August 2021 News

I’ll be the first to admit that July was pretty quiet. Vacation, health issues, and general Real Life getting in the way. Mensago is still moving forward. The repositories just didn’t see as much code committed as usual. Design and research don’t show up on GitHub that way.

Work on the server has quieted down. This is mostly because it is at a point where it must wait for client software to catch up. Local delivery is in place and just needs some testing. In short, the server appears to be ready for use in a small demonstration or two aside from testing.

Because of the feature status of the server software, the Python client library, pymensago, is the focus. After a long time of sitting while the server was under heavy construction, the identity services code needed and received some updates and patches.

A new set of developer utilities are also under way to battle test both the client and server code. They’re not quite ready for the light of day, but the star of the bunch is mdshell, which is short for Mensago Developer Shell. With it I can do real world day-to-day testing of all of the code. Right now that’s mostly just creating accounts and managing profiles, but that will all change once the contact management code gets a little further.

Contact Management Headaches

Right now development is focusing on contact management. It’s turning out to be much more complicated than anticipated. Most people don’t give much thought to Outlook’s address book, Google Contacts, or whatever it is that Apple does on a Mac. It’s not a feature that will make or break the next ‘killer app’. Because Mensago communications are opt-in, everything builds on top of your address book. It’s also the reason why Mensago will kill spam dead. If someone isn’t in your address book, anything they send you — if it even gets to you in the first place — is silently deleted.

The main problem with an address book is that it contains a lot of different kinds of information. Phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and mailing addresses are all standard fare. Legacy standards aren’t holding Mensago back, so why not add Bitcoin wallet information or Telegram addresses? The Internet has more ways for people to communicate than ever before, so organizing it all and organizing it well is just plain hard. Figuring out how to store it and then making the software easy to use is even harder. I’m spending a lot of time right now doing just that. It’s not clear how long this will take, but it will be worth it. Until next time!