Wateronmars — my news reader and bookmark saving web app — has recently got some new features: every items (feed sources and bookmarks) can now be easily edited and removed.
Not too soon, right ? I’ve actually been using it since a little more than 1 year to consume my feeds and store some links and the need to edit a bookmark title or to un-subscribe from some feed wasn’t a big urge, but eventually became big enough to motivate to add the missing forms and bit of REST API.
This was also the occasion to clean a little more some of the pages, which, in turn, is a just a prelude of the next big feature to come: internationalization (more on that later).
The result has a certain feeling of completeness and can be seen on the demo site on heroku and in the sources on github.
WaterOnMars provides bookmarklets to do basic actions like subscribing to an RSS feed or to bookmark a web page.
Bookmarklets are very handy and they work pretty well with desktop browsers, but mobile browsers hardly support them. Unfortunately, since a few months I’ve been browsing the net and reading news on WaterOnMars almost exclusively from my (Android) tablet.
A common solution to get similar functionality as bookmarklets on mobile platform is to develop Android-specific applications.
However I did find an alternative solution, which may not be 100% user friendly, but remains quite handy: the Bookmarklet Free app !
With wateronmars I’m obviously not claiming to have done anything original, but the idea of this project started about 2 years ago when I realized that news readers were my main window over the Internet (and not facebook nor google+ mind you) and that my bookmarks, that I would expect to be a solid basis for any kind of search over the Internet, were uselessly being stored and forgotten in delicious.
At that time I was reading Dave Winer’s blog posts about news and rivers and trying duckduckgo search engine in the hope that it would eventually offer better and more customized ways to search for information (I even proposed went as far as proposing that to duckduckgo team).
Eventually all this got me somewhat inspired and I decided that taking control of my “window to the web” was a very worthy motive to get my hands in the world of web apps developments.
This is a Python project based on django and which uses extensively Twitter Bootstrap, mousetrap.js and infinite scroll for its graphical components and UX, and south to ease future database migrations. Also the heroku platform was of a great help to experiment with the web apps as I was building it.
I must say that I’m pretty surprised of how much great (by their quality and ease of use) libraries and services are available to build web apps this days. It almost seems to be a more mature ecosystem than the one of the scientific and multimedia workhorse libraries I’m used too.
As a conclusion, let me just say that I would very happily welcome contributors to this project, so feel free to fork it on github !
Today, I’m officially releasing a personal project called wateronmars, a web app combining a news reader and a bookmark collection.
So this is just another news reader but this ones aims at being a free (as in freedom) platform from which users can explore the web.
A demo site is hosted on heroku: http://wateronmars-demo.herokuapp.com/
For now this web application focuses on offering a lean interface based on a very simple workflow:
- Take a glimpse at the news: a river views displays the latest news
- Dig in when time allows: a sieve (some would say a mailbox-like) view makes it easy to look at and filter out the news
- Take notes: a “collection” gathers all web pages that the user wants to keep the link to
- Subscribe to news sources: a “sources” page gathers all the web pages from which the user wants to see the news as they come
The source code (under Affero GPL) is available on github.
Although they make up a working and usable (IMHO) application I consider them as the building blocks for a slightly more ambitious web exploration platform.
PS: If you came here looking for actual water on the planet mars, all apologies and feel free to go on wikipedia.