View From the Crow’s Nest

by | Dec 23, 2021 | Flote News | 55 comments

One of the most important parts of embarking on a complex journey is having the ability to look forward… both in space and in time… so that we can visualize the path ahead and know where we are along that path. While the crews on deck and below work diligently to keep the ship moving forward, it’s important to check in with the captain’s charts to make sure we’re on course and to look out from the high viewpoint to see what’s coming. And of course we want to share that information with you.

 

The danger of producing a detailed roadmap is that people want specifics… and we want to give them… but all too often promises and deadlines slip into the future due to hidden complexities and unforeseen events. Our intention is to provide you with as clear a glimpse as is possible into our plans and where we are with regard to them while also avoiding that pitfall of being too confident or promising too much. Waiting for a fix or feature that has yet to arrive is frustrating, but it’s far more frustrating to be told it’s coming at a given time, getting excited about it and then having it be overdue.

 

LEAVING BETA

Unfortunately, the realities of software development and resource constraints mean that not everything works out as planned. We’ve been signaling that our V1.0 version of Flote would come as early as Q4 of this year. We had initially hoped to deliver it by August but as that deadline approached, we realized it would be impossible to deliver in the timeline we’d first projected so we reset to Q4. And now as we come closer to the end of the year, that timer too is running out.

 

The good news is that during this process we’ve brought on several exceptional new team members to build this new version of Flote. In doing so, we’ve developed a much more nuanced and refined understanding of what it takes to go from a rough prototype (the site you’re using now) to a stable, scalable and secure production-ready service. This has caused us to re-evaluate every aspect of the build from the fundamental architecture to the login authentication to the crypto wallet. We’ve developed an entirely new method for creating and managing post data, cleaned up and revamped our database, crafted our own scaling and deployment system and re-worked our development environment and how we communicate with each other to get these tasks done.

 

It’s like going from a hand-fabricated test vehicle to building a factory and supply chain to mass produce that car in a safe, cost-effective and highly reproducible manner. Believe me when I say that we had no idea what we were getting into when we started but that, having gone through this journey, what we will deliver at the end will be a massive upgrade. Some of that improvement will be visible to you, our site members, but much more of it will be below the water line where it’s out of sight… serving as a solid framework onto which we can build something truly amazing!

V1.0 RELEASE PLAN

We are currently planning to deliver version 1.0 of Flote (out of beta!) by the end of the first quarter of 2022. This includes completing the build, deployment and internal testing as well as a special “early access” period for selected Plank Owner NFT holders to try the site and offer feedback and suggestions. Once we are confident that our new boat is seaworthy, we’ll kick off the launch and welcome you all aboard.

Our team believes that it is better to delay a product and release it when it’s ready rather than put something out that is going to disappoint you so we are taking some extra time refining, prioritizing, developing, testing and assembling the parts so that we can deliver an updated Flote that we can be proud of. As of this writing, we are close to the end of that construction phase and will gladly let you know when it’s time to open it up for testing. We are excited for the launch and we hope you are too!

FEATURES AND REFINEMENTS

 

Our intent with v1.0 was to reach feature parity with our Beta product while increasing stability, scalability and security but we’ve taken the opportunity to add in a few extras while we can. These are the features we expect to see included in Flote V1.0. Please note that circumstances may require revision of this information as we move forward.

 

  • Custom Theming (this is Dark Mode plus!)

  • OAuth authentication and enhanced account security

  • A significantly upgraded post interface

  • New and vastly improved large file upload handling

  • More feature reach Explore functionality for finding users and content

  • A new and refined Flote brand identity

  • MetaMask crypto wallet integration

  • Post View / Direct Messaging / Notification features from current site

  • Live streaming capabilities comparable to the current site

 These features will be removed or temporarily disabled:

  • Removal of existing BTC wallet

  • Temporary disabling of wallet utility features (tips, P2P payments, superchats, subscriptions)

  • Discontinuation of the Android mobile app from the Google Play Store (see below)

These features will be added or undergo refinement after the v1.0 launch and going forward into 2022:

  • Transition plan for existing BTC funds

  • Wallet utility features refresh (tips, P2P payments, superchats, subscriptions)

  • Chat updates

  • Notification updates

  • New Passenger onboarding process

  • Groups functionality

  • Improved engagement metrics

  • Dynamic landing page content for first time visitors

  • Total rework of the live streaming functionality

Looking deeper into the feature we find these things on our path:

  • FloteFest 2022 IRL gathering in Gause Texas

  • Marketplace features including listings, transactions and advertisement

  • Distribution of the Flote Token and integration into the site

  • DAPP arcade and metaverse offering via Project Mirage

  • Decentralization!

THE ANDROID APP

 

We were recently approached by representatives of the Google Play Store and asked for a login account to Flote so that they could look around inside the app and make sure it met their standards for user generated content. While it was unclear how they expected to review a social media application without going through the process of creating an account for themselves, we complied with this request which was backed by a threat to simply remove the app if we did not.

 

Fast forward about a month and the results came back… “Your app features or hosts objectionable user generated content.” Never mind that it was an account with less than 100 followers clearly marked as NSFW and that other members could simply ignore it. Never mind that nearly 100 people wanted to see the content which was non-violent and not illegal. Also never mind that it wasn’t an account any of our actual members have had an issue with or reported to us. Google finds it objectionable and the solution was either remove it or they’ll remove the app.

 

So we removed their test login and expect the app to be no longer available as of December 29. We will, for the foreseeable future, however, continue to provide an Android APK of our build for members wanting to install it themselves and will evaluate the situation for our V1.0 launch when the time comes. While we’re sorry for the inconvenience this will mean for people who were using the Android app, we have been expecting a move like this on the part of the Google Play Store for some time and can’t say we’re surprised by their insistence we censor you to continue receiving their blessing. We sincerely hope that you will switch over to our web app and continue without the Google Play Store’s oversight and approval.

 

In it’s place, we are rapidly developing a solution that will utilize our own F-Droid Android App Repository which will enable you to install the Flote APK and then automatically receive updates to it through the F-droid app. This feature is nearing completion as of this writing and should be available very soon.

THE PATH AHEAD

 

Going further into the future things get harder to see… but once we pass these rough waters of the total rebuild, we anticipate better weather, calmer seas and greater speed and visibility. Our team dynamics are stronger, our alignment to the task better, our ability to navigate and build quicker and more robust.

Above all, we want to produce value for you and help you to express yourself and find or build your communities. We believe in the idea that free speech plus free markets make free people and we are committed to building the tools and offering the services you want to make that a reality.

 

Once our v1.0 platform is launched, we will begin working on a living roadmap for public distribution that will include not only our blue sky ideas but also the details of what we’re doing to achieve them… and when you can expect to see those pieces built and added to the ship. Our CTO has proposed an exciting and dynamic model for how to achieve this and we believe the visibility it will give you into our process will keep you aware of how things are progressing and keep us accountable to our plans, estimates and deliverables… a win/win for us all.

 

In 2022 one of our biggest topics of discovery and discussion will be the push toward decentralization. What will this look like? Looking from our current perspective, we’ll most likely pursue a hybrid approach in the short term… our V1.0 monolithic site supported by either mobile or Raspberry Pi based devices running access nodes… possible IPFS distributed storage integration, maybe some sort of federation through the ActivityPub decentralized networking protocol… it’s really hard to say as the state of the technology is advancing so rapidly! What we can tell you is that our desire to be interoperable with other tools and communities is rivaled only by our desire to provide unique capabilities for and preserve the culture of our own community. So whatever path we chart, those will be our guiding principles.

THANK YOU

 

We appreciate your patience and understanding and invite you to offer your comments any time to support@flote.app or reach out to the Flote team members individually on the site. We look forward to hearing from you and to the future we’re building together. Thank you for being part of our flotilla. And if you’re not a member already but would like to be, come join us at joinflote.com

55 Comments

  1. Angelle Soleil

    A strong foundation is paramount to ensure sustainability. The Ark will sail and we all will be waving from the railings as it Flotes.

    #FGoogle

    Reply
  2. Kaz

    Thank you so much for the detailed update on what is happening with the project.

    I’m only a new user, as of a couple of days ago. I’m in the process of ‘unpicking myself from the system’ and have been exploring alternatives.

    So far what I see is awesome. I know how much hard work is going into this, so would like to express my appreciation and gratitude for all you people who are working your butts off making this for us.

    I have had a great experience of the site so far, finding it satisfying for my purposes even though it is in Beta.

    Yes it’s better to take the time that’s needed to build the product right, instead of rushing something inferior out the door.

    Looking forward to using 1.0 when it is ready! 🙂

    Reply
    • Alex Martin

      Hey Kaz, thank you for the comment and for the positive thoughts. Welcome to the site and we hope you’ll like the new version when it releases!

      Reply
  3. VesaP

    Regarding the troubles with Google Play Store: If you can fit the functionality into a mobile web page instead of an Android app that might even be preferable because a web standards-based implementation is readily useful for alternative mobile platforms whenever such emerge — take PinePhone for an example: http://www.pine64.org/pinephone .
    Thumbs up!

    Reply
  4. VesaP

    Regarding your hardships with Google Play Store: I think the bright side of the story is that a web app is actually the preferable choice for any emerging alternative mobile platform — take PinePhone for an example: http://www.pine64.org/pinephone . And if we dislike the hegemony of Google, then we should be supportive towards alternative mobile platforms, right?
    :thumbs up:

    Reply
  5. VesaP

    (Sorry about that accidental double posting. I think the latter one is better worded, so please remove the earlier one and this comment… Thanks.)

    Reply
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