Our Developer Tools are almost ready for launch. Mission Control are at their desks, headsets clamped to skulls, and are running through a series of last-minute checks. Somewhere in the distance, there’s a countdown.
Before I get completely carried away with all the NASA metaphors, it might be useful to take a look at how publications connect with Remote, the mobile web-app where Little Printer owners configure and manage their subscriptions.
The screenshot above lists the publications I’m subscribed to, and demonstrate very clearly that I’m a man of obvious intellect. I’d like to change things around a little, and clicking on the name of the publication allows me to do so.
If I’d like to stop receiving Guardian News, I click — surprise, surprise — the “Stop” button. If I’d like to carry on with the subscription, but tweak what I’m receiving and when I’m receiving it, I hit “Edit”. From this next page I can change the time of delivery, or alter the other specifics of my Guardian subscription.
I might choose, for instance, to stop receiving news about media, and to start receiving world news.
The variables in the picker are pulled from the meta.json file created by the publisher and kept on their own server. We’ve talked about this before. Here’s the code snippet from meta.json that does the job (I’ve shortened it in this case, so you can see very precisely how the variables set affect the choices available on the web app).
I’ve put the entire meta.json for the Guardian publication online, so you can see how it all fits together.
Now everything’s in place. The publisher has done their part, created the meta.json file, and making a publication sample and an edition. Both are in the language of the web, HTML. The sample is the same for every user, and used as a preview in Remote. But “edition” is dynamic, and changes according to the configuration parameters passed in.
For my part, I’ve fired up Remote and configured my subscription. I used the Edit page, which was helped me set publication-specific settings according to that meta.json. I’ve set the delivery time.
And then, behind the scenes, at the appropriate time, BERG Cloud hits the Guardian publication’s “edition” page, hands over my preferences, and back comes personalised content.
For the even more technically minded, here’s the URL that BERG Cloud hits:
See how those parameters section_1 and section_2 appear in the Remote screenshots and the meta.json file?
Finally, this is what is delivered to Little Printer:
There’s a lot going on, but that’s how we get personalised content direct to you when you ask for it. The developer tools — coming soon — will help publication creators preview and debug their designs and code, preparing them for this delivery.
And that’s how publications work!