It looks pretty, but I'm having trouble understanding the use case.
A core part of browsing Hacker News or Reddit is opening the links and reading the articles, which are web pages. Once I'm opening web pages, then I want to be able to bookmark them, arrange them in tabs, find them in my history, have them saved in sessions by my session manager extension, configure how they are handled by my ad blocker, search for related information, and so on. In other words, I want a web browser.
The same issue applies the other way around, too. When I follow a link _to_ Hacker News, I want it to show up consistently. I don't want to end up with some Hacker News pages in browser tabs and some in a separate app, and then have trouble remembering where to find that page I was looking at yesterday.
I get that it can be nice to have a slimmed-down UI for specific purposes. But I'm puzzled by this particular use case because there is no neatly contained navigation sandbox — as soon as you follow a couple of links, you're just browsing the Web.
So why won't there be an inexorable push to expand Yack's feature set until it is a browser? Why won't users eventually switch back to using their regular browsers?
My reaction is pretty much the opposite. This looks like what I've wanted the web to be for years now. It's the best parts of RSS, Gopher, and the web.
I want just a 'web browser'. What we've got today are network-native application runtimes that happen to run over the web. There are some cases where that's good, but for "reading an article", it's somewhere between "a waste" and "a channel ripe for abuse".
You talk about bookmarks, tabs, history, etc. I rarely use those for articles I see on HN. I use web browsers for a few very distinct use cases. (They just all happen to be delivered over the web because, I don't know, nobody wants to write applications any more.) "Reading an article" doesn't require bookmarks/tabs/history. I read it, and then I'm done. I mostly read HN in Private Browsing specifically so it doesn't litter up my history with some article I only want to see once. I mostly use Reader Mode, when possible, because I don't want any other junk besides the article. A full 2019 web browser for reading an article is a liability, not a feature. I rarely follow any links from them.
Saying that one needs to "configure an ad blocker" to read articles on the internet almost sounds like an admission of failure.
There shouldn't be an "inexorable" drive to make this into a full web browser, any more than there is for an email program. Email programs display HTML and let you click links, too. They are specific to one type of data, and display it using native controls. Nobody is browsing the web in Mail.app. They are browsing the web in their regular browsers, for the types of online experiences that require that.
> Saying that one needs to "configure an ad blocker" to read articles on the internet almost sounds like an admission of failure.
But having to install a completely new browser for your desktop isn't? Installing uBlock Origin solves all your problems with trackers all over the web. Installing this electron app solves it for a few sites.
I'm definitely in the target group for this. I consume this content just like a faucet and don't care about bookmarks or tab arranging or that. And I generally like the app experience better for most of the social media I consume, so if someone pulls off a really well made UI that consolidates Reddit and HN I might well end up using it.
Yack has a built in browser with reader mode. You can also configure it to open all links in your default browser. It will also allow you to bookmark (and schedule for later) links, posts, comments.
In the future, it will allow users to curate their own feed and share it with others. For example; you can create a feed that has posts from specific channels on YouTube, subbreddits on Reddit and people on Twitter.
Will consider making the Yack profile optional. For the beta version it was necessary because the app has a "Feedback" community, which is built on top of Discourse - This is where users provide feedback and report bugs. Thought about creating a subreddit on Reddit for feedback/bug reports but for users who are on HN or YT, it was necessary to have Yack's own community.
Creating Yack profile automatically creates an account on Yack's Discourse instance but it never associates plugin accounts (hacker news, reddit, etc) with your Yack profile.
Would second that this should be optional ASAP. I understand your need and desire to collect feedback but I don't think it's a great idea to require users to create a profile for something that is a client.
There are other ways to collect feedback than a Discourse instance. Why not just stand up a contact form, Twitter account, or email address?
The idea that web communities and content have become standardized enough to have a single look-and-feel client is an intriguing idea. And it looks beautiful.
Unfortunately, I just wouldn't install a native app for that. My browser is plenty performant to handle it, and I want to be able to call it up wherever I am -- on my home computer, work computer, friend's computer, backup work laptop, whatever -- without having to bother to install something. (And some companies don't let you install software.) Also I'd want to hide stories I've already read and want that to be synced, which necessitates a server anyways.
I'm genuinely curious what benefit a native app has here, why that direction was taken? I can honestly only see drawbacks. (I can understand an app on mobile, just not on desktop.)
Privacy? With a FOSS (or even just third-party) app, the service operator has less fine-grained tracking and behavioral data for you as a user.
The UI can also be designed with the user's best interest in mind, as an alternative to the egagement-driven dark UX patterns that have started becoming the status quo on the web in just a few years.
I use a CLI for Reddit specifically for this reason - I would definitely be potential user for something like Yack. Opening links from the app in an external browser is trivial. Now that you mention it, it'd be a good idea to make it work in the other direction as well. Surely it wouldn't be too tricky to make a browser extension for this?
I would focus on making the best Reddit macOS app you can, that will likely be your largest and most receptive audience. You should use the Apollo iOS app as your benchmark as far as responsiveness and feature set is concerned.
I signed up for the beta, the most glaring omissions are:
1. Keyboard shortcuts. You'll probably want to implement arrow key navigation as well as Google Reader shortcuts (J=Next, K=Previous, see Reeder.app). RES is the gold standard you should be shooting for: http://joeross.me/res/
2. Expand at least a few levels of child comments by default. Apollo does a great job with this.
3. Remove avatar placeholders for services that do not have avatars.
4. Increase information density. In the same vertical space that I can see 14 posts on reddit.com, I can only see 10 in the compact view in your app. The comments are in worse shape, you must remove the spacing between the comment "cards".
Overall, I'm impressed with what you've built here and could see using this app. Keyboard shortcuts are a must before I would spend any significant time using it.
Actually, I was just thinking of something like this. In particular, I'd like to be able to keep tabs on a group of YouTube creators, without being dependent on the whims and machinations of what the YouTube team wants to promote. There are also certain creators who post to both YouTube and BitChute, but prefer BitChute, and I'd like to have a browser that will show me the BitChute version preferentially, without my having to think about it.
I can see this being a nice alternative to a few browser options for checking the latest across multiple sites. Pinned tabs, "Open All" bookmark folder, loose tabs, etc. Not ideal, imo, so having them all in one place and unified under a single UI might be kind of nice.
Can't really speak to the UI though since this is unfortunately macOS only :(
You get the title which is a link to the submission, a picture and a link to the comments. I'm on Android so hitting either opens a webview (powered by Firefox) with an X in the top left which leads back to feedly. I also have scrolling past a submission set to mark it as read.
Admittedly something which handled unread comments and notifications for replies could be more engaging, but I feel like I get enough HN as it is and I want to remain somewhat productive.
Ha, that's a good point. I never could really get into using RSS feeds for whatever reason. It's possible I'd lose interest in this approach to media consumption for similar reason (whatever they are).
It's interesting that the Slack UI design is becoming so popular. Also the VS Code UI (which is very similar to Slack) is another style growing in popularity... Maybe it's easy to find templates for these styles?
It's a mix of Electron & native code (Swift). I have done so many optimizations to make it lightweight, smooth and fast. If you have an older Mac, try it on it and see how fast it is. I use Apple Mail app for my emails and for my benchmarks so far, Yack works faster and smoother than Apple Mail.
Give it a try and don't forget to report back here :)
I just tried it and i agree with some of the comments here, not as fast or smooth as a native app should be. Now, as far as I understand HN only has a readonly API but reddit can be made completely native. Apollo for ios is the best example there.
Personally, i am tired of electron or the mix of electron and native apps that end up using more and more electron code as they grow.
Not related to the app, but I really hate the sliding pages website UI. I almost closed the site because I thought it was broken at first. My problem is that I don't have my browser at full screen and it starts flipping pages before I can get to the bottom of the current page. And its not like I just had a little slit of a browser either, it is 2/3 of my screen down and 95% the width. Although the only reason I don't have it smaller now is because all the websites with fucked up banner ads and popups that don't scroll at all.
But my screen is large, I don't want or need my browser to be at full resolution, it shouldn't be assumed that it will be.
There are many posts on Reddit where I don't particularly care about the comments, and others where I'm just looking for a specific answer. In contrast, I'm actually far more likely to open an HN link in the first place if it has some comments.
Like the_watcher said, a lot of times in reddit I will just look at a pic of a meme or something that isn't pure text. Sometimes it is a discussion post or something where I do read comments but it isn't a discussion of something on another site. On HN, I almost always click to read the article and if it is interesting I will read the discussion on HN. I rarely look at something that isn't primarily text on HN.
I was thinking recently about video streaming sites. There is only one, really, that creators can use. Youtube creators are very vocal about how frustrating YT is becoming. What if creators could use any video streaming site (vimeo, tiktok, whatever) and a single app or site could bring all this together.
This could be the answer, this could solve the problem of monopolies like YouTube.
Hey, thanks for the heads up. The app is ready and can be downloaded and unlocked via the landing page. It's beta at the moment but is very stable based on the feedback we've received from over 1.5k beta testers.
I can see some issues with trying to unify disparate communities / features for power users, but I would love a streamlined HN / Reddit comment browser with better nesting that sits on my Mac desktop. Signed up for the beta.
EDIT: Oof, not so interesting in making a profile for it, though.
Will consider making the Yack profile optional. For the beta version it was necessary because the app has a "Feedback" community, which is built on top of Discourse - This is where users provide feedback and report bugs.
Creating Yack profile automatically creates an account on Yack's Discourse instance but it never associates plugin accounts (hacker news, reddit, etc) with your Yack profile.
thanks for the feedback. Yep, currently looking into the issue. There're over 1.5k beta testers so far.
Didn't know Station was from YC. Yack is a native app with a custom UI/UX built specifically for browsing online communities. As far as I remember, Station was another wrapper that points to actual websites, no?
I would suggest optimizing the images, or lazy loading them. I have relatively fast internet but the images were taking a while to load.
I'd also suggest using JPEG 2000 or WebP images, as they can be faster to load.
Considering this is shared here, I am willing to wait but usually I would click out if the images are taking too long to load especially considering that images provide major info in terms of whether I want to use this or not.
Feedback: I jumped at this headline because HN, YouTube and Reddit are the main social media sources I consume now. I left the front page because I tend to browse these more on my phone or iPad. I do browse Reddit on my computer more than on iOS, but only because the Reddit mobile webpage is so terrible.
Wish youR Mac app blows up and you make an iOS app one day.
What's the problem on iPad? I used Narwhal briefly, before Apollo, but it never particularly impressed me, though I can't name any specific faults either - maybe the design language, which doesn't feel very native or in line with iOS' overall appearance.
A great looking app. Just signed up for Beta :-)
Went through the website but couldn't find a piece of info:
Keyboard shortcuts (preferably vim-like). Is it already there or something in the works? I've been using a plugin for HN for sometime now and would love the same experience on a desktop client as well.
Super cool, but why would you limit yourself to mac users even in alpha? Oh well.
Anyway, we need more of this sort of thing. Most social websites only have value as endpoints and relying on their own UI is just a vertical trap. CSS and designers have done huge damage to the web; a lot of the blame lies with marketing departments.
It has plugin architecture that allows anyone to build plugins for Yack. Once out of beta, users will be able to install custom plugins directly from GitHub. Plugins must be written in TypeScript though.
Does TypeScript have BeautifulSoup? TypeScript seems very appealing to me (a C# programmer) but it also seems like Python lets you write more concise text/XML/HTML processing code and already has particularly helpful libraries for this. Also, virtually everybody writes at least some Python which makes it a perfect language for user-developed extensions.
I don't mean TypeScript is much worse. Python just is the first thing to come to my mind as "right tool for the job" when it's about textual content processing. I'm not saying "please implement Python support instead", I'm just explaining why I've mentioned Python first. TypeScript is great too.
Hey, thanks for the question. Haven't really thought about monetization yet. Want to focus on building the best desktop experience for online communities. Would love to be able to focus on it full time at some point (would be a dream). Maybe will introduce some paid features in the future, but everything in this version will always stay free.
It's feasible and already thinking about Quora plugin. Yack has an open source plugin architecture. Each community in the app, Hacker News, YouTube, Reddit are a plugin. Once out of beta, users will be able to install custom plugins directly from a GitHub url.
No, Yack is not a full blown browser. It's a community app, but will support almost all features RES does out of the box. It already supports multiple accounts across all networks. Few things on the roadmap:
Curated Feeds (Curating posts across multiple networks into a single feed)
Plugins for Stackoverflow & StackExchange.
Good question. Yack started out as a native macOS app for Reddit. As I was working on it, I realized most communities are the same, but provide different and somewhat clunky (especially on desktop) experience.
This lead me into building an open source plugin architecture which allows anyone to bring their favorite communities to Yack.
Plugin architecture, with the help of some really talented engineers helped me quickly build plugins for my favorite communities (Reddit, YouTube, Indie Hackers and Hacker News).
As to answer your question, same argument can be made against Apple's Mail app (which has been a big inspiration for designing Yack). People have multiple email accounts, imagine they all had different UI and you had to have multiple tabs open at all times, switching back and forth, each with different UI/UX. That would suck. Even with a single email address, lots of people, including myself use Apple Mail instead of Gmail's website.
I'm a member of multiple Slack teams, it would suck if each looked different and provided different experience and I'd have to use a web browser to talk to my coworkers. Do you think Slack would take off if it was just a website and didn't provide a desktop experience?
Yack! combines multiple communities into a single, unified desktop experience and takes full advantage of the desktop platform, including native OS level notifications, keyboard shortcuts, and many more.