Rakkit

Power Off

I’m here to announce that as of today Rakkit will be shutting down.

We’ve learnt a hell of a lot during the last 2 years of running the site. Most significantly how difficult it is to run a busy web design agency and a ‘pet’ project alongside one another. Clients always take precedence and they’re extremely demanding, understandably so.

We have a feature list the length of ourselves that we’d have loved to have spent time implementing on Rakkit but unfortunately we haven’t been able to justify this with the usage metrics we’ve recorded. As a result we have made the very difficult decision to shut down the website in favour of some other products we’d like to work on.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who offered us support, help and advice during our time running Rakkit, it’s been very important to us.

If you were a user of Rakkit, thank you very much for sticking around!

Kind regards

The PANDR Team

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Getting Started…

Today we deployed a small update to the UI of Rakkit. We’ve introduced a small help dialogue in the right hand column of the interface when you log into the system.

Feedback and statistics indicated to us that people were unsure what they were supposed to be doing on the website once they’d created an account and logged in. This dialogue takes a small step to alleviating this problem.

We’re still working hard on fine tuning what it is that Rakkit does, so we anticipate that this will only be a temporary solution until we launch a couple of new features. However, for the time being we hope it will help a lot of people better understand how to use Rakkit.

The help dialogue on the page links to a more detailed ‘Getting Started' page which is also available from the footer on all pages. Read this for an indepth understanding of how to use Rakkit and how to customise your own listening experience.

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Rakkit. Open for business.

This week we did something brave, we opened up Rakkit the general public. The site is now accessible by anyone. No invites required. So what are you waiting for?

http://rakkit.com/#pass

Although Rakkit is still very much a work in progress, we wanted to open the platform up to test some hypothesis about whether this was a product people would use and just how much they would use it.

We’re collecting lots of data about how Rakkit is being used. We’ll be making incremental improvements as time goes on and building in new features suggested by our users.

Enjoy listening to the music the web is talking about and we’ll help make it as fun as possible.

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Search on Rakkit

It’s been a busy week here at PANDR HQ. We’ve played host to the first ever Norwich Ruby User Group Open Hack Night as well as cracking on with a lot of work too, a large part of which has been focused on Rakkit.

This week we’ve launched the much requested search functionality. A new search box in the top right of the Rakkit interface will enable you to type in your desired query and quickly find your favourite Artists, Tracks, Users or Blogs. There’s really not much more to it than that.

The eagle eyed amongst you will notice we haven’t had many Soundcloud tracks on the system for a little while. Well we’ve fixed that now and you should start to see these appear again as Rakkit does it’s thing and keeps track of your favourite music sources.

We’ve also been making some performance improvements this week which should result in faster page loads for our users. We’ve got a lot of data flying through the system so we’re still fine tuning this as best as possible before we embark on applying some significant page caching; yes thats right, we haven’t done it yet. During this beta stage we’re working our socks off to ensure all our database queries are as efficient as possible before relying too heavily on caching.

Our next focus is going to be opening the system up to a public audience. This will involve us removing the beta invite process and ensuring everything is in place for people to sign up and listen to all the music thats available. We’ll keep you informed with progress with regards to this.

In the meantime, if you’re in the UK like myself, then enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend, otherwise, simply enjoy your weekend. I’m off to London to enjoy Notting Hill Carnival.

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Sharing is Caring. Track Sharing on Rakkit.

Hello, it’s been a little while since we posted here we wanted to let you know Rakkit is still in development and we’re being used by a growing number of Beta Testers too. During testing we’ve stumbled across a couple of fundamental bugs which have held back progress for a few weeks now but we’re back on track and have just posted some new changes:

Availability of Track Actions

We’ve stopped hiding all the various actions that available when you hovered over a track in a playlist. These are now visible permanently in the top right of each track and have been updated to include a play button with a play count, a Rakkit button also with a count, a download button, and the sharing button.

It seemed obvious to highlight the popularity of various tracks on the system through the play and Rakkit counts and it’s helping our users to decide what they’d like to listen to first.

Track Sharing

Via the sharing button described above, you can now share all your favourite tracks from Rakkit, with your friends who are also using the service as well as those on Twitter and Facebook.

From our own experience of using Rakkit, we found it frustrating being unable to send tracks to each other when something great dropped in; now we can. But believe you me, there is a lot more we intend to do with this feature.

Styling Updates

We’ve made a few updates to the styling of Rakkit too this week. You may notice that User, Artist, Blog and Track stats in the top right of their pages has been updated slightly.

We also have a new improved navigation in the top right of the page. You can now access the most important aspects of your profile, as well as your new inbox without having to visit your profile page first.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy the new changes and we’ll keep working on improving Rakkit. Happy listening.

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Rakkit ❤’s Soundcloud

Soundcloud

We’ve got loads of news to spill, including some updates.

Firstly we received some great interest after out post about looking for some talented people to help with the development of Rakkit. We’ve recruited the help of 4 developers across the UK to help behind the scenes to ensure all the functionality, you’ve requested, is in place and there are no nasty bugs lurking in any dark corners.

On another note, we now support Soundcloud tracks. This means if any of the websites or blogs that you love, that we track, post embedded Soundcloud tracks within their content, we’re able to index them in Rakkit and present them to you for your listening pleasure. No more missing out on any of the highly recommend music you’re favourite websites are posting, just because they aren’t MP3 files. Ace right?

This is stage 1 of Rakkit’s Soundcloud implementation. At present we only index Soundcloud embeds that appear on a sites homepage. Rest assured we’re working to expand our services to index those tracks that either feature within a sites RSS feed or even deeper within a site. We’re also working towards linking up Soundcloud tracks to be downloadable, Soundcloud permitting, and will reinstate the download icon on Soundcloud tracks once this in place.

If you have any feedback then please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at: hello@rakkit.com and will endeavor to get back to you as soon as possible. Stay tuned for more updates too, we’ve got some exciting bits and pieces in the pipeline.

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Rakkit’s New Player and the HTML5 History API

We’ve just launched one of the most major updates to Rakkit since it went into Private Beta; a new version of the interface that makes use of the HTML5 History API on modern browsers.

"What does that mean?" i hear you say…

Well the History API allows us to manipulate the Internet browsers history. With regards to Rakkit, this means we’re able to load new playlists, music and screens into your browser, as well as change the URL in the browsers address bar (for bookmarking purposes), without the need to refresh the page and stop the currently playing music.

As a result we have had to tweak our system in order to maintain a consistent playlist as users navigate around the system, which we have done using Redis.

Redis allows us to maintain two playlists for each user at a given time: the ‘currently playing’ playlist and an ‘armed’ playlist. When content for a new page is loaded, all the tracks from that page are loaded into the armed playlist. This means when a user presses play on a track from the playlist on screen, the currently playing playlist is expired and recreated from the armed playlist and the track begins playing.

Tradeoffs we have had to consider are that the History API is still a working draft of the HTML5 specification. So as well as only working on modern versions of the popular browsers, it is also subject to change. We will need to be vigilant in ensuring we adhere to best practices over the coming months as this element of the specification is carved out, but we’re more than happy to support the development of this aspect of HTML5.

We will be ironing out any performance bottlenecks over the coming weeks as speed is at the forefront of our work. This new functionality was in fact delayed as we chiseled away at unsatisfactory page load speeds.

We will also be carrying out further integration of Redis to enhance our caching policy and provide the best service possible.

Enjoy.

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Join the Rakkit Team

Rakkit has been out in the wild for a little over two months now. We’re taking small steps towards how we envisage the application working but there is no doubt we have a lot to do before we get there. That’s where hopefully you come in…

If you’d like to be part of the Rakkit team and help us to develop a great music player for the web then we’d love to hear from you.


What is Rakkit?

Rakkit is a music aggregation platform for the web. We monitor as many popular music websites as possible. Rakkit hangs on their every word, waiting for the next hottest track to drop so we can dish it out to our users in a beautiful clean interface that allows them to glide through updates from all their favourite sites effortlessly on a daily basis. But this is only the start…


We’re looking for people with some or all of the following skills:

Ruby on Rails
Redis
PostgreSQL
jQuery
HTML5
CSS
Heroku
C#
GitHub

We welcome introductions, code samples, portfolio examples and even haikus, from music savvy interns with a keen eye for problem solving and programming, to seasoned pro’s looking to cement their stamp on the web.


What will I do?

Your position will most likely be remote, although it’s not unlikely that we’d like to meet you and share a beer at some point.

You will liaise with us at least weekly to discuss which aspects of Rakkit you would most like to work on as well as how you’re getting on. You will then wow us with your enthusiasm and skill in helping us to further the project.


What will I get in return? (Besides love and respect)

In all honesty, right now, nothing.

Rakkit is currently a bootstrapped startup and at present it makes no money. The system is developed solely outside of working hours by team PANDR. As a result, at this time we’re just looking to work build a friendly team of talented people who simply have an untouchable passion for music and Rakkit too.


Who are we?

We’re a small web agency called PANDR, based in deepest darkest Norfolk (UK). I’m Pete (@zoltarSpeaks), the developer and my partner in crime is Rob (@robbarwell, our designer.


So…

If you love your music, like what we’re doing and want to get stuck in then get in touch: hello@rakkit.com.


(This is probably what will happen when you join us.)

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Changelog: 23/01/2012

Well, well, well, the weeks are just flying by at the moment and the changes are getting pushed into Rakkit pretty regularly at the moment. It will be interesting to see how long this continues for, as we (PANDR) have a fair amount of work in the studio at the moment; clients are calling!

Anyway, we’ve slowed down on sending invites out at the moment because of a few issues we’re clearing up with some of the 3rd Party API’s we’re using. Hopefully it won’t be long before we can extend some more invitations your way!!

Here are a couple of stats for your faces, as things stand:

Plays: 5416

Artists: 2595

Tracks: 5230

Users: 41

Anyway, enough of that, here’s whats been done in the last week:

Updates:

  • Within The Directory we have added further Alphabetical pagination to enable easier browsing of the library of content: Artists/Blogs/Users we have on the system.
  • We have started using the HTML5 History API within The Directory too. This allows users to dynamically navigate the content without any page reloads (all with a fancy, non essential but pretty slide effect too).
  • We have built in support that allows us to publish and unpublish an entire website from the system. This gives us Moderators the ability to remove any content requested by either a website owner or a content owner who might be unhappy about their material appearing on Rakkit - a safety feature. This functionality also enables us to amend any data anomalies that occur via the automagicallness of Rakkit before our lovely users get their hands on it.
  • We’ve added a sprinkling of CSS3 niceness with some hover effects on some of the sub-navigation items. We’ll let you work out which ones.

Bug fixes:

  • Fixed a bug whereby new artists weren’t being displayed in the right hand column of the interface. This is updating far more regularly now for users to explore.
  • Added the new heart logo for a persons Rakkit to the sub-navigation when viewing another users profile.

I think that’s about it for the last week. Don’t forget, if anyone has any feedback then feel free to drop us an email at: hello@rakkit.com.

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Changelog: 16/01/2012

Hello!

Well the first few weeks of Rakkit have flown past and we’ve received plenty of very healful feedback. I just wanted to highlight some of the changes we made to the system this weekend, a bit of a Changelog style approach.

Updates:

  • Firstly you are now able to log into Rakkit using either your registered username or email address.
  • A lot of the work we did last week was in an effort to ease the introduction to the system when new users registered. We are now providing two different streams of music on the system: All Music and Feed.
  • All Music is literally that, an entire playlist of all the music that drops into the Rakkit system. However, there are controls to filter this to show only new music from the last 24 hours or music the current user has never listened to on the system. This should help to prevent users from listening to the same music over and over again.
  • The Feed tab is a playlist of all the music that is contributed by the Blogs that user is following. For example if i was to only follow Gorilla Vs Bear on Rakkit then i would only see music here that was posted by Gorilla Vs Bear. It’s much more of a personalised list and i expect this is where the majority of users will spend their time on the system once they have decided which blogs they like the most.
  • The most played tracks in the sidebar are now updated on a rolling weekly basis. This provides a lot more variation as the chart will update on a far more regular basis.
  • Feedback: We now have a Send Feedback link in the primary navigation on the website. If you would like to send us anything at all then this is where you can do it - it’s just an email link.


Bug fixes:

  • There was an issue with case sensitive urls for users profile pages. This has now been removed and everyone’s usernames are now case insensitive when it comes to profile pages.
  • Side bar charts: we were aware that the ordering of some of the items in the sidebar charts was inaccurate. Our database queries have been updated and these charts are far more in tune with the system now.

Interface Updates:

  • We have changed the Cloud logo on the Player and Track items to be a heart. Feedback received from early users indicated that it was unclear what the purpose of the Cloud button was. If anyone is still unaware; the Heart icon will “Rakkit” a track. This means the track will be saved to the users “Rakkit” in order for listening at a later date; a “Favourites” playlist if you will.

    Right, that’s it for now. We’ve still got a list of things as long as our arms (stretched out one after another) to do, but if you have anything else to feedback then don’t hesitate to pop us an email to hello@rakkit.com or leave a comment on this blog.

    Happy Rakkit’ing!

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