17 October 2009

FriendFoo: A Multi Purpose Alter UI Client For FriendFeed

(Disclosure: In the case of this App. I am part of the story since it was made by a friend and i was the Main Tester and Main Consultant in the making of it. Reason why this post also reads more like a Story than a Review)

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FriendFoo in layman terms is a web stack based FriendFeed client with a Alternative User Interface that can be used and accessed in several ways . Alter UI means that it don’t looks anything like FriendFeed in any way or follows its conventions. That is usually the way for many Desktop Apps or Mobile Apps. But not the norm when it comes to web clients or mobile web clients.

But to understand FriendFoo, I need you to bear with me, and let me tell you about what precedes it.

Origin

Rejawoo was the name of the same kind of web client that FriendFoo is and it was made for the now defunct  Rejaw.com. That followed the same model of the also defunct Pownce.com and the very new Simler.com. A Social Messaging model in the reigns of TRUE  Microblogging. Sorry if it sounds Buzzword-filled and convoluted, but so are the ways of the current times now.

Another important characteristic about Rejaw is that it was the first Social Messaging Network in Real-Time. FriendFeed did it almost half a year after Rejaw. But in my opinion FriendFeed execution is inferior to the one that Rejaw had.

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(Go here if you want to see a archived live page of Rejaw.com. It shows the very last moments of the site before it got shutdown, in the longest thread ever in social messaging history so far or that i know of )

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The app was made by YungSang (A japanese developer who i consider my friend and who i met at Rejaw) and was designed with the iphone and ipod touch in mind at first. He made it because considered that given the nature of Rejaw. A Browser was better suited to sustain the kind of speed that the App needed to have compared to a native app and it also would be a lot easier to maintain and make. So while there was a official Rejaw App for the iphone/ipod touch, It was not fast enough to make the experience equal to the one you had in a desktop browser.

Rejawoo also happened to exceed the features in the actual site.

Rejaw.com Dies, Rejawoo Becomes FriendFoo

With the death of Rejaw (May 31 2008). Many of the most loyal to the site (including me) were looking for something to replace Rejaw. The options were slim: You had Twitter (the obvious choice), Jaiku (That even then was already a zombie), Identi.ca (That was never considered even for a minute), Plurk (That while i like, most don’t because of its unique quirkiness  ) and FriendFeed.

I personally asked YungSang if he would remake Rejawoo for Plurk. He denied because he was not fond of Plurk and because Plurk had no Official API (Problem that to the day persist, even if Plurk is bigger than FriendFeed). But he told me “I am thinking in FriendFeed”. I was not enthusiast to the idea because i always found FriendFeed to be noisy and a bit annoying because of the lack of proper Management Controls.

Barely two weeks later he found me at Plurk and told me “Want you to try something”.

He had the app and it was for FriendFeed.  The look was all white with a friendfeed logo just like the site. “Cool, even if it is plain as hell, don’t like the look” I said to him. He only mused (as in “hmmm”) and a day later he showed it me again sporting the Rejawoo Rejaw-based look. “Now, THAT is a lot better for sure”, He considered it was fitting as a Rejaw Homage and off he went to set it up.

The Name

Originally the app was named by YungSang and i don’t remember what the name was. But rest assured that it sucked since i forgot it. So i suggested FriendFoo. YungSang didn’t liked at first because he thought i was just making up words for the sake of making it sound like Rejawoo. I wasn’t.

Merely a happy coincidence or the fact that there are many words ending with “oo”. So it made a little bit of sense and the name rolled well out of the tongue and mind, so it stuck.

The App In Question

FriendFeed Sign In

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                                     (It starts a oAuth call)

oAuth Application Sign In Call

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(FriendFoo in its version 2 uses the oAuth capable version of the FriendFeed API )

Start Sequence

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Home Stream

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(FriendFoo will notify you of new incoming notes as they arrive, while you scan through)

Stream Controls

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(At the end of a Stream, you got controls to load another batch of notes into the stream and to mark all notes as read in case you want it, so they don’t no longer get counted)

Posting Form

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(You can direct your post to the general stream or to a specific channel stream)

Filter Form

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(You can do advances search to locate anything in FriendFeed by List, by Group or Directly by command. It also show you all the available commands and how to use them)

Thread View

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(Unlike in FriendFeed site, you can see a note replies in its own stream as in a thread view as if you were in a Forum or in the page of a Blog post entry)

Media Handling

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(Just like in FriendFeed it will embed Photos, Maps, Videos, MP3 Audio Tracks )

Note Controls

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(when you click on a note surface, it will show the controls for that note. You will then be able to Like, Hide or Translate your note. This last option is exclusive to FriendFoo and will translate any note in a foreign language via Google Translate to the Native language it detects from your Browser)

Other FriendFoo Specific Note Elements, Features And Specifics

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(1.-The “i” is a link to go to the FriendFoo App FriendFeed Group Page

2.-The little signal sign icon is to show if FriendFeed API is UP

3.-The little heart icon represents a FriendFeed like, if you hover the  icon, it will show you who did the like in the note.

4.-The “(expand)” Link is a action button to preview any shorted url

5.-The Image you see it not from Flickr, it is a linked image as FriendFoo will embed any linked Image or even some MP3 Audio and video links not supported by FriendFeed

6.-The emoticon is from the built in Emoji support in FriendFoo

You can see how the same note looks in the FriendFeed site and truly see how better the FriendFoo experience is compared to the standard one

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The only features not built in FriendFoo are Edit and Share)

Use Scenarios

Mobile

While It was designed for the iPhone/iPod Touch, It can be used in any modern smartphone OS browser. So it will work in Android, Windows Mobile, Nokia Symbian (N96-97) or Nokia Maemo Device.

Desktop

In Browser

Since it s a Web Stack Based Client, That still means it is a website so you can see it in your browser without a problem

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As a SSB

This is were things get most interesting as you can use in 3 Windows SSB Apps:

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(Using Bubbles With Bubbles-Script)

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                               (Using Bubbles with Growl for Windows)

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                                             (Using Mozilla Prism)

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                                         (Chrome or Iron QAL Mode)

You got several notification options with FriendFoo. If you use Bubbles, you only need to load FriendFoo from its Bubble-Script Link version as Bubbles got notifications support built right in, But can also choose to use Growl For Windows or the official FriendFeed Notifier App . If you are using Mozilla Prism you can use Growl for Windows or FriendFeed Notifier App. The same two options apply if you are using Chrome or Iron QAL (Quick Launch Application) Mode that is in essence a SSB mode too.

Final Notes

As you see, FriendFoo is a great App you can use as a option to the regular FriendFeed site. Be it you are in your Mobile, Netbook or Desktop. You also have more than one option if you want to integrate into your desktop as a SSB and more than one option to provide yourself with Notifications and System Tray Support for a full desktop integrated experience.

So i hope you enjoy the app and that you get to use it if you are currently a FriendFeed user or wanted to try it out FriendFeed. But you are put off by the site and look. So use FriendFoo for a better experience for it and with luck you will come to like it.

Resources

FriendFeed FriendFoo App Page

FriendFoo <--- Direct Link

FriendFoo With Bubbles-Script <--- Bubbles Must Be Already Installed

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YungSang Blog

*Update* (22/02/2010): Edited the entry and updated some info about it.



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