Thursday, August 4, 2011

2.1: In With The New, Out With The Old

I'm pleased to say that 2cloud 2.1 is nearing the end of its beta phase. Our beta testers have worked hard and deserve a big round of applause for all the testing they've done on such short notice. Really, this project owes a lot to them (especially after the 2.0 debacle—we're pretty sure that won't be happening again).

Here's the important bit: we're going to be rolling out the update to the Android Market and the Chrome webstore at 11pm, EST Friday the fifth. Saturday the sixth at noon (again, EST), the android2cloud.appspot.com server will begin returning errors. In an attempt to shake off some legacy users who never updated and are costing us some CPU, we've moved hosts. The new extension and Android app default to the new public server: 2cloudapp.appspot.com. All data from android2cloud.appspot.com will be ported over to the new server. This doesn't mean much now, but it hopefully will in the future.

I'm really embarrassed about the lack of new features in this version, but hopefully you can forgive that for the other improvements. We're pretty proud of the work we did in the short time we had, and feel pretty good about the base we have to build off of now. We already announced that we're deprecating support for Android 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0 to focus on providing a better experience for the 2.1+ crowd. But we've also done a bit of reworking in our software:

  • We've also gotten a lot more robust. Now our errors actually talk to you! Not literally (though that would be kind of cool.. or annoying), but through dialog boxes. If the app runs into a problem it won't crash or fail silently, leaving you with no idea what's going on (except in very rare cases, and we're trying to remove those one by one). Instead, the app throws up an error with some options. If it thinks an error log will help, it offers to send an error report to us as an email. You can click a button, check the information it will send (it just opens your default mail client), and send it off as a bug report. We'll get back to you with more information and a fix, because it's hooked right into our lovely help system (graciously provided by Tender).
  • We've implemented a quota. I'm not going to talk too much about that here because we've got an entire blog post about it set up for a bit later, but suffice to say it's a bit nicer and more verbose than the server just shutting off and the app ceasing to function with no explanation.
  • The Chrome extension has gotten its icon back! But this is a new, improved icon-on-steroids. It has a status indicator (green for connected, white for disconnected, red for error, blank for connecting) and context-aware clicking. Click when connected to disconnect. Click when disconnected to connect. Click when there's an error for more information.
  • The Chrome extension also has a much prettier install experience. Dylan put his design genius to work again, creating an aesthetic install flow that puts my old hacked-together wizard to shame.
  • This probably doesn't matter to most of you, but we have much better documentation now. Information on the project, on contributing, on the license, on installing or building your own clients... all this and more is available in our lovely README file and our website.
  • All our source is on Github, and is much more structured and readable than it was. We have a long way to go yet—we swear, unit testing is at the top of our priorities! (right next to Firefox...)—but this is a marked improvement over where we were just six months ago. We're going to keep learning and improving, and hope you guys will bear with us. Fork us! We ♥ pull requests!
  • This one's for the developers out there: we're ready to commit to endpoints! We've got the 2cloud-dev mailing list set up for people who want to build this functionality into their applications, and we've got documentation on how to create a client or server on each of the Github repos' wikis (Android, App Engine, Chrome) coming very soon.

As you can see, we've kept busy. We've got a lot of stuff we're looking at for our next versions, too:

  • Chrome In-App Payments
  • Link history in Android and Chrome
  • Device dropdown
  • Native account support
  • C2DM
  • Firefox support
  • iOS support
  • Tablet-friendly!
  • Sending links to friends
  • Binary content (images, videos)

Of course, we're going to try to keep improving our code, fixing bugs, and improving our administration at the same time. Also note, we can't promise any of those features. They're just things that have caught our eye and appended to our wishlist.

We hope you enjoy 2.1, and we hope you'll give us feedback on what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong. Both are useful in their own way.

4 comments:

  1. Are you planning on updating the donation version, or should we switch over to the free one?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would switch over to the free version. I'll keep updating the donation version (it just takes me a little time to do, and this update is a bit more complicated), but I can't promise this will always be the case. I will warn you guys before the Donation version goes away, though, probably with an email.

    Thanks for donating. :) I know it's a poor repayment, but you'll probably get an update sometime tomorrow on the donation version.

    ReplyDelete
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