CraigsHome – Android App

2009/09/26

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iconI published a new Android application to the market today: CraigsHome. CraigsHome plots CraigsList rental listings on your Google map. You can get more information about the listing including photos, and even email the author right from your device with one click.

Right now, it only covers rentals (apartment, room, house). It could easily also cover for sale listings. Without going into too many details, it would require some extra processing on the back side. With for sale listings, this could be the Zillow-killer app. Re-presenting data from CL is never going to be as clean as Zillow listings, but with the popularity (and free-ness) of CL, it could really put a dent in things for them.

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Zillow API – No Thanks

2009/09/26

Noticing that there was no Zillow app for Android, I recently embarked on writing one. Pretty simple, assuming they make their data available in a reasonable manner.

Taking a look at their terms of use made my heart sink a little. Quite complicated, and mostly targeted towards integration with web pages. I sent them an email asking whether an Android app would violate their terms of use. A few days later, I received a response. Yes, an Android would violate. They didn’t say exactly how, or why.

Here’s a tip for API providers: it’s a good thing when third parties offer to integrate with your API, creating free applications that make money for you, with no personal gain to them.

Regardless, as it turns out, the API itself wasn’t satisfactory (by design I think). If you go to the Zillow site and search, you get very rich results. The API doesn’t return the same data. Consider the most basic use case: given an address, show surrounding Zillow data. The API can’t handle this. All it can really do is take in an address, and return specific results. And, the address needs to be very particular. It’s not good about handling fuzzily-entered addresses. The API docs say that it returns data for surrounding addresses. It may return one or two, but that’s it. As I mentioned, the same search on the Zillow site returns tens of results.


Asteroid Tracker

2009/09/26

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I published a quick app to the market, NEO Droid – Asteroid Tracker. Just s simple app that shows asteroids and comets (aka near-earth objets) in the vicinity of earth. This was really a test for me, to see if I could reliably mine useful data from an HTML web page. It turned out to not be that bad. If you are adept with regular expressions, picking what you want out of a web page is quite easy, and as it turns out quite fast … faster than trying to parse the web page’s structure.

I wonder how the folks at the NEO program feel about third-parties building apps that use their data? In all likelihood, this data is for fun in the first place so they don’t care. Or, they are happy that people are writing free apps to publicize them. Under other circumstances, I think it could be a problem (for-pay apps, re-purposing the data, etc).


CSDroid – Clear Sky Droid Android Application

2009/09/08

Over the past few weeks I’ve been updating my latest Android application, CSDroid (Clear Sky Droid). This is targeted at a very narrow interest group: amateur astronomers.screen-1

The site cleardarksky.com has been a godsend for astronomers since it’s inception. It produces easy to read “sky charts” that describe astronomical viewing conditions for various locations around the US and Canada. Cleardarksky.com uses the Canadian Meteorological Society’s data to produce these charts.

CSDroid is essentially a front-end for cleardarksky.com, for the Android platform. The main purpose is to view up to date sky charts, but it makes this easy by showing the closest charts to your current location, providing a search interface, mapping chart locations, and allow you to manage a list of favorite charts for quick viewing.

Thanks to Atilla Danko of cleardarksky.com for allowing me to use his data sets. All data and images for this app are provided by and used with permission from cleardarksky.com.