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My Mastodon App

social Mastodon Apple iOS
Phil Chu
Phil Chu
Making software since the 80s

There isn’t really a strong business case for this, but I’m working on yet another Mastodon iOS app. I already found alsmot twenty (listed on GitHub), most of which are free, and half still actively updated.

But I want to get more familiar with the nuts and bolts of the Fediverse, and Mastodon in particular, and the best way to learn some software tech is to actually code something.

Plus, I’m flitting among multiple Mastodon apps right now (most frequently Ice Cubes and Metatext), and I have my own ideas of what I’d like to in a Mastodon app, and more generally, in a social media app (I developed one for WordsEye several years ago and I was pretty happy with it, although it was pretty much abandonware once it hit the App Store).

Some key ideas I want to implement:

  • Round avatar icons. This is debatable, the most obvious objection I can think of is that not everyone uploads an avatar image intended to be rounded, but making avatar icons round means that it’s immediately obvious which graphics are avatars by the shape (assuming you’re not rounding any other graphics, and that would be weird).
  • Show boost dates. Typically apps will just show the original post date, but then it’s confusing why your supposedly chronological feed is showing showing dates out of order. The argument against this is, of course, clutter, but I think this isn’t too bad.
  • Encourage alt text. This means the interface for posting images should immediately present alt text entry (Metatext does this), and the feed should make the presence (and absense) of alt text obvious, and even better, immediately display it (it seems to me that would be better for accessibility, too). I have this prototyped, and I like it - there’s a lot of good alt text prose that people are missing out on reading.
  • Easy to mute and block. I’m a big fan of filtering your own feed by blocking (and OK, muting, but I think that’s wimpy. I figure if someone’s blocking me, they’re doing both of us a favor). In some apps, maybe most, it can take some work to find those options, and some users may not even realize that’s an option. Also, it’s required by the Apple submission guidelines (as I discovered with the WordsEye app).

I have more opinions, but I’ll wait until they’re implemented, so I have the option of changing my mind or pretending I never had those opinions.