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Everything-apps without platforms - say 'hi' to xstore 😊
August 11, 2023 by missytake, holga
Others are hand-wavingly chattering about so called “super-app” or “everything app” architectures, but we prefer to just deliver and improve them. Today, we are happy to announce a new way to find and start webxdc “everything” apps, among them:
A Wordle/Reactle clone, 2048, and other fun games,
calendar, poll and checklist tools,
a first editor app – think Cryptpad but without servers.
Rest-assured, nobody else than your chat partners will know that you are running an app together. There is no server or app-specific hosting and not even the app developer or the xstore bot can track what you do. All app interactions are automatically end-to-encrypted and offline-first: they all safely work in bad or no-network situations. Read below how to try it out, with or without Delta Chat, with or without chat partners and also about how to submit your own webxdc app and and how the whole thing works.
With Delta Chat already working it’s dead simple to start:
Say “hi” to email@example.com and hit Start on the returned webxdc store app.
Select a game or collaborative app for download.
Share the downloaded app to a chat so that all members can Start the app without any logins, cookie or GDPR screens.
⚠️ Note that if your version of Delta Chat is older than 1.38, the store app will not work properly; you can not share downloaded webxdc apps to a chat then. Please upgrade your Delta Chat app, especially on Desktop.
You can test webxdc apps also just for yourself, without any chat group. Share the store apps with your “Saved Messages” chat to play the occassional game without any ads or tracking. Or maybe also try the “add second device” feature to make the account work on both your mobile and desktop devices. A multi-device Delta Chat setup provides a cheap method of safely syncing notes, checklists or calendars between your devices without any additional servers or accounts.
First, visit get.delta.chat to install from several stores and download locations.
Second, start Delta Chat and configure an account in the setup screen:
Configure a Delta Chat account using a pre-existing e-mail address and password. Note: Nobody will see your credentials except your e-mail provider.
On Mobile you may tap this test account creation link in the browser which should open the Delta Chat app and offer to set an avatar and displayname for a new (randomized) e-mail address.
On all platforms you may also hit “Scan Invitation Code” and hold the camera over the following QR code link; on Desktop you can under “more options” also load the QR image from a file.
The test e-mail account will only exist 90 days and it does not allow to send chat mails to most “outside” e-mail addresses.
It is easy to adjust or write web apps so they work as webxdc apps in Delta Chat. And by exchanging updates between different Delta Chat users, you can make them collaborative.
To get started with development, take a look at the docs. You can also take other webxdc apps as an example; in xstore you can find links to any app’s source code by clicking on “More”:
If you want to make a new webxdc app available in xstore, onboard with codeberg.org (a github alternative) to open a pull request to our xdcget config file, like in this example. Note that you don’t need to have your app git-hosted on Codeberg. It’s works basically like in F-Droid, but with less complexity and for all common mobile and desktop platforms.
If you submit an webxdc app and it gets included, we’d be happy to send you “delta chat” and “webxdc” stickers by postal mail. Also, if you need help or need some e-mail test accounts (also unrestricted ones) you may contact us on the webxdc support forum or through other channels.
It’s fine to just port existing apps but please make sure they behave well on both mobile and desktop platforms. Maybe checkout the evolving webxdc-dev npm-installable tool to test your app with multiple devices.
We are looking forward to your contributions, and hope you join the fun with webxdc apps :)
firstname.lastname@example.org is a chat bot instance. After you send “Hi” to the bot, you receive and start the store app, which continues to communicate with the bot for selecting and downloading apps. You can not share the store app to another chat. That’s because webxdc apps can not access the Internet, the store app needs the bot to download apps.
If it was a normal website from a platform, you could say the store app is the frontend, the store bot is the backend.
The xstore chat bot collects webxdc apps from a list of “git” repository sources and will continously offer the latest released app versions. You can also self-host the store bot: checkout installation instructions in the bot’s codeberg repository. It works well together with xdcget, a command line tool which downloads webxdc releases from git public repositories.
- If you deleted the store or chose “clear chat” to clean up, you can at any point in time just send “hi” to email@example.com again, and it will re-send the store to the chat.
- Only one chat member needs to use firstname.lastname@example.org while all others can just start the app they receive in the chat, and everyone can forward apps to other chats without restrictions, and without any kind of central tracking.
- If you use the XMPP messenger cheogram, xstore will not work for you yet; but with upcoming support for webxdc in XMPP/e-mail bridges you might be able to message email@example.com and download apps from there.
We’re also experimenting with a web version populated with the same dataset as our xstore: simply download the
.xdc file and drop it in a chat.
Most of our efforts described above became possible through the support of the NGI0 Entrust Fund, established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet programme. Thanks a lot!