VorePad - Convore client for iPad– 22 April 2011
– 706 words
I was excited to see Convore when it launched. The idea of a great real-time chat website with an equally excellent real-time API is very exciting. I have experience writing web-based chat systems, so I can understand the challenges and nuances in creating a really good one. Unfortunately, my love affair with the site did not last very long. While the real-time aspect of the site worked great, the UI and navigation was a little confusing and sluggish with full-page reloads where AJAX would have sped things up. So, I found myself visiting the site less often.
Then, two things happened. First, about a month ago, Convore released their iPhone app. It is very snappy and easy to navigate. Second, on March 31 after I gave a presentation at the SF Evented Web meetup, Leah Culver (co-founder of Convore) gave a demo of their real-time long-polling API. This re-piqued my interest in Convore's API. The next day I searched the App Store to see if there were any Convore-related iPad apps. Nada.
I knew what I had to do.
I was looking for an excuse to write a new iPad app to learn a few new things and try out some new ideas I had for app development. So, from April 1 through April 14, for a couple hours a day I worked on VorePad, a fully-featured iPad client for Convore. It includes basically every feature that Convore offers (including the new Private Messages feature) except the ability to create an account (a private API that they do not expose). It was 90% done after the first two days, but you know what they say about the last 10% of software development...
There were several beta testers during development, including Eric Florenzano (another co-founder of Convore). He paid me a great compliment by saying, "Thanks so much for VorePad. It's literally my favorite way to interact with our service." That made my day.
One of the features I am particularly proud of in VorePad is the Growl-like toast message system that displays little bubbles when someone mentions you, stars one of your messages, sends you a private message, or someone posts a message into a favorited group or topic (favorite groups and topics are another feature of the app). I wrote a library to handle the display and layout of the toast bubbles so that they would not overlap with each other and would queue up and wait to be displayed until there is room on the screen (just like the real Growl implementation). Of course, there will probably never be that many bubbles popping up on your screen, but it will be handled correctly if that is ever the case! I plan on open-sourcing the library in a while when I clean it up and make it more generically useable for other apps.
Another neat feature is the ability to create favorite groups and topics. This is a feature in VorePad itself, but perhaps Convore will fold this feature into the main site/API as well. If you mark a group or topic as a favorite, you will see a toast message appear for that group or topic if you are currently looking at a different topic. Tapping the toast message will take you straight to that topic.
Two other goofy features are a Random Event Generator (which will roll dice and flip coins) and the ability to play sounds (again, this only works with other VorePad users, but maybe Convore itself will get sounds someday).
By working on VorePad, I have become much more active on Convore and really enjoy the community that is growing there. My love affair has been rekindled.
Currently the app is on sale for $3.99 - I am planning on raising it to its normal price after the first update is released, so get it while it's cheap!
Here are some promo codes. First come first served!
RXNKMRPT77JT 4JANJ7NNLEMR EAA7EJL39L6F MEWYM77TRL9H NHNJL49XL9RW WJ9KJ4XE39YF KNJJY4TERM4X W3NTF6P6YYFJ N9HW9E94JA66 MTHK6XP9HJ9Y