Q:It would be awesome if reeder 2 would intergrate velocity directly instead of copying the url or using pocket!
Velocity URL Scheme
Our new speed reading app, Velocity, has a couple of awesome features for advanced users that we’ll highlight over the coming days. One of them is the app’s URL scheme. A URL scheme is a way to launch and perform actions in an app simply by typing in a URL or clicking a link in a browser. It’s also how apps on your device communicate with one another. If you’re interested in playing with it, you can already use the URL scheme from Launch Center Pro.
If you’re a developer, we’d love it if you added “Read in Velocity” support in your app, and we’d be happy to help make that easier. Email us at email@example.com if you have any questions, comments, or complaints. And feel free to let us know if you would like us to add more features to the URL scheme.
Here’s how the URL scheme for Velocity works:
- Opens the app
These URLs will immediately read the text or the content of the URL provided.
- Reads the text: “Text goes here” in Velocity.
- Reads the text at the given URL in Velocity.
These URLs will save the text or the content of the URL provided for later reading. They will be saved into the user’s local source (e.g. iPhone).
- Saves the text: “Text goes here” to the local source in Velocity.
- Saves the text at the given URL to the local source in Velocity.
These URLs will save the text or the content of the URL provided for later reading and then allow the user to immediately edit the text. They will be saved into the user’s local source (e.g. iPhone).
- Saves the text: “Text goes here” to the local source in Velocity and then displays an editing view.
- Saves the text at the given URL to the local source in Velocity and then displays an editing view.
If you’re a developer, we look forward to seeing some of the awesome stuff you make with our URL scheme. If not, is there an app you’d like to see Velocity support?
Q:Hi! I was wondering if you were going to add support for Readability in Velocity? I know the app has just launched, but the lack thereof is kind of a dealbreaker.
Hey! Thanks for asking. A lot of people have asked for Readability support, so we’re looking into it now. If it’s fairly easy to integrate with Readability, I don’t see why we wouldn’t want to add it to Velocity.
But let’s ask you guys. Should Velocity support Readability as a source?
“Why Doesn’t Quotebook Use Dropbox?”
A few of our most-asked syncing related support questions are:
- Why is Quotebook different than other iCloud apps?
- What are we doing to fix syncing?
- Why not Dropbox?
In today’s blog post, we’d like to shed a little light on these topics. Later we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of how Quotebook syncing works, but for now we’re going to focus on these three queries. Let’s divide them up to keep it simple.
Why is Quotebook different?
The simple answer is that Quotebook uses a different system than other apps. The long answer is that iCloud apps work using one of three technologies:
- Key-Value Data
- Documents in iCloud
- Core Data
We don’t use Key-Value syncing because it’s designed for limited amounts of data that doesn’t need to change very often. It’s great for things like Settings or User Preferences, but it doesn’t work for Quotebook – and it has no conflict resolution.
Documents in iCloud work in a similar way to Dropbox. It also isn’t the right fit for Quotebook because it’s designed for something like Microsoft Word, wherein you open one of multiple documents, work on it, and close it before continuing on with another. Many apps our users use in addition to Quotebook operate using this method, and while it’s a good one, it doesn’t handle databases.
Quotebook uses Core Data. It stores information as a database (which we need) and has automatic conflict resolution. This works perfectly for us because our app uses a ton of information often spread across multiple devices.
- For more information on Key-Value Data, read the article here.
- For more about Core Data, read here.
- For more on Documents in iCloud, read here.
What are we doing to fix syncing?
When we spoke to Apple at the World Wide Developers Conference, they told us that they would have many of our syncing problems fixed in iOS7. That comes out in the fall, and if all goes well it’ll fix a lot of the issues people have been having loading their quotes from iCloud.
A couple of things that will improve the syncing issues some of you have been having are that they’ve given us better debugging tools – Gauges are a good example. Gauges will let us see how much usage is in an iCloud account and what is uploaded/downloaded so that we can see the problems in development rather than guessing at them. It’s proactive instead of reactive debugging, and it should make everything move much more smoothly.
Luckily iOS7 is only a few months away, but while we wait for these new tools all we can ask for is your patience. In the meantime, you can watch the keynote from WWDC here.
Why not Dropbox?
We understand that Dropbox is really useful for a lot of our users, and we think it’s a great piece of technology. Unfortunately, it’s set up in a way that doesn’t work well with Quotebook.
The main issue with Dropbox is that it doesn’t handle databases that need concurrent access – like Quotebook, for example. Concurrent access is essentially multiple devices writing and reading data at the same time, like if you had Quotebook on your iPhone as well as an iPad.
With Dropbox, the most recent update to your database of quotes will overwrite any others. For example, if you had both your iPhone and your iPad offline and added quotes to each, then only the quotes from the latest device you updated will show up when you reconnect both devices. That could mean people losing quotes forever, and that’s not something we want to happen.
By using iCloud and Core Data, we make sure that all of your changes from any devices are logged and marked at the same time. It’s a lot more efficient, and it keeps anyone from losing data. While syncing might currently be taking a while, as mentioned we hope to have that fixed soon.
Thank you for your patience with us, and we hope these explanations help you better understand the inner workings of Quotebook!
If you’ve got any more questions for us, feel free to get in touch:
Customer Support by Bryarly
Hey, everybody! You may (or may not) have noticed a slight change in our customer support lately. Up until a few months ago, Brian, Andrew and Matt (the developers at Lickability) did all of the support. But they decided that they needed someone else to take over so they could have more time to work on their awesome apps.
That’s where I come in.
If you haven’t had a need to email Quotebook Support - and we hope you haven’t - then you may not have spoken to me yet. My name is Bryarly Bishop, and I’ve been heading the Customer Support charge at Lickability since February. We decided it would be a good idea for me to introduce myself so, should you ever have any problems, you have a better idea of who you’re talking to!
Providing support for Quotebook is not my only job. Most of what I do involves making videos on YouTube, which you can watch here. They’re usually video blogs, sketches, or songs, but they’re all fun to make and I’ve been enjoying their creation for about two years now. My slightly more professional work is editing audio and video for online and physical distribution for a dental marketing company. On a more personal note I love to read, and I have an ambition to one day hike the Appalachian Trail.
While these kinds of factoids are fun, I’d like to assure you that your technology questions are in good hands. I worked as a technology consultant at my university’s library on Apple, Windows, and Linux computers/devices, and I now spend entirely too much time on my various Apple products. If there’s anything I can’t help you with, I will always find the answer for you within a week.
Thank you so much for using and enjoying Quotebook.
If you find you ever do need help, you can contact us here:
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to helping you whenever you need it!
Quotebook 2.0 API and URL Scheme
You may already know that in Quotebook 2.0, we added the ability to launch Quotebook from apps like Instapaper, Drafts, and Launch Center Pro. The way that works is through a “custom URL scheme” which just means that we register to handle any links that start with
Here’s the kinds of links we handle and how they work. We’d love it if you added “Add to Quotebook” support in your app, and we’d love to help make that easier. Email us at email@example.com if you have any questions, comments, or complaints.
- quotebook:// — Opens the app
- quotebook://quotes — Goes to the Quotes Tab
- quotebook://authors — Goes to the Authors Tab
- quotebook://sources — Goes to the Sources Tab
- quotebook://tags — Goes to the Tags tab
- Adds a quote “Stay Hungry. Stay foolish.” to the user’s Quotebook with the author Steve Jobs, the source Whole Earth Catalog with a rating of 5 stars.
- All of these parameters are optional except for quote which is required. Any unused or blank parameter need not be included.
ratingmust be between 0 and 5.
sourcemay be names, twitter usernames prefixed by an @, or URLs.
Quotebook 2.0 is out and it is a huge update to what is assuredly one of my favorite apps on any platform. I use it daily and have been beta testing this version for months now. I’d say the big rocks to mention are the iPad and iCloud support. In fact, Quotebook on the iPad is just plain, downright, sexy. As someone who loves quotes and has for a long time, this is indispensable and the update only makes it more so.
To all of you that helped test this gargantuan release. Buy it now, because you can’t live without this much awesome.
Lessons from Broadway
Quotebook isn’t our first app. In fact, it isn’t even the first app we released.
Rewind two years. In the summer of 2009, we started working on an app idea that had never been done before. Our first app, Broadway, would be a show times application for theatergoers who wanted to quickly find theatre and ticket information about current and upcoming shows from their iPhone or iPod Touch as well as purchase tickets on the go. It would be the Fandango of the New York theatre scene. The only problem? We had no idea where to get that information.
After weeks of searching for any public database or API to access Broadway show time information, we finally stumbled upon a publicly accessible, albeit hidden, RSS feed from TheaterMania.com. Thanks to Evan Doll and Stanford’s freely available CS193P class, we learned Apple’s tools and built our first iOS app, before it was even called iOS.
Little Kids, Big City
Then came the fun part. After we finished developing Broadway, an app that we were using and loving for weeks, we knew we desperately needed to find a partner for our content. After submitting what we had to Apple in order to secure the name “Broadway” in the App Store, we knew it was time to contact some Broadway companies. Of course, TheaterMania was at the top of our list. Our app was already engineered entirely with their data in mind, so it would be a painless process to work with them. Or so we thought.
Soon after, we saddled up and contacted a host of different Broadway companies. Soon, the meeting requests started pouring in, as every company seemed to want an iPhone app. A trip to New York City and a bunch of meetings later, we were feeling pretty confident about an acquisition.
The discussions with TheaterMania were especially exciting. They took a lot more notes and asked a lot more questions than we expected. Fresh out of our senior year of high school, we were inexperienced and unwittingly indulged their probing curiosity. After demoing the app in depth, they told us to see what other offers we could drum up. They explained that they were a small, privately held company, and that a web app was probably all they needed, but that as soon as they needed an iPhone app they’d give us a call.
Lesson 1: Compliments Aren’t Contracts
That call never came. After the initial flurry of interest, all the other companies slowly backed out one-by-one. For Broadway.com, it was their proprietary ticketing system. For Playbill, it was their dead tree business model. For Telecharge, it was their new website (with 3D modeling), which still hasn’t launched. For TheaterMania, it was the cost. After Darren Sussman and Gretchen Shugart spent hours telling us how impressed they were with our work, they disappeared. We thought our luck had run out, so we simply put the project on hold.
When TheaterMania released their app on the App Store, we were blindsided. We had no idea that they had changed their minds. We downloaded the app and to our dismay, had strong case of déjà vu. They had copied interface elements and ideas wholesale from the document and demos we provided them. But, we were the ones without a contract, without a clue, without any legal recourse whatsoever. Even though we shared no source code with TheaterMania (although they did ask), they had managed to [badly] emulate our ideas.
With our app idea “borrowed”, no content partner, and little hope, we walked away from iPhone development.
Lesson 2: Constant Vigilance
Like all college freshman, we got busy. Not like that. Well, not as much as we would have liked. We didn’t forget about Broadway, but we did forget about its App Store approval. Having initially set the app to be released in the distant future, we failed to notice that the future had actually arrived…Oh shit. Unfortunately, TheaterMania had noticed.
The feed that TheaterMania’s CMS automatically generated with all of the Broadway show information, was suddenly, curiously gone and so too was all of the usefulness of Broadway. After thousands of downloads and some nasty reviews, we finally realized our mistake. Needless to say, Broadway is no longer available on the App Store.
Lesson 3: Keep Moving Forward
We learned a hell of a lot making Broadway, and when we stumbled across the idea for Quotebook, we knew we could do it again. It might seem trite, but there is something to that famous quote: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” (That’s going in my Quotebook). Quotebook’s success and all of your kind emails, tweets, and reviews have reminded us to keep moving forward. We can’t wait to show you what we’re working on next.
We’d love to resurrect Broadway, but the data still isn’t public. If you have the contacts or resources to help us make Broadway a reality, say firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s an old video if you’re interested: