Introducing Porter 2
TLDR: Today, we are launching a private preview of the next version of Porter, with three new major capabilities: project sharing, events, and a desktop optimized web app. To support these improvements, Porter will change from a downloaded mobile app to a hosted subscription service.
Back in October, when Porter launched, I mentioned: “You end up feeling like you’ve left out some of the best stuff.”
From it’s inception, there were two big things I knew Porter should do. But, they were put aside in the interest of getting a working tool into my fellow developers’ hands.
Those things were (1) being able to share view and control of a project with others; and, (2) being able to record events and have them selectively trigger notifications from your project.
One need I didn’t anticipate was being able to use a Porter interface from your desktop, where we really do most of our coding a testing. This has since become our third major change.
Over the past few months, we’ve been moving Porter to a framework which supports these capabilities. In that process, it became clear that they all required ongoing interaction with a hosted service. We needed a way to securely serve the interface to your project to collaborators, a place to store project events and dispatch notifications; and, a repository to sync your interface customizations across devices.
So, this next iteration of Porter is a service, rather than an independent app. More about that later. Let’s look at Porters new capabilities.
When I first started using Porter, I found that I kept wishing that I had access to it on the desktop. While debugging and updating my code, Porter was the easiest way to view and control my project. Yet, it was a frustrating to keep having to go back to my phone in order to use it.
Porter 2 takes a step towards easing this frustration by running in the browser, as well as native iOS and Android apps. In moving to wider screen sizes, we adjusted Porter’s layout so that the interface adapts to the screen you are using and makes best use of the visual real estate of your device.
(Incidentally, while there is no native Porter app for tablets, yet; it functions quite well as a web app on larger-screened mobile devices.)
Of course, I didn’t want to have to re-customize my project interface for every device, or every time I signed into the web app. As part of building desktop support, Porter now tracks your project customizations and keeps all of your clients in sync.
Have you ever wanted to share what you’re creating with someone: a colleague, boss, investor, friend. Or, be able to demo it remotely?
Porter 2 now has the capability to let others see and, with your permission, control your Particle project using your custom interface.
Sharing works over the web through a private URL. When someone accesses your project sharing URL, they see the same custom interface for that project that you do in Porter.
(ProTip: If someone adds that web page to their phone’s home screen, it will be like they have that project installed as an app.)
Much like the private and draft URLs right here on Medium, the URL is the password and its important to remember that since it allows anyone to access your project, you need to be especially careful to whom you give your sharing URLs.
To help you manage this style of project sharing, Porter gives you some tools to manage access: you can view stats on how often your project is accessed and you can define how long it remains shared.
You also control how your project can be viewed and used. When sharing a project your guests will not have access to the raw interface, so they can’t access functions or variables you’ve hidden. Additionally, when configuring sharing, you can specify whether your guests can only view variables or if they can both view variables and execute functions.
This is the only major capability that won’t be available today in the preview. While we’re nearing the end of the design phase, we’re still gathering information about what developers might need or want in this regard, and will finalize the scope and begin development shortly.
There are two things I do know about how it will work.
First, it will collect and record event data and make it available for browsing and download.
Second, you will be able to set up triggers, so that when an event meets certain requirements, your clients (eg. phone or web browser) will be sent a notification.
Stay tuned. And, if you have particular thoughts or needs, let us know.
What This Means Today
The private preview of Porter starts today.
Porter will be free during the preview period, and then convert into a subscription service. After Porter 2 is officially launched, we will triple our preview members free trial period for a total of three months, as a thank you for helping us build a better product.
If you have already purchased Porter 1, you already have access to the preview. All you have to do is sign up by accessing Settings > Porter News within the app.
Also, as a reminder, if you have already purchased Porter 1, you will always have access to Porter 1 even after Porter 2 is officially launched.
Finally, if you haven’t already purchased porter, during the preview period you can get Porter 1 for $4.99 (half-off), keep it forever, and still join the preview, as described above.
How long will the preview period last? We’re planning on a 2 to 3 months in order to get all of the goodies in place; but, that’s subject to the final scope for event-related functionality and those pesky unforeseen issues that often arise.
If you have any questions, please say hello (at) porterapp.com.
We look forward to you joining us on this next phase of Porter’s adventure. Even more, we look forward to helping you on yours.
❖ I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or find me on Twitter. Let’s continue this conversation.
❖ I think Porter can help a lot of people go further and faster with their IoT ideas. But getting the word out is hard, so if you can help with a like or sharing, I’d appreciate it.