Issue 135

Lori M Olson Lori M Olson Follow Jul 12, 2023 · 8 mins read
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DRD135: One hundred million Threads users can't be wrong, can they?

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“Orange Blue and White Textile” by Stephane Gagnon on Unsplash.

OPED — Lori’s Unvarnished Opinion

What the Threads Launch Did Right (and You Can Too)

Okay, let’s talk about Threads. If you’re not big into social media, this is Meta’s new Twitter competitor. And let’s not look at Threads from the point of view of all the developers who are pointing out the many so-called ‘flaws’. Let’s talk about Threads from the point of view of … what makes for a successful app launch.

First up, make your app easy to use. If you think I harp on this too much, let’s just look at the app/service take-up of Mastodon vs Threads. Mastodon struggled for years to reach one million active users. Threads reached that in hours. Of course, Threads had the benefit of a massive soft-sell advance ad campaign simultaneous with yet another Twitter meltdown. But still, Threads made it perfectly simple to sign up. Use your Instagram account. BAM … done!

As has been noticed by many, your Threads ‘account’ is tied to your Instagram (IG) account, and you can’t delete one without the other disappearing as well. This is being heavily trolled as a flaw. I see it has a huge success for Meta and Threads. It would have been a herculean endeavour for a new service to build and scale an entire new backend user account system. Meta chose not to do that for Threads. Outside the EU at least, having the ability to delete your Threads account is an unneccesary app launch feature. It is undoubtedly on Meta’s backlog. But the success of this strategy speaks for itself.

They also left out hashtags. Argh, how could they do that?!? What about discoverability and engagement? Meta had an answer for that as well. As long as they were using the IG user account system, why not create shadow Threads accounts for all the IG accounts, so that the people and brands you know and love on IG just magically appear in your follows when they join? Genius. Again, they re-use the follow system from IG instead of building an entirely new service, speeding development and delivery. And encouraging more and more engagement. Again, success.

What else did they leave out? The highly touted—and controversial—ActivityPub integration that will make Threads integrate into the Mastodon/ActivityPub ecosystem. Why leave this out? Scale. Not on Meta’s part. They pretty much have a lock on scale. But if they dump many millions of new Threads users into the ActivityPub stream, without figuring out how all those Mastodon servers can handle the load, their integration will be a big fat failure. So, that one is still on the backlog as well.

Anyway, I’m not interested in getting into arguments about why we should or should not let Meta come and play in the ActivityPub world. They will do it. I’m also not interested in the declarations of people who think Meta should be outright banned. The operators of Mastodon services who choose—or choose not—to censor are perfectly within their rights to make that choice. The people using those servers will choose to stay or migrate to a new server or leave Mastodon/ActivityPub completely.

None of that means anything to the successful launch of Threads. It’s going to be interesting to see what Meta does with it next.

And, yes, I have a Threads/IG account. That said, I’m not doing much with it. Yet.

App Prototyping Webinar Replay

The App Prototyping webinar this past Monday was a success, with both developers and entrepreneurs learning the hows and whys of creating and testing app prototypes. I doubt I’ll be offering this for free again, so if you want access to the replay, hit reply and let me know. Next month I’ll be offering a new, different free webinar. 😉

APP — All Things App

Here’s a pro tip from Paul Haddad which is truly a sign o’ the times: pre-emptively build in an ‘oh crap’ 💩 screen in the event that events outside your control force you to, y’know, abandon your entire business concept. To wit, Apollo for Reddit being torpedoed by Reddit’s recent policy changes on third-party apps. Be comforted by the fact your users will like and respect you as you turn off the lights for the last time.

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TALK — Talk of the Tech

Here are this issue’s selections from the two main RubyMotion/DRGTK chat spaces:

  • </a>Slack — Been to your local Piggly Wiggly or Tesco lately? Did you see all the signs that told you what the prices are going to be next week so you at least have an opportunity to plan for them? Oh, right, there aren’t any. As nice as that would be, grocery stores will have to take a page out of the DRGTK’s playbook: the prices are rising, yes, but here’s lot of notice so you can plan—and lock in your pricing!—accordingly. Not to mention all those new features in V5.0/5.1!

  • Discord — As opposed to obsessing over every little itty bitty detail in your game before unleashing it on an unwitting public, consider getting something out the door that’s—candidly and no offense intended—a little half-baked. You may be very pleasantly surprised at the course correcting feedback you receive and which will save you a ton of time on features you may have to throw away anyway. A good example is the Epicycles game from Matt Mayfield. Turns out that the initial iteration was more hard/frustrating than fun, which precipitated a substantial change in direction as illustrated in this recent discussion.

If you haven’t done so already, you really ought to give one or both of these fora a try—and they’re absolutely free.

TWIL — This Week I Learned …

For many years it seemed as though we were inching toward concensus that using UUID keys in PostgreSQL databases was the way to go. Not so fast, as we learned in this recent toot 💨 from Hacker News.

GAME — All Things Gaming

When we take a retrospective look at which DRD stories really strike a chord with readers, it’s seems it’s most often when we feature something related to the good old days of lo-res arcade games. There seems to be an insatiable demand for everything 80s—often by those who didn’t actually have to live through them. 😱

Anywho … we just about spit-taked our double decaf cappuccino when we stumbled across Microarcade’s build-your-own nano-sized arcade machine Road Trip Edition. Learn to solder, learn to code in C++ and end the ‘are we there yet?’ blues in one simple purchase!

SPOT — Spotlight On …

We have a couple of things in the spotlight this issue: first and speaking of the popularity of lo-res, 80s-style gaming (see Microarcade, immediately above), we’re happy to spotlight this great Galaga-like game from Autistmouse: DR Space Invasion written using the DRGTK, of course. She warns the browser version runs a little slow at the moment, but you’ll definitely get the idea.

Also, a little less fun but no less impressive is S3 Files from Anders Borum. It greatly simplifies accessing AWS’s S3 by enabling storage bucket contents to be managed directly with Files and Finder on macOS, iPhone and iPad. Cool!

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HAHA — And They All Laughed

What case do you use in your code?

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“Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.” — Richard P. Feynman