Greetings to everyone in the cracked apps scene! My name is TDDebug, and it's my pleasure to come forward today with some optimism and signs of progress. Today is a landmark.
What's with Appulous?
Appulous is the largest iPhone and iPod Touch application database in the entire world (except for iTunes, of course Wink) and has been the scene's number one source for over a year now. It was created by Kyek, who knew that the scene needed a large application database to ensure quality and organization.
However, due to Kyek's personal life becoming more and more hectic, he is unable to manage, optimize, develop, or scale Appulous to meet the demands of millions of users. The website has suffered from his inactivity, and has gotten extremely slow and periodically unavailable. This isn't just pissing off normal users, this is bothersome to crackers who find it difficult to make submissions to Appulous due to its slow speed.
What's the solution, then?
We can't just wait another half a year for things to get better like last time. After the introduction of the troll bridge, Appulous quality and speed has gotten so poor that we have been begged to solve this problem.
The solution: I have created a new website called apptrackr which will completely replace Appulous, which is shutting down soon. Apptrackr will inherit the Appulous database and be managed by not only myself but several designers and programmers from all-around!
Where to begin?
We need to ask ourselves the question: if we could redo Appulous, what would we change? There are many answers to this question that I can make as a software engineer, and there are a lot of suggestions that all of you could make in regards to the user experience. But one thing we can agree on is that the most important thing to improve is the speed of the website. Appulous is so slow now that users can barely ever submit applications. In order for apptrackr to succeed, we must do what Kyek has been unable to do recently and scale out the website. We need state of the art caching, a better static data distribution model, and heavy software optimization. This kind of stuff doesn't just happen overnight, though, and it will take a while to perfect. But so-far, I believe I've given it my best shot.
Other areas of improvement include management. Policy decisions (whitelist, budget) need to be managed properly and securely. For this reason, policy decisions will be left to an advisory committee which contains many responsible and well-known figures in the scene. Aside from this, we need transparency and continuous progress.
Additionally, we need to focus on functionality. We need a working API, a faster and more optimized mobile website, and to leave room for improvement in the future. Not just plans, but implementations.
As an added bonus, we need to improve the user experience and graphical quality of the website significantly.
It does everything Appulous does, and more!
All of Appulous' core functionality has been replicated in apptrackr, but not copied. I have created my own iTunes scraper which is compatible with all iTunes stores, while Appulous only supports the US store. Our application database has been populated with information that Appulous has extracted for well over a year now. There are also some subtle changes here and there which differ significantly from Appulous. These changes were made to improve the user experience and/or make deployment easier.
In order for Apptrackr to scale out, it must scale out static content. Therefore, our submission system has a built in queue system which processes new submissions within a minute or two, and will distribute content like screenshots and app icons to the appropriate servers. This allows us to, later, add automated link analysis and moderation.
The user experience is a lot better.
Apptrackr has an improved template which makes it easier and nicer to browse and search for applications. It uses as much AJAX as possible to ensure efficiency, and content changes in quick fade-ins and fade-outs. You will now see never-before-seen (outside of staff and a select few) screenshots of apptrackr.
Highlights of the user interface
* App icons are fully rounded instead of being sometimes rectangular and ugly (like on Appulous).
* Screenshots are viewed in a small frame which can be navigated with buttons. The screenshots will fade/slide in from each other.
* Categories and sorting options are easy to access and manipulate.
* Search is easy to operate.
* Default options on submission are tailored for mass-submission.
When is apptrackr being released?
Apptrackr beta is online now, but only our Advancements, Developers, Moderators, and Staff can use it. More information can be found here. Want to be an advancements user? Donate! (proceeds go to apptrackr, obviously)
Apptrackr isn't done yet and can't be fully released until it is. We still need to make an API, a mobile template, and add usergroup specific functionality (like, for example, moderator tools). We may still touch up several things with the interface, optimize components, and much more. We should be able to finish all of that and release apptrackr to replace Appulous this month (if all goes well).