A few weeks ago I posted a blog entry about heartbeats, which was a paper attempting to measure the size of a user base based on download activity. The assumption is that active users will download each new version, and then there will be other people who download the product but don’t become active users.
After seeing the article, Daniel Gruno started playing with the mathematical model, to make it possible to generate this kind of information from live download data on any SourceForge project. That work is taking place in the SourceForge Heartbeats project.
Daniel told me yesterday that he’s ready for you, the SourceForge community, to have a look at it.
Go to the heartbeats website, register an account, claim a project, and identify your project milestones. Milestones can be releases, media events such as a podcast or magazine article, or other significant events in the life of your project that might have generated new interest.
Along with a reading of the Heartbeats paper itself, this may provide some insight into your community, as well as into what works, and what doesn’t, in terms of publicizing your project.
Be aware that this is still experimental. So while you’ll have a chance to play with it, you’re not guaranteed that your data will last forever, or even that this service will stay online forever.
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Rich: I’m speaking with Carlos Ribeiro, and he is a member of the RadioTray project. Could you please tell us what the project does, what features it has, what platforms it’s available for?
Carlos: RadioTray is a Linux application. For now it’s only available on Linux. It’s main goal – its only goal – is to listen to Internet radio. The user interface is quite simple – just a small icon on the system tray or application area. By clicking on it you get a list of preconfigured radio stations. Select one, and start listening. That’s basically the only feature of RadioTray. It’s just a simple way to listen to radio stations.
Rich: How many Internet radio stations are there, would you estimate?
Carlos: I’m not sure how many we have in this version. We had very few in the first version. We keep adding more from version to version. I’d say about 20 or 30. But you can add more very easily with a configuration dialog.
Rich: I like applications that are simple – that have one clearly defined purpose. But it doesn’t give us very much to talk about, does it? <laughs>
Carlos: I created Radio Tray with exactly that Unix way in my mind. I love how command-line applications work, and Radio Tray was created because of that. One of the first features I created on Radio Tray was scriptability, so that you could interact with Radio Tray from other applications. There aren’t many applications that can interact right now with Radio Tray, but the feature is there. It’s more like how command-line applications work. You can use it, and integrate with other applications and create something bigger.
Rich: What do you have in mind for upcoming versions.
Carlo: The latest version – 0.7.1 – came with a plugin framework. What we want to do right now is create more plugins. There’s lots of ideas, from us and from our users requesting more features. We want to add those as plugins, because that’s leaves the main application small and simple, and we can add features by plugins. So there are lots of ideas. Lots of users are requesting a way to record streams from a radio station. There are ideas for integrating bookmark lists with some database. Being able to access more radio stations. So there are lots of ideas.
Rich: Have any of these ideas been developed yet?
Carlos: No, the framework just came out just now. There’s two or three plugins there. But these that I was talking about don’t yet exist. We still are working on them.
Rich: If I wanted to get involved in your project, what kind of things might there be that I could do?
Carlos: Most important right now is creating plugins, or offering small ideas for plugins. We see lots of good suggestions from several users, but I’ve always felt that having plugins would be a easier way for them to interact with their ideas. Some of them are small requests, small features, and they could be easily added with plugins.
If anyone wants to add features to Radio Tray, send in an email to me, and we can work it out as a plugin.
I still need to do the developer docs on how to create plugins, and after that it will be much easier.
Rich: What programming language is the application written in, and the plugins themselves also?
Carlos: Everything is in Python. That’s how Radio Tray was created. I created it mainly because I wanted to learn Python. This is the project that appeared after that.
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