Thoughts about App.net

I’m sure you have heard of App.net by now. The paid, non-advertisement-supported “live social stream” (read: Twitter). They set a $500,000 goal, and raised more than $800,000 – a clear indicator that some level of demand is there for such a service.

There are two levels of membership, the $50 “User” level and the $100 “Developer” level. A developer account will give you the necessary API keys to build apps that connect to App.net. I was very interested in how these prices were chosen, and thankfully App.net published their logic (“How did you come up with the pricing tiers?” in the FAQ).

I agree with Marco Arment that $50 a year is too expensive for regular users, but he didn’t have anything to say about the developer tier. Here’s an excerpt from the FAQ that irks me:

The developer price is inspired by the amount charged by the Apple Developer Program, $99. We think this demonstrates that developers are willing to pay for access to a high quality development platform.

The decision using the Apple iOS Developer Program as inspiration for the App.net developer tier is, I believe, fundamentally flawed – there are too many differences and not enough parallels:

  • The iOS Developer Program includes hosting of your app.
  • The iOS Developer Program introduces your app to all iOS users
  • Et cetera..

For App.net to convincingly (using their present argument) charge $99 for their developer tier, I believe that the following services are necessary:

  • A central repository of App.net-enabled apps (this looks like a beta)
  • A much larger user base – there were approximately 8,000 “User” tier backers. At $1.99 (revenue of $1.40) of 20% of these users, you can expect $2,240 of gross income. With over 2,000 registered developer accounts, 20% is extremely optimistic.

Of course, if you believe that App.net will balloon, the developer tier is moderately priced. Otherwise, it’s just another lucrative investment.

(Yes, I did back App.net)

Becoming a better PHP developer

There’s no denying that PHP is not the optimal language. But at least code in good PHP. Here’s my pet peeve for the day:

Relative paths in include(_once)? or require(_once)? statements.

// WRONG
require_once("./include_me.php");
// RIGHT
require_once(dirname(__FILE__) . "/include_me.php");

Why? Basically, performance. PHP doesn’t look through all its search paths for absolute paths, saving those precious system calls. This effect is compounded when you’re using the APC cache with apc.stat = 0 (it won’t even cache files that are referred to with a relative path)

text-rendering: optimizeLegibility;

Basically, do not use text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; with Japanese. At least, not yet. Why not? Here are some examples.

The top line has text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; applied, and the bottom line use the browser defaults. As you can probably tell, optimizeLegibility has indeed optimized the legibility, and the type looks much nicer. However, there is a fatal bug in rendering Japanese characters with optimizeLegibility: It seems that the actual optimization is taking place after the length of the line is calculated. As you can imagine, this is a problem. Here’s a screenshot with an underline applied:

Because length-of-line calculations are used to determine line breaks, this bug will also make your sentences break in weird places.

Screenshots taken with Chrome 21 on Mac OS X 10.8. I was able to reproduce this in all WebKit browsers.

Font Smoothing

This is what text (more or less) looks like in Windows! Just do:

“`css
* {
-webkit-font-smoothing: none;
}
“`

To enable Windows Emulation mode. Great stuff.

There’s a few resources about -webkit-font-smoothing in English, but I was wondering what it would look like in Japanese. Here we go.

none;

おはようございます。僕の名前は敬太郎です。東京にうまれ、アメリカのメイン州育ちです。大学は国際基督教大学、3年間の後で退学しました。今は、東京武蔵野市の吉祥寺に住んでて、Flagship LLCでエンジニア・プログラマーとして働いています。よろしくお願いします。

subpixel-antialiased;

おはようございます。僕の名前は敬太郎です。東京にうまれ、アメリカのメイン州育ちです。大学は国際基督教大学、3年間の後で退学しました。今は、東京武蔵野市の吉祥寺に住んでて、Flagship LLCでエンジニア・プログラマーとして働いています。よろしくお願いします。

antialiased;

おはようございます。僕の名前は敬太郎です。東京にうまれ、アメリカのメイン州育ちです。大学は国際基督教大学、3年間の後で退学しました。今は、東京武蔵野市の吉祥寺に住んでて、Flagship LLCでエンジニア・プログラマーとして働いています。よろしくお願いします。
 

Source: Max Voltar

Retina, Please!

A few days ago, I posted a small JavaScript snippet.

Retina, Please! is that JavaScript snippet on steroids. It is a combination of JavaScript and PHP to allow your Retina users to only download Retina images, while non-Retina users only download the standard-resolution version.

Check it out: https://github.com/keichan34/KKRetinaPlease

WordPress Theme Writers: just require it in your functions.php. I may package it into a real plugin later on.

I’ve tested it with CakePHP as well.

Varnish: Debrief

Today, we just released the Varnish-ed site I posted about a few days ago. A few things to be careful about in your Varnish deployment (that I had originally overlooked):

  • Make sure you’re 301 redirecting traffic to your canonical name (http://www.example.com/example to http://example.com/example, or vice versa)
  • Do this redirecting within Varnish! I had strange problems when applying this logic within Apache.
  • If you insist on applying the redirection logic within Apache, you may run into a problem where the Varnish health-check “probes” will fail (and deem your backend “sick”, throwing 503 errors at everyone after the grace period has expired).

Retina

Been wondering how to simply retina-ize your website? Put this at the end of your site:

$(function() {
  try {
  if (window.matchMedia('(-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (min-device-pixel-ratio: 2)').matches) {
    $('.autoRetina').each(function(i, e) {
      var orig_src = $(e).attr('src');
      var new_src = orig_src.replace(/^(.*?).(png|jpe?g|gif)$/i, '$1@2x.$2');
      $(e).attr('src', new_src);
    });
  }
  } catch (e) {}
});

If you’re on a Retina-equipped device, your images with the autoRetina class will automatically be replaced with their Retina counterparts. If you’re familiar with iOS development, you’ll feel right at home. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, just append @2x at the end of the filename (before the extension).

If you want to apply it to all your images (do this only if you have Retina images for all of them!), replace $('.autoRetina').each( with $('img').each(

Caveat emptor: uses jQuery. Don’t judge.