Bookmarklets: no-brainer integration of WaterOnMars on Android

bookmarkletWaterOnMars 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 !

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WaterOnMars now runs on Bootstrap3

wom-logo-128When I started developing WaterOnMars, the fashionable toolkit for web GUI work was the version 2 of Twitter Bootstrap. Of course, by the time my project reached a truly usable state, the version 3 of bootstrap was released and the version 2 stopped being maintained. Another example of the perpetual obsolescence developers have had to face since the dawn of time (e.g the 70′s).

Version 3′s major feature being its first class support for mobile platform and my main usage of WaterOnMars being via a tablet, migrating was really tempting but I had no idea how much work I’d have to put into it.

I did it a few weeks a go though and the good news was that it’s been much much easier that I thought.

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fabric: a good assistant for the development of WaterOnMars

wom-logo-128Despite spending currently more time using my WaterOnMars feed reader than developing it, I’m still making small improvements to it. And to make my life easier I could count on a solid little project: fabric !

fabric is a Python based command-line utility designed to help running commands remotely: typically to deploy a web app on a remote server.

So I’m using it to deploy WaterOnMars on my personal server and also to deploy the demo version on heroku. But more recently I added fabric’s configuration file (the “fabfile”) to the sources of the project as an officially maintained helper for development tasks1. It’s now usable to run the test suite, to launch the web app locally, to set-up the db and to deploy it on custom servers.

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  1. well I didn’t think of it in such a formal way obviously []

Living with WaterOnMars

I’ve been using wateronmars on a daily basis for approx. 3 weeks now and here are my first impressions:

  • Christmas time is the worst possible time period when to test a news reader (most of the feeds I’m subscribed to where on a break then)
  • considering a beta test period before bragging about one’s software is a must (the last two big shameful bugs were detected and corrected during the first week)
  • it’s really great to use a news reader again ! (I stopped trying other readers after the shutdown of Google reader)

WaterOnMarsMobileApart from that wateronmars has improved a little with some bug fixing and some speed optimization but most of all I’ve added a new way to display the sieve that is specific to mobile devices. It can be seen on the demo site (and even without a mobile device by selecting the “carousel” view).

By customizing a little Twitter Bootstrap‘s carousel  and pluging in the TouchSwipe-Jquery-Plugin library it was relatively easy to handle a”(touch) swipe”.

So we can now go through the news as with a pysical newspaper, and it’s become my main way to use wateronmars :)

New Year’s Python Meme

Following the recent and timely revival of Tarek Ziadé’s New Year’s Python Meme by Alex Clark and Daniel Greenfeld, and also to mark the addition of this blog to the Python planet, here is my version of the meme for 2013.

What’s the coolest Python application, framework or library you discovered this year?

After having heard a lot about them, this year I had the occasion to actually use the following tools:

Even if it isn’t a discovery strictly speaking, I was also glad to find out that someone took over the maintenance of feedfinder.

And last but not least I recently used PhotoFloat a very promising project to generate photo galleries, especially because like the author of this library I think zenphoto has somehow lost its zen.

What new programming technique did you learn this year?

A few months ago I gave a quick try at TDD with my toy project baciphacs.

But most importantly 2013 was the year when I dived into web application development with my long term personal project wateronmars.

Which open source project did you contribute to the most this year? What did you do?

Quite selfishly the two open source projects I contributed the most were mine:

  • wateronmars (AGPL) went from its year long state of blue prints and prototype code snippets to a fully functional web application deployable by anybody interested and with a demo site on heroku. Oh and by the way it’s yet another news reader with the ambition to merge news reading and bookmark collection into a single workflow to become ultimately a personal web-surfing platform.
  • yapsy (BSD) the Python plugin system with a couple of bug fixes and especially the last fix to the packaging of both the Python2 and 3 sources of this library.

By the way, I’m always welcoming contributions and contributors for these projects :)

Which Python blogs, websites, or mailing lists did you read the most this year?

What are the top three things you want to learn next year?

  • The 11th color of C++ for which I already know the big picture but I lack the practical knowledge
  • Machine Learning (at least a bit more than the practical experience I had in my previous job in a document analysis and text recognition company).
  • Holger Dansk’s language, how to wake him up and collaborate with him (and in case you missed it a new edition of Peopleware was published in 2013).

What is the top software, application or library you wish someone would write next year?

Huh… This year I’ve seen so many good apps and libraries doing exactly what I needed to (in Python and in javascript especially), that I’m not sure what’s THE missing thing right now.

I guess anything that would make it easy for me to recover stuff (adress books, pictures), from the silos of the big social sites would help.

But to be honest all my wishes currently go to wateronmars that could still be extended with functionalities like a pump (as in pump.io) or a way to mix result from famous search engines with one’s bookmark collection and more generally with anything already listed on the development site.