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Sowt: developing an audio based social network

Sowt: developing an audio based social network

Razan's picture
RazanWednesday, March 20, 2013 - 10:53

Every year we get one or two projects that push our knowledge and technical abilities beyond our comfort zones. In 2012 (and continuing in 2013); Sowt was one of those projects as was Wamda in 2010 & 2011.

When it started; we had to take few weeks to research the application architecture and the technology stack that best fits an audio social network that in part is like Facebook, part like twitter and in others a life of its own.

Professionally we have a lot of respect to those apps and more so as avid users. We get excited when they role out new features and as web builders ourselves we think how did they do it, and discuss that amongst ourselves.

With Sowt, excitement is three fold! First we got a chance to create those features ourselves, then we created them across web, Android and iOS, and last but not least; is creating the other unique features of sowt that we have no reference for!

That is a killer combination that realizes a dream project I wanted us to work on since 2009. And I was glad that Sowt founders shared that strategy, vision and means to make it a reality.

So what was going on behind the scenes? (WARNING: the following is for those of you who appreciate the gory technical details!)

One of the first things we created was a backlog sheet listing all the features to be created and the sprints they were planned to be developed in. We kept maintaining this sheet at all times and using it for all product development discussions.

When building a social network you need to think high performance and scalability from day one. Thus came our choice to use MongoDB, the popular scalable, high-performance, open source NoSQL database.

Also when developing across web/mobile platforms; An API has to be created first to allow all team members to work without delay. This was a first for us as we usually create the API at the end of a web project. So we spent few weeks creating a world-class RESTful API architecture and first batch of APIs for the first sprint of development.

Later we went on creating design-less mobile applications for Android and iOS before creating the web experience to test proof the concept and get feedback on user experience that needs to be designed. This was followed with an intense period of discussions while working with the designer to optimize the user experience for Android to be different than iOS. Springing from the belief that device owners like to experience any app within its own native environment. An example we used a lot in this period was FourSquare and not Viber for instance.

Currently we are preparing for the public beta release of Sowt that is planned to happen tomorrow at ArabNet Beirut. The public beta will have amongst other things full social signup and login as well as highly integrated auto sharing with other social apps. Stay tuned to announcements from Sowt on their Facebook page as well as twitter stream.