Eddie Hinkle

indigenous

Final Indigenous Log: The Future of the App

Over a year ago, I was working on Indigenous, the first app I've released in the App Store. It was a great experience but it originally started as a native share sheet extension. From there, more Micropub features were added and then as Microsub was announced, that was built in as well. Ultimately it turned into half-social reader half-Micropub client. This split role has made the code and app structure very complicated. Also the name Indigenous is a challenge as well, as it doesn't describe the purpose of the app at all. I liked the name initially because it was the native experiment for the IndieWeb (and I think it has worked great!), but the time has come where the app needs a name that will explain it's use and purpose for people who might not know about the IndieWeb. In fact, that means the app needs a clear purpose for it to have a clear name.

Going forward, Indigenous will be broken into different apps rather than trying to make a monster app that does everything. I have had three goals of the app up to now:

  • A fun social reader
  • A Micropub app for posting to blogs
  • A reading app for long-form saved articles

These are three very different use cases and they need different UIs and different approaches. So today I'm going to talk about three new apps that I'm planning on developing as open source apps for iOS and macOS (using the unnamed Marzipan effort). This might take awhile to develop, but in the end, I think it will allow me to develop features faster, with a better UI and better overall apps. I call them the Abode Suite.

Remark

Remark is the first of the three Abode Suite apps that will be released and is the project I am currently working on. Remark will be the replacement of the fun social reader aspect of Indigenous. It's name is built on the idea that we read things that people are talking about and saying and we respond or remark on them. This will be primarily a Microsub app with Micropub sprinkled in just enough to allow you to post short notes, replies or reactions. Think of this as an IndieWeb Twitter-like app. I am avoiding most UI work for now because with WWDC 2019 approaching UI is not something you want to spend much time on. The goal is for this app to have a beta sometime during the iOS 13 beta cycle, and release either at the same time as iOS 13 or later this year after iOS 13 is released. When it is released it should support being used on both iPad and Mac but how optimized it is for both of those platforms may be minimal at launch.

Chronicler

Chronicler will be the replacement for the Micropub app for posting to blogs feature of Indigenous. I've wanted to add support for offline authoring of posts, editing/updating posts, and more tools for long-form posting or posting things such as audio and video from Indigenous. My goal is for Chronicler to be a super easy and focused app that allows you to write long-form writing, but also do things like post podcast episodes, short video snippets as well as view and edit previously published posts using some of the new Micropub queries that have been brainstormed recently. This app will be the second app worked on, once Remark is complete and won't have any Microsub involvement.

Anthologist

Anthologist will be the third app of the Abode Suite trio, being a reading app for long-form saved articles. This app will be based on Microsub and won't be optimized for short-form content (although there won't be a technical restriction against it). This app will likely allow you to choose from 1 (or more) channels within your Microsub account to store offline in the app for reading. This could be a channel of saved articles or it could be a channel with some long-form RSS subscriptions. Either way, the focus will be on showing a subset of your Microsub account rather than showing all of your channels. The goal is to hide away the short ephemeral content that might distract you and instead create an environment like Kindle or Apple Books that allows you to get lost in the content of what you are reading rather than getting distracted by social engagement. I have not decided if this will support Micropub at all. Instead, it will likely rely on the share sheet to share the url of the article to the Chronicler share sheet in order to do most writing / reacting. That said, as it progresses, I'm open to feedback and change. This will be the final of the three apps released, so this might be awhile before I get to it, but it's something I always wanted to build into Indigenous but it never felt like it fit.

Thank You

I appreciate everyone that has beta tested Indigenous and downloaded the public version of Indigenous in the iOS App Store. It's been exciting to release my first official iOS app to the public and I hope that this change in direction will only improve the quality of the apps I'm making available.

I'd love to hear feedback. I'm going to be recreating the issues in the Indigenous repo in the three new repos for the apps. If you have suggestions or feedback on any of the specific apps feel free to create issue in their respective GitHub repos: Remark, Chronicler, Anthologist. You can also just write a reply on your website and respond to this post!

Indigenous has been stuck for a bit due to computer, time and focus issues. Unable to sleep tonight I was able to put my thinking cap on regarding several aspects of Indigenous and I think I’ve got some good ideas regarding the future of Indigenous. Now I just need some time...
cleverdevil, have you ended up setting up a drafts Micropub workflow? I have been wanting to use drafts but I don’t want to lose control of the Micropub settings I’ve got in Indigenous so I think I’m gonna add callback and x-url-callback support to Indigenous, which should then allow for easy Micropub support across the Drafts and Shortcuts apps. I even have an idea about merging Siri Intent Shortcuts (the ones that run in the background) with x-callback-url to add support for essentially background x-url-callback support.
🐛 New issue for indigenous-ios by EdwardHinkle

Add keyboard commands for navigating Indigenous

Command-N opens to create a new post Command-R should reply to the currently selected post

You should be able to navigate the channel list to select a channel and then view the timeline for that channel, going through and selecting the various posts.

🐛 New issue for indigenous-ios by EdwardHinkle

Add Siri Shortcuts to turn Dark Mode on and off

Add a Intent based Siri Shortcut to the. Dark Mode on and off so that people can automate a dark mode.
🐛 New issue for indigenous-ios by EdwardHinkle

Read Timeline

Add the ability to have Siri read the current Timeline to you audibly, including descriptions such as “an article titled X. The summary reads Y”.

This should also be tracked as a Siri Shortcut that can be triggered audibly and plays the audio back in the background.

🐛 New issue for indigenous-ios by EdwardHinkle

RSVP to the same event as an RSVP

An RSVP post should have a nice status display of both the RSVP status and the event date/time/location.

It should also provide the option to “RSVP” to the same event that the existing RSVP, RSVPs to.

Really excited that Indigenous has received 74 downloads 😲 Wow. I’m sure to some, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but it does seem like a lot to me! Still working on the next updates.

Indigenous v1.0 is in the App Store! (Indigenous Development Log #3)

So I achieved my goal of release version 1.0 of Indigenous in the iOS App Store before the end of June!

The catch? It didn't have all the features I wanted to get in and it still has some random weird bugs I need to work through. But I set a pre-order date in the App Store and just kept working and creating new versions and uploading them. The current version that the App Store release yesterday (June 30th) was v1.0.1, but v1.0.2 is currently in review and should be released in the next couple of days.

So what has changed between 0.3 and 1.0.2? A lot.

I would say the four primary changes are: Theme Support (Yes, Indigenous has embraced the Dark Side), Full Post view, Timeline Response Bar, and an Onboarding Screens for New Users.

Theme Support

Light Theme Dark Theme

Themes are almost always appreciated in iOS apps, but ESPECIALLY in reading apps. I’ve started off by building support in Indigenous for a Light theme and a Dark Theme (called Cardinal and Zombie, respectively).

The base color of the light theme is white and the base color of the dark theme is black. The text color should invert and the tint color throughout the app should change from the light red to teal color. There are some bugs and It’s just first steps as far as these themes go. I want to add support for changing the theme based on screen brightness and find other ways to optimize. Eventually maybe we can even add some new themes… maybe some Easter egg themes even!

Timeline Response Bar

Timeline Response Bar

One thing I’ve always loved about using Tweetbot has been the ability to just tap on a tweet and instantly respond to it. I wanted to make sure Indigenous had that ease of use. So I’ve added a Timeline Response Bar. When you tap on a post in the Timeline view, it shows a response bar. Currently the response bar presents 5 options: Like, Repost, Reply, Share, and More.

Like and Repost instantly send a Micropub request with those actions taken on the URL of the post in the Timeline.

Reply opens a reply window, so you can type out a reply to the post.

Share opens the URL of the Timeline post in the native iOS share sheet so you can do anything you feel like you want to do with the post. (Until I officially build in IndiePaper support, I use the Share action to send posts I want to read later to my Saved channel using the IndiePaper Workflow.

More lets you do other, less common actions. Right now this makes available the ability to: “Mark post as read/unread”, “Mark posts below as read” and “delete post”. Marking post as read/unread is a toggle that changes the read status of the post. Mark posts below as read, marks all the posts that come before that on as read, which is helpful when trying to quickly mark a bunch of stuff read. Finally, delete post is great for when you get a post in your timeline that you just never want to see again.

Full Post View

Full Post View

This was something I have been wanting to get into Indigenous for awhile. When you swipe left on a Timeline post, instead of opening the post’s original URL in an in-app browser, it actually loads the post into a Full Post View, allowing you to read an entire article with HTML displays and everything.

I’ve been really enjoying this, especially with IndiePaper . My goal is for Indigenous to one day completely replace my use of Instapaper and with the public release of Indigenous I am getting pretty close.

When you scroll in Full Post View, the top and bottom bars disappear, allowing you to just focus on reading the article.

Speaking of the bottom bar, the bottom bar allows you to do everything that the Timeline Response Bar does, with the addition of one thing: opening the post in Safari. Sometimes you might get to the Full Post View and realize you just really need to visit the page that this post is from, and that’s what the Safari icon does!

On-boarding Screens

Onboarding Screen about Indigenous Onboarding Screen about Micropub Onboarding Screen about Microsub Indigenous Login Screen

With Micropub and Microsub being a relatively new protocol and not many people outside the IndieWeb community having support for these technologies, I knew I needed to find a bit more of a user friendly way to introduce these concepts. My solution was a couple on-boarding screens with links to help pages on the Indigenous for iOS website.

The on-boarding screens essentially introduce the concept of Indigenous, the use of Micropub, the use of Microsub and then has the user login via IndieAuth.

The Writing page links to the Micropub Help Page which highlights the most popular services and software that support Micropub as well as some links for more technically inclined folks.

The Reading page links to the Microsub Help Page which explains what Microsub is and highlights what services and software support Microsub (spoiler: currently, Only Aperture, although I’ll continue to expand this page as new Microsub services and software come available).

The Login page links to the IndieAuth Help Page which explains what IndieAuth is and highlights the most popular services and software that support IndieAuth as well as some links for more technically inclined folks.

The goal with all of these help pages is to make it as easy as possible to use popular software and services that people know of in order to get up and running as easily as possible. So I link to help pages or tutorials when available and plugins when needed.

So what’s next?

I’m quickly working on the next version of Indigenous. Here are some highlights of the top priority things that I’m working on:

  • Ability to manage Channels and Feeds

  • iPad layout improvements

  • Changing font/margin settings in Full Post view

  • Working on known bugs

The Nitty Gritty

If you want all the nitty gritty on the features and bug fixes in this release, it’s all listed below for you.

Features

  • Added Theme Support (Currently 1 light and 1 dark theme)

  • Added Full Post view that supports showing an entire article in an immersive reading mode along with a response bar at the bottom.

  • Added a response bar to the Timeline when a post is tapped.

  • New On-boarding Screens when the app is launched without any users being logged in.

  • Channel List filters now persist between launches

  • Improvements to when posts are marked as read

  • Added the ability to delete a post from the Timeline

  • Added a summary fallback attribute to "like" and "bookmark" Micropub posts that are published to servers that don't support like or bookmark posts.

  • Added simple summary text to the Timeline to improve when a post is a "like" or a "bookmark" post.

  • Added a Microsub help screen in place of the Channels list if the user has logged in with Micropub only.

Bugs

  • Fixed some iPad related crashes

  • Fixed some sizing issues with smaller iPhones

  • Wordpress Emoji images are no longer treated as "Post Photos"

Indigenous v1.0.3 has been approved and should be on the App Store soon. It has new on-boarding screens when you’re not logged in, updated compatibility with micro.blog’s IndieAuth, as well as bug fixes. A new Indigenous Development Log blog post is coming soon.
@cleverdevil.io As far as integrating IndiePaper into Indigenous, you can only have one Share Extension (Colored Icon), but you can have many Action Extensions (Gray Icons). Do you picture “Save for Later” as an entry inside of the Share Extension or as a dedicated Action Extension? I can see both working, but the Action Extension seems the smoothest, but would have to be activated separately within the Share Sheet.
One of my tasks today during #IWS18 was to deploy a site for Indigenous’ upcoming release! Check it out here, complete with a help page that I can link to from within the app itself. #IndieWeb
Pretty excited! Indigenous is coming together. It’s available for pre-order this week, in celebration of IndieWebSummit 2018. It’s set to release at the end of the week (I’ve got last minute stuff that is being added). But the most recent build (for Beta testers later today), has Dark Mode, a response bar in the Timeline and a Full Article view when you swipe left.
Indigenous goes to the Dark Side 🧟‍♂️
Yay!! The Pre-Order page for Indigenous is live in the App Store!! Indigenous - Social Timeline by Studio H, LLC
🐛 New issue for indigenous-ios by EdwardHinkle

Provide settings option to choose default browser

Since iOS doesn’t provide a default browser option. Indigenous should check for some standard browser apps and provide options as for which one the user wants to use as a default app. Then anytime they want to open a URL from Indigenous, it will open the link in that browser
💥 Indigenous Pre-Order is approved! Propagating to the iOS App Store! Now I just have to finish final features for the Official Release! Review Time only took 1 day #iosreviewtime
🤞 While the app doesn’t have 100% of the features I want to launch with, I’m trying my luck with the current built in App Review. If this works, the app will appear in the App Store with a pre-order available.
Indigenous v0.3 should now be available on TestFlight! Progress is coming along nicely for 0.4, should be able to get a new beta out this week sometime.
🐛 New issue for indigenous-ios by EdwardHinkle

Show number of unread posts on channel when in timeline view

When in timeline view you can begin to wonder how many posts are left unread as you scroll down an old channel. It would be nice to see the total number of unread posts
Please note: This site is in an active redesign. Some things might be a little off 🧐