Singly joins Appcelerator!

singly-acquisition-newsletter-1

After almost three years helping developers integrate with 3rd party APIs, we are very excited to announce that we’ve been acquired by Appcelerator. We’ve been very impressed with what they have built in the mobile space, their strong dedication to open source, as well as their incredible community of nearly 500,000 developers.

The very best news about this: Singly will only get better as we join Appcelerator. We’ll begin work very soon to integrate Singly AppFabric and DataFabric into the Appcelerator Platform and Titanium. Appcelerator offers tons of great app development tools and mobile backend services (push notifications, analytics, etc) — adding Singly’s API integration management into that will make it even easier to build great mobile apps.

For the next several months, Singly will remain the same: same functionality, same endpoints, same price, same support. As we get closer to full integration, we’ll give you plenty of heads-up and work with you to make the transition simple and seamless.

If you have any questions, please email us at support@singly.com.

Thanks for all of your Singly love and support so far!

APIs are key to Quantified Self

Guest writer Ernesto Ramirez is a co-organizer of the Bay Area Quantified Self Meetup group and will be speaking at our office next week for QS Night.

QS Night at Singly!

At Quantified Self meetups across the world you can listen to amazing stories of self discovery and transformation. Individuals tell their stores of using data to better understand who they are and how they interact with the world around them. Often, those stories center around new devices and tools for collecting data. From physical activity to sleep to geolocation, the amount of data that is being captured, processed, and made available is growing at exponential rates. All of that information is being used by individuals, groups, and institutions to generate knowledge and understanding at what seems like a breakneck speed. This is major progress for QS, but open APIs are crucial.

One of the great things about many of the products that QSers use (and create) is the ability to tap into the data streams through the use of APIs. Access to data is essential for individuals who are asking difficult and new questions. And isn’t that what APIs are all about? Opening up the doors and letting the stream of data free so that people can make use of it. The data we create is incredibly valuable as it is, but it becomes infinitely more valuable when we can analyze across platforms.

Why are APIs so important to those of us engaging in self-tracking and self-experimentation?

The devices and services used to collect data have already determined how they want to present that data to you – and it’s often great, but rarely entirely comprehensive. Maybe they only show you one day at a time, or they group data in a certain way. Whatever the case may be there has probably been a time when you pulled up your favorite self-tracking application and said, “I wish it showed me [fill in the blank]”. Trust me. I’ve been there. Many, many times.

It’s frustrating when you want to get your data out of system because you want to create a different visualization or you want to just poke around a bit to see what kind of interesting stuff you can find. I can’t stress enough how important it is to just to be able to get in and play with your data. Singly employee Beau Gunderson recently gave a talk about this. Here he talks about wanting to analyze the sleep data from his Zeo device in an easy but multifaceted way. By using Zeo’s API and a neat javascript library called crossfilter he was able to do just that!

Beau’s look into multifaceted data is really interesting in another way as it leads towards another fantastic use of APIs within the QS space. Many of the self-experiments that people engage in involve looking into how different data sets are related to each other. Do I sleep better when I go for runs in the morning? How much money do I spend when I check into bars alone or with friends? The more data we have access to the more interesting comparisons we are able to make. In essence, those APIs and their associated data allow the QSer to develop and explore an ever growing world of personal hypotheses.

Even the government is getting in on this game. Do you want to start quantifying your community? Why not look into the recently released US Census API! It’s idealistic, but important, to imagine a future where every data source we interact with has an API that we can access and make use of, and that is when things will get really fun.

As Quantified Selfers, the most important thing we can do is stress the importance of APIs and data freedom.

How APIs should be: Drop in keys, running in 1 minute

Editor’s note: Guest writer Merijn Terheggen is an entrepreneur who is currently working on a platform that provides a collectively reviewed perspective on the world’s information at www.factlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @merijn481.

Shameless plug: Singly’s App Challenge Weekend (read: Hackathon) is coming up June 1-3 with $10,000 for the best app using the platform. Read more at http://singly.com/appchallenge

Singly App Challenge

If you’re a startup providing an API, what makes your API successful?

As a startup offering an API, you know that you’re communicating a product and you have to use a clear and concise message. It needs to be immediately clear for developers how your API solves their problem and how it adds value. Your message is easy to remember and repeat so that happy developers spread the word.

Getting to a minimal viable version of your API means getting traction and adoption. Once users use it, get value from it, and provide feedback (and crap all over it in the process, which is good), something magical happens: the product gets a chance to grow into something beautiful, and your startup expands with it.

In order to get that traction, you need developers to convert from “first contact” to championing your API inside their organization. The typical funnel probably looks like this*:

  • Visit your site after reading about you on HackerNews, Reddit, TechCrunch, etc. (Start with 100%)
  • Understand your product (still 100%, right?)
  • Sign up and configure an account (10% of visitors have a pain you solve)
  • Configure a local environment (2%, depending on how easy it is to get started)
  • Start making API calls and building (1%, this is out of your hands and dependent on developer focus)
  • Happy developer ready to think about making the API a permanent part of her app (<1%, based on if your API actually delivers)

* Numbers chosen by dice roll.

Though 90% of visitors don’t ever sign up, that’s fine – they don’t have (or realize they have) the problem you solve, so they’re not your target. The biggest relevant drop-off exists between signup and making the first API call, and it’s critically important for them to make the call and get proof that your service is valuable. Your API’s ease of bootstrapping is like your site’s time to page load, and if it’s too long, your users will give up and leave. Heroku and Stripe have done a fantastic job minimizing the time it takes to start using their service.

The bottom line is that the single most important step in converting developers to permanently use your API in their product is how easy it is for them to get started after they sign up.

So let’s get into what you can actually do, from a developer’s perspective, to make your API useful in 60 seconds. The key is to get the developer up and running with minimal effort, and there are surprisingly few API’s out there that actually do this.

1. Ensure there are as few dependencies as possible in your package (please don’t make me compile MySQL bindings again) and that everything necessary for the API to run is included. Singly has put together a few skeleton applications that you can clone-and-go, as well as the omniauth-singly gem you can drop into your existing Ruby apps.

2. Make it part of the build process to install the API on a clean image and run all tests on it. Tools like Vagrant, Capistrano, Chef and Puppet are great for creating test infrastructure. As your product grows, your testing infrastructure needs to grow with it and cover any platform it’s used on, but a fresh system should always be able to get going with 1-3 commands.

3. Provide a zero-config sandbox someone can play around in without any commitment. Mongo has a great browser-based console that lets you get to know it without any personal effort. These tools delight, and can even catch developers that would have passed you by but realize while playing that they have a use for you.

Singly is an API company. It provides a simple platform that offers developers the ability to connect their app with many data providers, including Facebook, Twitter, etc. The platform runs on Node.js and developers can get to using personal user data from 9 services (more on the way) in no time at all. I’m really excited about the product and possibilities.


Singly Hacks our API

***Update 3***

May 02, 2012 @ 5:29p

PostFirst is live! Add it to your browser here: http://bit.ly/IVRAiu  If you love it, tweet @postfirst.

No word on the other apps.  More to come pre-demo.

 

***Update 2***

May 02, 2012 @ 4:44p.

PostFirst is almost in the Chrome Store — Kristjan is filling out the form right now.

ShouldertApp has a Launchrock sign-up page running.  http://signup.shouldertapp.me/

Vacat.io has successfully crunched my data and told me that the first time I did anything on Facebook or Twitter was in November 26, 2004.  This information alone makes this my favorite app of the day thus far.

There’s a 6p hardstop to begin demos.

***Update 1***

May 02, 2012 @ 2:33p.  Beau’s project, Vacat.io goes live!

Problem: Beau doesn’t remember or know how much time he spends away from the internet… and he’s a bit worried about it!

Solution:  Build an app that uses your social media check-ins as a proxy for the time or moments that you aren’t on the internet.  If you’re not checking in, tweeting, posting a photo, etc then you might be asleep. The goal is to track this information and use it to inform how much time you should spend away from the glowing screen — that’s right, away.

Follow @needsvacatio to vote for Beau’s app!  Better yet, visit: http://vacat.io/

***Update 0***

May, 02, 2012 @ 10:30a.

The Singly crew officially hit an API deadline.  Our internal hack day.  Today we came to the office, pitched app ideas, and paired off into teams to build them using Singly’s API.  The goal is to identify all of the good, bad, and the uglies of our API.

Expect a full breakdown of what we learned from our Developer Ambassador-in-Chief, Simon Murtha-Smith (github: smurthas, twitter: smurthas), before the end of the week.  In the meantime, here’s a brief overview of the teams and their products — all of them built (quickly and simply) using the Singly API to capture normalized personal data from all over the web.

All of our work today is leading up to a May 10th Friends-of-Singly hack night.  We’re putting our tech to the test with our most talented friends on that night.

TL;DR (Blog taken over by Schutte).

Lindsay (@lschutte) + Kristjan (@kripet) + Kiko the Dog

We’re building a Chrome browser extension called PostFirst.  

Problem: We have a lot of friends.  They share a lot of links from all over the web.  How do we keep from sharing a link that our friends have already shared or seen?

Solution: A little browser extension that combs through your links from across different feeds (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and tells you if the link you’re about to share has already been shared on your network.

Remember how, on the interweb, the entire world likes to say, “First!” Well, this extension ensures that’s true.

Vote for Lindsay, Kristjan, and PostFirst by following us on Twitter @Postfirst!

Austin, Smurthas, + Temas

Meet ShouldertApp

Problem: Stop the madness! And the notifications.  The number of notifications that come through on my phone makes me insane.  I only want to hear from people who aren’t part of my inner-circle.

Solution: Select an inner-circle, the people who you really want to see notifications from, and when they take actions on any network (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), then I find out.  Anything else: nada.

Vote for ShouldertApp by following them @ShouldertApp.  (But, don’t really follow them, because I’m on the @PostFirst team and I don’t want them to win. So, follow me! Me!)

Tyler + Beau

They are both working on their own projects, but aren’t available for updates.  Since they don’t have any business people on their teams, I’m fairly certain they don’t have Twitter accounts and therefore aren’t eligible for voting.

More later. (And vote for @Postfirst!)