Dropserver Progress - October 2023

This is the monthly progress report for Dropserver for October 2023. The previous report is here. The Big Picture My focus is on getting Dropserver to install and update an application that is hosted on a third party website. Most of the work is really just thinking about what the endpoints look like on the third party site, and all the different ways a user will proceed through the steps of installing an app and create an appspace, in particular thinking about how unattended upgrades will work.

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Dropserver Progress - September 2023

This is the monthly progress report for Dropserver for September 2023. The previous report is here. The Big Picture I worked on finishing app changelogs and started working on installing apps from a URL. This is all part of “Dropserver App Packaging and Distribution” project. I also spent some time thinking about how to present, how to make it more easily usable, and whether working on app distribution is the best way to spend my time now.

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Dropserver Progress - August 2023

This is the third progress report for Dropserver. This one will be very short thanks to a much needed vacation during most of the month. See last month’s report The Big Picture After the release of version 0.11 I took some time for exploratory thinking. Upon my return from vacation I went to work on the “distribution” part of “app packaging and distribution”. Exploratory Thinking I18N I collected links to tools and libraries that are used for translating apps with the goal of some day doing the work of making Dropserver localizable.

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Dropserver Progress - July 2023

This is the second progress report for Dropserver. This one will be modest unlike the previous epic. The Big Picture I continued to work on app packaging and managed to tag a release. To celebrate, I immediately went to work fixing some of the things that didn’t make it into the release. Finishing Up App Packaging App Name and Description I had to create validations for app name, and decide how to deal with violations.

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Dropserver Progress - April to June 2023

I am going to try writing monthly updates on the progress of Dropserver development. Regardless of whether I have anything significant to share, I’ll post about the past month’s work. I’ll look at my commits and my notes (I take copious notes, arranged chronologically and in threads, but that’s the subject of a different post) and summarize what I worked on. Since this is the first such post it will cover all the work I’ve done from my last release in mid April until the end of June 2023.

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The State of Sandboxing in Dropserver

One of the bigger challenges of developing Dropserver has been to somehow make it safe to run the user’s application code. In this long-ago post I relayed how I tried a number of different approaches, all of them being too difficult to make work until Deno arrived. Naturally that was not the end of the story. But first… Why Is Sandboxing Important in Dropserver? The goal of Dropserver is to make it possible for regular users to run server-side code of their choosing.

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A Secret Santa App On Dropserver

Inspired by Simon Willison’s post on making a Secret Santa app as a Datasette plugin I decided to write a minimalist Secret Santa app for Dropserver. Dropserver is my attempt at building a platform for hosting my own personal apps. A primary objective of DS is that it should be really easy for a developer, particularly a frontend developer, to write an app that can be hosted by Dropserver. DS accomplishes this by using a JavaScript runtime (Deno) and by providing many of the hard parts of backend apps baked in.

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Has Deno Turned a Corner?

Deno is NodeJS reinvented. I like writing code for Deno, and I depend on it as a sandbox for Dropserver after trying many other approaches. Unfortunately the JavaScript community at large does not seem to be embracing Deno as much as I am. It seems many people are simply sticking with Node for now even though Deno 1.0 has been out since Spring 2020. I posted this on Mastodon last February: Deno’s mindshare in 2021 was in the single-digits and had only improved by one percentage point a year later.

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Unpacking Moxie's "People don’t want to run their own servers, and never will"

Moxie Marlinspike’s article on web3 has resulted in huge amounts of conversation online about various aspects of the web and decentralization. One aspect that got a lot of attention, and one that I paid particular attention to given my current project is this statement: “People don’t want to run their own servers, and never will.” — Moxie Marlinspike I want to unpack why I think it’s very challenging to get non-technical end-users to run a home server of some sort, yet it’s not something I’d qualify as “will never happen” either.

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Can An "App Store" Be The Solution to Funding Open Source Desktop Applications?

I’ve been thinking a lot about open source lately, and wondering if there are alternative business models that could make it sustainable. This “app store” idea is one possibility. Motivation I always prefer using an open source application if I can find one that meets my needs. I am uneasy spending money on closed source solutions to any of my problems. It’s not the money that’s the issue. With an open source application I am more confident that there is no ill-intentioned code, and I can believe that even if development stalls, a sufficiently large user base will result in the application getting patches and other needed maintenance work, so that I can continue using it.

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Olivier Forget

Los Angeles, USA
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Aerospace Engineer turned sofware developer and bootstrappin' entrepreneur.