April 2021 update
Published on April 5, 2021 by Andre Staltz
Admin

A social network off the grid

Hey backers,

Thank you once again for financially supporting Manyverse! In this newsletter I bring some fresh news about the app and other progress in the SSB community.

New release

In mid-March we made one release containing several bug fixes and performance improvements, and today we're publishing a new release with a long-awaited feature: activity tab. You can download version 0.2104.5 soon from Google Play and App Store, or (on Android) from manyver.se/apk. The total set of changes in those releases are:
  • 🎉 Feature: activity tab shows mentions and follows
  • 🔷 Improve performance on the Raw Database screen
  • 🔷 Improve overall app performance slightly
  • 🔷 (Android) Improve app startup time by 1 second
  • 🔷 Improve private chat list with less visual clutter
  • ✅ Bug fix: newly published message should show immediately
  • ✅ Bug fix: starting new private chats should be possible
  • ✅ Bug fix: pub options should show on the Connections tab

New spec documents

Last month I also worked on SSB protocol documents as part of our NGI Pointer project. The main protocol document I've been updating, which I've mentioned here once, is the Rooms 2.0 spec. As we make progress on implementing this spec with cryptix, we've found holes in the spec and patched it. One result is that we've split the document into more documents.

Rooms 2.0 have a feature called Sign-in with SSB, which we realized was general enough to be applicable elsewhere than just rooms. So we made a specification called SSB HTTP Authentication. The goal of this subprotocol is to make it easy to prove yourself as the owner of an SSB identity, with focus on seamless usability and security. We're relying on feedback from security auditors such as keks.

In these specs, we are also relying on SSB URIs, so I made a document to specify them: ssb-uri-spec. Perhaps you didn't know about it, but "ssb" was last year officially registered with IANA as a URI scheme name, we just don't yet have many apps that support it. The spec I wrote was based on conclusions from a lengthy thread in SSB involving many of its core developers and implemented first in the JS library ssb-uri. There are many ways SSB URIs can be used, and in our specific case it will make it very easy to use invite codes if you have Manyverse installed (or any other app that supports these URIs), as well as making SSB HTTP Auth possible.

Rooms 2.0 almost ready

Progress in go-ssb-room has been so fast, that I could basically show you several screenshots of it working! The codebase was written with maintenance, performance, and security in mind, and the deployed room server offers a slick UI built with Tailwind CSS, with an admin dashboard, and other nice features. But the official launch will have to wait a bit more. We are basically done and will take one more month to polish the final bits and test it end-to-end, also in a staging environment on the internet.

For Manyverse, what this means is that in an upcoming release, there will be support for these new room servers, with better connection stability, better community management and privacy settings.

My favorite rooms 2.0 feature is something we call aliases. This will give you an internet-wide unique name that you can write on a paper or share verbally, to let people easily connect with you. Historically, people have shared their SSB ID on their webpages or social media, but this has many problems and often doesn't even work to connect those people with you. We want to fix that onboarding problem and soon we are going to put this in production and try it out.

Stay tuned, I'll write to you again next month with more news! Warm thanks and let's stay in touch on SSB. :)

— @andrestaltz