This is really cool Angus. From the beginning we have known that mobile and alerts is
naturally important to WM -- It's suggested in the original wireframes. The interface
we've been building has been designed with mobile in mind - though we had not
considered the connection issue you point out. Anyhow, Jarda has some awesome wires to
share soon that show how a responsive front end will give us an optimized experience
mobile phones, at least while on the same network.
Personally I love the idea you propose and the idea creating a native app obviously is
really interesting to me from a design perspective. I don't think it eliminates the
need for a mobile-ready web UI, and fortunately, it won't be a huge leap to make what
we have now responsive.
What about using SMS? I have no idea what this entails server side, but it would be a
natural way to get alerts, or for example, to text STOP to your application. Good ol'
email works too. I actually think email would be useful in other situations, like after
your app is up, you get an email confirming it is running and with connection and login
details, etc. You might also want a reminder email if your app has been running for a
month with no activity.
That all said, I think the ability to receive alerts over any internet connection is more
important than being able to poll for status or perform operations. Of course, I want
On Jan 31, 2013, at 2:23 PM, Angus Thomas <athomas(a)redhat.com> wrote:
This is a problem which I've been thinking about in the context
of Winged Monkey, but it is more generally applicable.
We want Winged Monkey to be available on people’s phones, tablets etc so that they can
see the state of running instances, receive notifications whenever there’s an outage
So long as the users are standing fairly near the server which is running Winged Monkey,
and can get wifi connectivity to the same network that the server is on, then it’s all
However, as soon as users step outside the building, it all gets a bit more complex. In
order for the users’ phone to be able to connect over the internet to the Winged Monkey
server, then either the phone is going to need to have a VPN connection, which is a
significant overhead, or the Winged Monkey server instance is going to have to be directly
accessible over the internet. A lot of the organisations which are potential users of
Winged Monkey wouldn’t be prepared to do that.
We could use a social network as a messaging conduit between the Winged Monkey server and
a client application on users’ phones.
For the rest of this mail, I’ll expand in this in the context of Twitter. I don’t *think*
this use would be a violation the Twitter’s terms of service. ( https://twitter.com/tos
There are several public social networks which could serve the purpose...
So, here’s how this could work:
* The Winged Monkey server would register a Twitter account, with protected tweets.
* A user would install and run the Winged Monkey phone app. The first run would also
create a protected Twitter account, and when the user authenticates, the two Twitter
accounts start following each other.
* Thereafter Winged Monkey and the phone app use tweets to communicate over the internet,
sending instructions, status updates etc. as strings up up to 140 characters. So long as
both the server and the client app poll frequently for new tweets, the responsiveness
should be acceptable to users.
Some of the benefits are:
* The communications are authenticated, with access permission which can be very quickly
revoked by unfollowing an account which is no longer supported.
* The communications are also (moderately) secure, in the sense that tweets from and
between protected accounts aren’t generally readable.
* The timelines of the accounts constitute an audit history of events etc.. It would be
trivial to scrape that audit history from Twitter if required.
* The principle benefit, though, is that the requirement for the Winged Monkey server to
be directly accessible over the internet is removed. So long as the Winged Monkey server
can make a client connection to Twitter.com
, stuff just works.
I’m not pretending that this is a flawless proposition, but I think there’s enough of an
idea here to want feedback. I’d love to hear a better way to solve the problem.