Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I wrote A Facebook To GMail Syncing App

I wrote an app that syncs your Facebook Friends and GMail Contacts!  Actually, I rewrote an app that syncs your Facebook Friends and GMail Contacts.  The first version had some flaws.  But this version is new and improved.  Let me count the ways:

Brand New User Interface:

I tried to redesign the UI with an eye towards a few things:

  • Clearly convey information with large text and bold icons
  • Feel consistent within Facebook's style while adding a touch of whimsy
  • Provide simple calls to action (errors are big and red with simple buttons that indicate the next step)
  • Limited options that respond immediately (e.g. you can change the Sync Frequency without reloading the page or clicking submit)
I'm really interested in your feedback!  What do you think? Please post a comment!

World Wide Appeal:
I'm not sure how this is a new feature but the all new GMail Contact Syncer has been used in 47 countries in the first month.  Above is a world map from Google Analytics (I'm big in India).

Cloud Based Development Platform
I moved the server out of my basement and now have a full data center with redundancy and and horizontal scaling.  There's lots of other buzz words like "Platform as a Service", "Open Stack" and "Virtual Jabberwockies" (I made up some of those).  Not that I really need it but it's cool (and free).  Thanks CloudFoundry.com

Completely Rewritten Syncing Infrastructure:
The original syncing infrastructure was written by hand.  It put each Sync Job in a single transaction, was single threaded and periodically brought my Athlon 3200+ to its knees.  The new infrastructure was rewritten using Spring Integration for Enterprise Integration and Spring Social for Social Networking Integration.  It's fast enough that I actually had to artificially limit its speed so that Facebook would stop rejecting my requests for being too fast.  Also it partitions each job into logical steps to make failover more convenient (e.g. when Facebook randomly fails requests).

Totally doesn't steal your passwords:

The original version of the GMail Syncer required you to enter your GMail password and it stored it in the database.  This is a bad idea.  The new version never knows your passwords.  Using a technology called OAuth your passwords stay with your services (Facebook & Google) and the GMail Syncer stays completely ignorant.  You give access using the providers that you're comfortable with (Facebook & Google) and can revoke it at any time.

Set it and forget it:

As of May 1st, 2012 the GMail Syncer has processed over 1000 jobs, but you don't have to care.  Just set it up once, pick your sync frequency and forget about it.  It'll sync forever (or until you revoke access).

It's Free:

And it's free.  I aught to figure out a way to monetize this bad boy, but I'm not sure how to do that yet.  So take advantage of my bad business sense and get in while the getting's good.

Please give it a try and give me any feedback you have in the comments or at doug [at] fawn and doug [dot] com.


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