Archive for May 17, 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

JSON Feed

Brent Simmons and Manton Reece (via John Gruber, Hacker News):

The JSON Feed format is a pragmatic syndication format, like RSS and Atom, but with one big difference: it’s JSON instead of XML.

For most developers, JSON is far easier to read and write than XML. Developers may groan at picking up an XML parser, but decoding JSON is often just a single line of code.

Our hope is that, because of the lightness of JSON and simplicity of the JSON Feed format, developers will be more attracted to developing for the open web.

Seems like a good idea. Sure, it’s another standard, so if it catches on this will create more work for people writing code in this area. But the fact that it’s so easy to use could open up more possibilities, and I assume that it will be more amenable to the needs of new services. There’s a WordPress plug-in.

See also: Dave Winer (2012).

Update (2017-05-17): See also: Brent Simmons.

Update (2017-05-18): See also: Manton Reece.

Update (2017-05-30): John Gruber:

The DF RSS feed isn’t going anywhere, so if you’re already subscribed to it, there’s no need to switch. But JSON Feed’s spec makes it possible for me to specify both a url that points to the post on Daring Fireball (i.e. the permalink) and an external_url that points to the article I’m linking to. The way I’ve dealt with that in the RSS (technically Atom, but that’s sort of beside the point) is a bit of a hack that’s caused problems with numerous feed readers over the years.

Ben Ubois:

One of the criticisms I’ve seen of JSON Feed is that there’s no incentive for feed readers to support JSON Feed. This is not true. One of the largest-by-volume support questions I get is along the lines of “Why does this random feed not work?” And, 95% of the time, it’s because the feed is broken in some subtle way. JSON Feed will help alleviate these problems, because it’s easier to get right.

Update (2017-06-01): See also: The Talk Show.

Update (2017-06-02): See also: Chris Siebenmann.

Update (2017-06-12): See also: Dave Winer.

TidBITS News Shows How an Old 32-bit iOS App Becomes 64-bit

Matt Neuburg:

To revive TidBITS News, therefore, I effectively had to rewrite the code from scratch as if I were creating the same app today, doing things the iOS 10 way. Luckily, TidBITS News is a fairly small, simple app; it has only three “scenes” — the master view (the list of article headlines and blurbs), the detail view (one complete article), and the player view (for listening to a recorded version of an article). But imagining a much more elaborate app, you can appreciate why a developer might not be willing to recast an old 32-bit app as 64-bit — it could be more work than it’s worth. (And the fact that Apple forces all updates to be given away for free means that it will generate absolutely no income from existing users. Is it any wonder apps are abandoned?)

Previously: iOS to Drop Support for 32-bit Apps.

FastMail “Lifetime” Member Plans

brong (via Hacker News):

FYI, we’re finally closing off guest and member accounts entirely. […] We have already not allowed new signups at those service levels for quite some time. We are offering very generous discounts for upgrades.

In 2002, the member account promised a lifetime mail account for a one-time $14.95 fee.

David:

The member accounts were introduced at a critical time in Fastmail’s development, when they needed serious funding (when they first went paid).

[…]

That Fastmail have honored their commitment (to keep these accounts valid, over all these years) I consider impeccable.

Now they are reneging on that deal, although obviously anyone who signed up 15 years ago got a tremendous value. I don’t really understand why FastMail is doing this, since it seems like the 16 MB storage quota on the old plan would be enough to entice most users to upgrade. Anyone remaining wouldn’t drain their resources much—except perhaps for customer support. Is it really worth sullying their reputation? If the situation is so dire that they’ll go out of business if they keep their word, then as a satisfied non-lifetime customer I’m glad they’re not going down in flames to prove a point. On the other hand, it is worrying that either they’re simply choosing not to honor their commitment or that the business I’m relying on is that close to collapse.

The bottom line: customers should never count on anything actually being lifetime, businesses should only offer such plans as a last resort, and anyone who really cares about their e-mail address should get their own domain.

Moom vs. the Rectangular Grid Patent

Many Tricks (tweet):

The one change was to the grid, which switched from rectangular (with the circles of 3.2.7) to the new hexagonal layout, as seen at right.

Why did we change the design? Late last week, we learned there’s a US patent that covers resizing windows using a rectangular grid in a miniature preview image. We learned this when the patent’s owner told us they believed Moom’s grid was infringing on their patent. For now, we have redesigned the grid in such a way that no infringement claim can be made, and we’re working on further improvements.

This sort of thing should not be patentable. Plus, the timeline is depressing: the patent application was filed in 2008, the Moom feature shipped in 2011, the patent was granted in 2013, and the complaint was made in 2017.

See also: Hacker News.