Future of Webapps > Joshua Schachter > Delicious – Things we’ve learned


Opening session from Carson Workshops the reason for the event is that lots of cool stuff comes out of Silicon Valley and they want that to happen here in the UK, hence brought in lots of people that have made sucessful services to speak to us
First up Joshua Schachter – del.icio.us
Carson wanted a “why your webapp needs tagging” but he doesnt want to do that, instead we’re getting what he learned building it
  • browsers are a massive pain in the butt
    • javascript, css rendering, most painful are header issues, caching
  • scaling
    • first off, don’t do it because what you predict as a problem is most likely not going to be the proble after all
    • read the Cal Henderson paper
    • monitoring system
    • make sure you know SQL, partition, seperate tables, indexes etc, tags dont map to sequel
    • use caching everywhere
    • figure out where you can get away with being sloppy, RSS feeds can be slow
  • Abuse
    • idiots are smarter than you, they will find a way to break it in ways you dont know
  • Apache
    • learning the innards of Apache is a dark art
    • put a proxy in front of it to sttop everything coming off the same server etc
  • build APIs early !
    • make them as simple as possible, del is not even REST its HTML
    • no API key required to get access
  • identifiers
    • not infintely scalable
    • dont expose the internal identifier as some bonehead will scrape them
  • features
    • the ones you take out are important as the ones you put in
    • freeform tags are
    • dont add in a feature from another site that someone wants you to add
  • RSS
    • thinks important, allows another set of tools
    • put them on everything you can
    • it used to be the thing that made people come to try out a site but he doesn’t think so now, maybe tags are
  • URLs
    • make them plain and simple to allow people to paste the around
  • surprises
    • look for a new behaviour, decide to amplify, modify or reduce
  • Passion
    • do something that you really love or need
    • he started out with a text file full of 25,00 URL in 2000 which became a database for his own use which then became a public system in end of 2003
  • release
    • lots of holding pages, closed betas ,limited invite, he thinks it’s a bad idea, too closed and quiet, you dont get the interaction
  • attention
    • any sort of aggregation of attention becomes something that people are interested in
  • spam
    • attention hogging
    • they don’t do a top 10 because the long timers would always be there but also it would be something for spammers to have a go at
    • dont give the spammers any attention – doh !
  • tags
    • they are about UI and fairly useful for recall and ok for discovery
    • no point in auto tagging as defeats the object
  • motivation
    • there is a feeling at the moment that if you build something that a few people use then lots more will use it
  • effort
    • be careful about where you spend your effort – doh!
  • measurement
    • if a user is using something in week 1 are they still using in week 5
    • also the system itself of course
    • look for behaviour rather than claims for what they are doing

I realise I am blogging verbose almost everything again and there really is no need and it will kill my wrists…

It’s a good summary of how to build an app but if you have built a system before it’s a 101 you dont really need, interesting points only from now on

For testing go to Starbucks and buy people a coffee and chat about what you are doing.

Allow a user to completely remove himself from a system and to completely remove data too

You have to infect every communication means you can, try and turn RSS feeds into a client app almost

Any questions – ooops there is no time left and we’re hitting the break



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