the response. We’ll show demonstrations on Monday using the Android TV ecosystem.”
Lead image by Anita Hart; others courtesy of Google
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Yahoo courted app makers hard at its first Mobile Developers Conference in San Francisco on Thursday. CEO Marissa Mayer joined with Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf and several lead members of the Flurry team to tempt mobile developers with analytics and advertising tools.
The pitch: Develop with Yahoo, and we’ll give you everything you need to make money.
Toward that end, the company announced a new mobile developer suite—a set of tools that pulls in Flurry analytics, a new dashboard for basic or fine-grained app queries, easy and efficient one-click data sharing, and, of course, mobile advertisements pushing native ads and video ads.
This showcase for profit-making potential was a logical conclusion of Yahoo’s buying spree, having picked up BrightRoll for video ad placements and mobile analytics firm Flurry. Combined with Yahoo Gemini, its mobile-ad platform, they formed a triumvirate powering Yahoo’s bid to deliver on its promise of becoming a “mobile-first” company.
What’s Inside The Box
The suite boils down to a few key components. Flurry data analytics and the Explorer console offer a way for developers to explore their app’s data in real time. There’s also Flurry Pulse, a tool that lets developers share data with partners of their choice “with one click of a button,” said Prashant Fuloria, Yahoo’s mobile advertising honcho who was chief product officer for Flurry.
The kit also provides tools for app publishing, Yahoo search in apps and Yahoo app marketing, as well as the ability to tie into digital measurement tools by new partner comScore.
The overarching theme stands in stark contrast to other developer events that hinge on the cool, interesting features app makers can offer their users (á la Apple) or a broad sweep of front and backend changes that make building apps easier and faster (as Google can offer via Android).
By contrast, Yahoo’s singular power play focuses laser-like on revenue, in the apparent assumption that pitching the company’s ability to help line the pockets of app builders will be the sexier message.
App developers interested in getting started can begin by signing up at developer.yahoo.com.
Photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite
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Joyent officially remains optimistic that IO contributors will eventually return to the fork’s master branch. But it’s not taking any chances that IO might start catching fire. Its latest strategy: Set up a startup incubator with major benefits for developers who stick to using Node.
The company’s Node.js Incubator Program is designed for companies, startups, and individuals doing interesting things with Node. Members will receive Joyent’s training and support, $25,000 worth of services in Joyent Cloud Hosting, tools and debugging, access to Node project leader Timothy J Fontaine, plus marketing and networking opportunities.
One more thing: Developers using IO instead of Node are, well, not invited.
“IO.js, what’s that?” asked Joyent CEO Scott Hammond in response to my query about whether projects based on the fork would be able to enter. “This is a Node.js project for Node.js innovations.”
Hammond said applicants will be considered first and foremost on the originality of their projects, from “Web apps to robotics to Internet of Things applications.” Applicants will be able to connect with Joyent at the Node Summit, to be held February 10-11 in San Francisco, and participants in the incoming class will be selected and announced shortly afterward.
When companies are choosing whether to consider Node or IO, this incubator may sway their opinions toward the former.
“[The incubator is about] evangelizing Node.js, finding faster on-ramps for other projects to evaluate Node.js to see if it fits their platform requirements, and help educate the community,” Hammond said. “It’s a knowledge transfer. We want to open Node up widely to show how well it runs.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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European Apple users got a holiday bonus recently: Apple now offers a new two-week return policy for iTunes, App Store and iBooks customers in the U.K., Germany, Italy, France and other countries in the European Union.
Apple’s previous policy restricted refunds to a narrow set of circumstances where the user might claim they never got the app in question—before “delivery of the product has started.” Apple support reps could make exceptions when glitches or busy servers made downloading impossible, but people had to contact them first.
Now residents in many European countries won’t have to deal with that hassle. But their win could be a thorny issue for app developers.
European Users May Cheer, But Not All App Makers Will
The official change in policy likely stems from an E.U. mandate last June that requires retailers to provide a 14-day right of cancellation or return period. Likewise, the new terms expand the review period to 14 days, within which users can get a refund, no questions asked.
Right of cancellation: If you choose to cancel your order, you may do so within 14 days from when you received your receipt without giving any reason, except iTunes Gifts which cannot be refunded once you have redeemed the code.
The refund policy does not apply to iTunes gift cards. In all other cases, however, there’s little to stop people from trying out apps and then getting their money back. (They can request it online via the “Report a Problem” tool, or by writing to the company).
That may be a welcome change for users, but it can complicate matters for app makers. Thanks to the policy, people may try out paid apps and choose to keep ones they wouldn’t have downloaded before. In the best-case scenario, it could wind up lifting its already exploding digital economy even further. The iTunes store brought in $4.6 billion in revenue last quarter, including 85 billion App Store downloads.
Sounds great. But developers who make high-value apps—like games—could wind up being collateral damage if users get in the habit of grabbing them for a specific purpose, then demanding refunds.
For instance, you can keep your visiting brother out of your hair with “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” and then ask for the $6.99 back after he leaves in a week. No questions asked. It would be the equivalent of buying a DVD, watching the movie, and then returning it—something most retail stores don’t allow.
It’s already hard enough to get users to pay for apps up front. The refund policy will likely push more app developers to offer free games with in-app purchases, such as new levels or abilities that can only be unlocked if the player pays up.
On the other hand, a more liberal refund policy could prompt users to download paid apps they might otherwise have passed up. If those users end up keeping the app, that’s money the developer might not otherwise have seen.
A Test Case
In the U.S., brick-and-mortar retailers tend to offer a similar refund policy that can run anywhere from one week to a couple of months, depending on the purchase and the location. But there’s no universally applied law covering all retailers, both physical and digital—and in most cases, playable media like movies and video games can only be returned unopened.
Apple’s new terms apply to E.U. countries only. The old, annoying restrictions on refunds live on for Mac and iOS users in the U.S., Canada and other non-E.U. countries.
Photo collaged by Adriana Lee, based on image by OTA Photos
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Since then, the future of Node.js has been brought into question as Node contributors and clients alike debated which version of the project they ought to use from now on.
This debate is possible because open-source licenses give developers the ability to copy and modify all of the software code for a given project. Most of the time, open-source communities try to sort out disagreements and keep one standardize version of the code. When they can’t agree, a fork results, with two or more versions of the code base developing separately.
And the debate matters, because big companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Uber use Node for applications used by hundreds of millions of people. Developers at those companies will want to know which version of Node they can rely on.
Some open-source forks have made life difficult for developers. In this case, while the Node.js/IO.js fork is real, it hasn’t yet developed into the kind of contentious situation that will force developers to pick sides.
ReadWrite spoke to two big names in the Node.js community: Scott Hammond, CEO of Joyent, Node’s corporate steward, and Isaac Schlueter, the former Node project lead at Joyent who’s now CEO of NPM, maker of a Node package manager, and the second most prolific contributor to Node.
What we learned is that even if the fork has left users understandably confused, Node community leaders are on the same page on the biggest issues.
Here are some facts gleaned from the interviews that Node developers ought to know.
It Was A Surprise To Everyone
Previous to the November fork, there were tensions in the Node.js community. Earlier that month, we predicted there could be a schism. Since October, Node contributors had been using Node Forward, a community effort to improve the open source project, to air their grievances about Joyent’s stewardship.
According to Schlueter, six of the most high-ranking Node contributors had hoped to create a fork of Node named Node Forward, which would be a “collaborative fork,” a supplement to the work going on at Node.js. However, the fork was quickly made private after Hammond told the contributors there would be a legal issue if they used the Node name, on which Joyent holds the trademark.
Issues over the trademark were slowing down work, so in the last week of November, Fedor Indutny, one of the top contributors, decided to give it a different name, IO.js, and continue with his work. Since it was Thanksgiving break in America, the other contributors didn’t see the new fork had become public until Hacker News picked it up. When that happened, even Indutny was surprised by the repercussions of the fork.
“The guy is allergic to politics,” Schlueter said. “When somebody pinged Fedor to tell him the fork was on Hacker News, he was like, ‘Oh, right, that’s what happens when you do something like this.’ He was surprised it was such a big deal.”
Hammond said that he doesn’t believe IO.js was intended as a bargaining chip for negotiations with Joyent about existing tensions.
“This was not premeditated, it was not some political coup,” he said. “It was a unilateral action by one individual to do some experiments with code.”
IO.js Wasn’t The First Name Choice
Schlueter noted sardonically that if they had kept the Node Forward name instead of choosing something unique, it would have been obvious that it was a collaborative fork. With the new name, however, even Joyent leaders were taken aback. Schlueter said that when the newly formed Node.js advisory board met after the fork, he fielded concern from Hammond.
“Scott was concerned and genuinely wanted to know, ‘Hey what is this? Are you giving up on this project?’” Schlueter said. “I reiterated that it is exactly the same as Node Forward, only we couldn’t use the name.”
Hammond said all the major IO.js contributors were invited to the advisory meeting, and after it was over, he felt that everyone was on the same page again.
“[Indutny] was just anxious to run some experiments with really early code,” said Hammond. “Fedor’s actions were interesting, but I think everybody has come back together unanimously that we’re still very committed.”
Interestingly, Ryan Dahl, the original creator of Node.js, wanted to call it IO.js. So Indutny’s name is a bit of a throwback to the project’s roots.
The Kernel Is Just A Small Part Of Node
It’s easy to see why people would assume a fork like IO.js is meant to replace Node.js. Yet that’s not the intent, according to Schlueter. In the Node community, there are two competing motivations that cause tension in the Node.js project that could be relieved by having two different yet collaborative forks.
“We have this really interesting structure with Node: a really small kernel that enables a really huge ecosystem,” said Schlueter. “Most people who use Node don’t know much about the core runtime is. They use Express.js or Grunt—services built on Node and distributed with NPM. What’s interesting about that is that it makes Node fragile—too drastic a change will make the entire ecosystem fall apart.”
Users need a consistent and stable Node.js in order for their dependencies to work. As a result, Node contributors complain that development is extremely slow and overly cautious. Since the Node kernel, which top contributors work on, is divorced from most people’s Node implementations, IO.js is supposed to be a place where contributors can work more quickly on the kernel and get things done without having to tiptoe over customer needs.
Because IO.js popped up in an unexpected manner, this wasn’t obvious to members of the Node community. to the aforementioned tensions in the Node community, news of IO.js wasn’t completely unwelcome in the community, even if nobody knew why the fork had occurred.
“Basically whatever [a community member’s] personal beef was, they decided to hang it on IO.js,” said Schlueter. “We didn’t have our stuff together to actually tell them what the motivations were.”
Schlueter wrote a blog post as a first step to correcting those misapprehensions.
Node’s Problem Is Communication, Not Collaboration
In short, Node.js has a communication problem. Node Forward—now IO.js—was never meant to be separate from or incompatible with Node.
Since Schlueter is a former Joyent employee and the former leader of the Node.js project, he said he sympathizes with Hammond, who joined the company as CEO this summer. He believes Node.js and IO.js will merge again—but that Joyent has to be on board with the idea that Node can no longer be controlled by any one single interest.
“There’s this interesting transition that happens with an open source project where it goes from just one person, to needing some kind of organization heading it, to truly being owned by the community,” said Schlueter. “Node is shifting from step two to three this year. It can be difficult for a coorporation to see the benefit of handing control to over to a community, but my hope is that Joyent is coming around to this.”
Hammond had similar sentiments about Node’s shift. Since 2009, the open source project has grown quickly. Today it has thousands of users, clients, and contributing developers.
“Node is a living project and it will continue to grow and evolve and mature,” said Hammond. “It blew past middle school without any structure to deal with these issues, so it’s not surprising there was discontent. Every project goes through growing pains.”
Hammond said that he still has trust in the Node community:
“Everyone wants a community-driven project, an environment with passionate, engaged software developers who can contribute to code and we have that. We can heal this fork.”
Photo by zeevveez
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Two years ago Digital Ocean had a mere 140 Web-facing servers and a simple mission: make developers lives easier. Today the New York City-based cloud provider runs 116,000 servers and surpassed Rackspace to become the world’s third-largest Web-facing cloud, according to Netcraft data.
Digital Ocean, once a puddle, is living up to its name. That should have competitors worried, especially given Digital Ocean’s uncanny ability to make lots of money selling to individual developers, Atlassian-style.
While the company is quick to suggest it’s not competitive with Amazon Web Services, its rabid attention to developers increasingly makes it a cloud AWS can ill-afford to overlook.
To learn more about how Digital Ocean caters to developers, I sat down with Mitch Wainer, co-founder and CMO.
ReadWrite: DigitalOcean has been growing faster than the overall cloud market. What are you doing that is different from what other cloud providers do?
Mitch Wainer: Being developers ourselves, we were often frustrated by the complexity of the majority of cloud providers that catered to the needs of enterprise. That’s why we focused on building a platform that enables and educates developers to successfully launch, configure, and scale their apps on an infrastructure environment with minimal manual effort.
Developers Are Job One
RW: Digital Ocean claims to be developer-centric. What is it that you’ve built that is particularly developer-friendly?
Wainer: Ultimately, we made user experience a top priority. We set out to create the simplest infrastructure solution that would cater to the needs of individual developers.
The combination of having a simple user interface, straightforward pricing, fast hardware, and provisioning created a very attractive offering for developers. Our API is easy to consume, follows GitHub schema, is curl-able and restful. All of these things greatly reduce the barrier of entry to getting an application into production, which we feel is the bottom-line for developers.
RW: Everyone targets developers these days, but most companies mostly fail to appeal to them. What is it that separates truly developer-friendly apps or infrastructure from those that aren’t?
Wainer: Many companies try to appeal to the broader developer market, but few actually focus on making an ideal solution for the individual developer. We feel a responsibility to ensure every feature we come out with remains simple and puts the user first.
With the Digital Ocean platform, a lot of the guess work from pricing to feature sets is removed—you know exactly what you’re going to get, you know it’s going to be good, you know it’s going to scale with your application easily, and you know exactly how much you’re going to pay for it every month.
RW: AWS is the 8,000 pound gorilla in the cloud. What can Digital Ocean or anyone else possibly do to disrupt AWS?
Wainer: We don’t consider Amazon a competitor. They’re a great company shipping awesome tools for the enterprise, but at the end of the day that’s not our scene. We’re focused on simpler alternatives that are more user-friendly and truly built for the individual developer.
Getting Out Of Developers’ Way
RW: You make it easy for developers to deploy an application to your infrastructure, but who manages infrastructure/operations in this developer-centric world?
Wainer: We strongly believe that developers will increasingly become the decision makers in technology as more businesses come online. So the best thing we can do as their infrastructure provider is give them an extremely reliable foundation, the best tools, and community resources so ultimately we can stay out of their way and let them be in total control.
We offer one-click installs of leading open-source technologies such as Docker and CoreOS. We have an active community platform where everyone from beginners to sysadmins can come and read Linux tutorials, as well as partake in conversations around open source.
Developers don’t want their infrastructure provider to hand hold them through the experience—they know what they want for their applications. It’s our job to empower them with the best foundation, tools, and educational resources.
RW: Digital Ocean is based in New York City. Tell me about the New York startup scene and why a new crop of developer-friendly startups are cropping up there. Is NYC the new Silicon Valley?
Wainer: The energy of the startup scene is palpable in NYC, and people from a wide variety of professional backgrounds are changing their career paths to get involved. We’ve got finance experts, designers, management consultants, and advertising creatives bringing over their unique perspectives and highly specialized expertise.
The result is a blend of entrepreneurial spirit, aesthetic intuition, and financial savvy that continues to fuel explosive growth. Add to that a fast-growing number of young, talented developers coming out of places like the Flatiron School and General Assembly and you’ve got a recipe for innovation that’s particular to New York.
Lead photo by George Thomas
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