The last update of 2010!

It’s been quiet for some time on AlternativeTo but a couple of weeks ago me and Markus had a meetup and made some plans for the future. The first thing on that list was to fix some small things that’s been littering our to do-list for way to long. You find the fixes and features worth mentioning in the list below.

  • It is now possible to add unique urls for Android, Windows Phone (7), S60 (Ovi), iPad and iPhone apps. This could be links to the App Store for each platform or to some third-party App Store where the app is easy to find.
  • We have added a new meta tag for applications that requires a rooted Android phone.
  • We have made some changes to the start page and the default tab no longer show the applications that has the most views. Now we show applications depending on when they were added, amount of views and amount of likes they have. Hopefully this will give us a more dynamic start page that changes more often and that is way more interesting for finding great new applications.
  • You can now filter search results by platform and license. You can also sort it by likes or by name. We are planning to build some more features that use these new search features to make it easier to browse for apps with tags.

Of course we want to wish you happy holidays if you celebrate Christmas and if you don’t we wish you some happy regular days! We will probably not write another blog post until 2011 so we also wish you a Happy New Gregorian Year!

A mobile version of AlternativeTo and other news

Hi friends,

We hope everything is well with you all! Autumn is here and that means lots of time for indoor activities like coding, designing and other work on this website of ours…

AlternativeTo is getting more and more traffic every week and this makes us happy and even more dedicated to improve the site step by step. Applications and services like Limewire, Xmarks and Drop.io have recently announced that they’re shutting down for different reasons and AlternativeTo has proven to be a great resource for finding alternatives when things like these happen. Both ghacks and Lifehacker obviously agree  and hopefully we have been able to help many of you find good alternatives.

Mobile version

We have created a simple and stripped down version of AlternativeTo that is more suited for mobile browsers. It should work well on any smartphone with a decent browser and you can check it out by visiting m.alternativeto.net on your mobile device. Remember that this is a beta version but we think most of the basic stuff for finding alternatives should work. Lets us know what you think in the forums!

Meta tags

Another thing we have worked on lately is a system to be able to set a couple of “pre-defined” and important tags. These are the meta tags we have added to the list so far:

  • Discontinued – Intended for applications that is no longer being maintained. If it’s still available for usage/download we will still link to it but to know that an application has been discontinued is valuable information in your decision process. Only admins can add this tag.
  • Warning – If we for some reason think that you should think twice before using this application we add the warning tag. There are very few applications in the database that have this tag so far. Only admins can add this tag.
  • Retina Display (iPhone only) – If the application is designed for the iPhone 4 retina display.
  • Jailbreak (iPhone only) – If the application requires a jailbreak to run on your iPhone. We should probably add a similar tag for Android (Root), right?
  • Portable application (Windows Only) – The application can be executed from a USB drive.
  • WINE (Linux only) – If this application can be used with WINE on Linux. We require that the developer of the application has mentioned this explicitly.
  • Plugin – For plugins.

We have lots of more plans for the meta data system in the future. For example you will be able to filter the alternative lists based on these tags.

We always need your help!

Please help us out to make AlternativeTo even better. Suggest new applications, suggest alternatives and maybe even more importantly; help us to remove alternatives that for some reason are incorrect. Thank you!

New platform: Windows Phone 7

Microsoft is releasing their new mobile platform called Windows Phone 7 across the globe in the next couple of weeks. Many people (including us) are excited about this.

We just added Windows Phone as a new platform to AlternativeTo and we really hope that we can help make a switch to Windows Phone 7 easier by providing you with alternatives to the popular iPhone and Android applications that are out there.

Windows Mobile will still be in our database so remember this:

  • Windows Phone = Windows Phone 7
  • Windows Mobile = Old stuff

We are aware that Microsoft has re-branded Windows Mobile into Windows Phone but we think that when people talk about Windows Phone in the future they mean Windows Phone 7 (and 8 and so on whether they will call them).

And last but not least: please help us add new apps to this new platform. Both apps that only exist for WP7 and apps already in our database that has versions for Windows Phone. Thank you!

Changes in the registration process

As mentioned in our previous post we were featured on Reddit recently and we got a ton of great feedback from the Reddit users. Among other stuff we got some valuable input on our registration process. So we made our incredibly simple registration process even simpler!

  • Removed requirement for e-mail: Previously we required you to enter an e-mail adress but since we use OpenID and Facebook Connect there isn’t really a real need for that. We still recommend everyone to enter an e-mail adress but you don’t need to anymore. If you want to get e-mail notifications you obviously still need to enter your e-mail adress tough, and it will help out a lot if you need help with your account.
  • Removed requirement for username: We also required you to enter a username but for people who just want to like some applications or to give us some quick feedback about applications that should not be alternatives to each other we do not even require that anymore.

This means that our registration process is nothing more than one or two clicks. We hope you like it!

Desktop + Mobile = Software

Hi people!

We hope you all had a nice summer and that you’re still around exploring new and exciting software on AlternativeTo. It’s time for a short update on what has happened on the site lately.

Thank you

First of all we want to take this chance to thank you all for coming to the site and for telling your friends about AlternativeTo. More and more people find their way here every day and it’s mostly organic traffic which makes us very happy. Also, a big thank you to our friend @ziddax who submitted the site to Reddit last week which resulted in a big traffic spike when people there seemed to like it.

Desktop and Mobile merged

It have come to our attention that many users didn’t know there were mobile applications on the site since the desktop version was selected by default when your browsed to http://alternativeto.net directly. There have always been tabs for desktop and mobile right below the logo but it could had been made more obvious. What we decided to do was to merge the two versions into one since it’s all software anyway. The main menu now contains links to all the popular platforms from both the old desktop and mobile versions. And in case you didn’t know, there are other platforms than those in the menu. If you looking for Blackberry, Java or something else then just search for it and you fill find it.

iPhone and iPad

Apple keeps innovating and changing the world of mobile devices and AlternativeTo recently went from having a platform called iPhone to renaming it iPhone OS when the iPad was released. Now Apple renamed the whole platform into iOS but we have decided to split the platform into iPhone and iPad since the applications developed for the big iPad screen don’t work on an iPhone and iPhone apps are kind of useless on an iPad. We believe that there should be a way to filter on only the type of platform you’re interested in and we hope you agree that this is the right way to go.

Let us know if you have any thoughts on these changes or anything else. A great way to give feedback is to sound off in the Discussions that we introduced with our latest blog post a while back. After a slow start the activity in the different discussion forums have increased a lot and the quality of the feedback is incredible.

Follow AlternativeTo, Markus and Ola on Twitter for more more frequent updates.

New look, features and discussion forums

Right now we’re working hard on bringing you new features and also a cleaner look and feel of the whole site. So what have we done lately?

Discussion forums

Some of you took the time to provide feedback, praise, complaints and questions via the Getsatisfaction service we previously used and we really appreciate that. Even though Getsatisfaction is great we also felt the need for a system that we could integrate tightly into AlternativeTo, so we built our own discussion forums. They’re not only intended for feedback and questions but also for general discussions about software. Be sure to check out the first version of the discussion forums and while you’re there why not leave us some feedback on what way you want us to improve the forums or anything else on the site.

New logo and menu

It’s been a while since we introduced our new logo (see the image above) and last week we also redesigned the menu. We got rid of the tabs and moved the platform switch to the white bar that wasn’t used for anything important. This saves some space and we think the new look is fresh. What do you think? We’re planning on making many small design tweaks in the coming weeks.

Widgets for applications

This one is aimed at software developers that want to show off their applications popularity on AlternativeTo and encourage visitors to go to AlternativeTo and leave comments and to “like” the applications they enjoy. Devs can find the code to use on the widget tab on each application page or go to the Widget & WordPress plugin page.

iPhone = iPhone OS

Have you heard of this thing called iPad? Okay good. When Apple introduced a new device running the iPhone OS we thought it was about time we changed the name of this category from just “iPhone” to “iPhone OS”. All applications running on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad belong here.

Two new blogs: iPhoneUpd & AndroidUpd

Besides working on AlternativeTo we have also launched two small side projects. iPhoneUpd.com and AndroidUpd.com are intended to deliver quick and short updates about all things iPhone / Android. Check them out if you’re interested!

Until next time

Join the discussions, suggest any new applications you found recently, join us on Facebook and tell your friends and followers on Twitter and/or Facebook about AlternativeTo. Everyone needs an alternative to something :)

Have a great summer!

Markus & Ola

Some hints and tips about our RSS feeds

RSS is a great way to keep yourself updated about stuff that interest you and of course AlternativeTo provide a couple of different RSS feeds for our content. Read on for a detailed explanation.

RSS for all new applications

These feeds are a subscription of all new applications that get added to our database and there are two separate feeds for the desktop and mobile categories. If you’re only interested in one specific subcategory (like “iPhone” as a subcategory to the mobile category) you can also subscribe to only new applications from that specific subcategory. As an example; this feed lists all new applications that works on Linux and this one gives you a list of all new application for the iPhone. So how do you find the different RSS feeds? Let’s say you want to subscribe to new Blackberry applications. Just go to the mobile category, click on Blackberry and then you get a link to the RSS feed in the right hand sidebar.

RSS for popular applications

Since we get a lot of new content every day, and the main feed might bee too much for most people, we added another type of RSS feed a couple of months back. The popular applications feed gives you all applications that reaches more than 10 likes. We believe that for most people this will be much more useful than subscribing to the feed for all new applications. So if you want to keep an eye on new popular Online applications just add it to your RSS reader of choice. The system works exactly the same as for all new applications if you want to subscribe to only a specific category or subcategory.

RSS for new alternatives to a specific application

This is actually the one feed that we find the most useful. Lets say that you really want to find an alternative to a specific application but you can’t find it anywhere, not even on AlternativeTo. Obviously you don’t want to go back to the site over and over again to see if somebody has added an alternative to the application. Then the simple solution is to subscribe to the RSS feed for the specific application and as soon as someone finds an alternative you will be notified in your RSS reader. You find the link to this feed in the right hand sidebar when you are browsing an application.

Let’s give back some link love

A while back we released a WordPress plugin and an API for AlternativeTo and we believe that they both have the potential to be very useful to any website dedicated to software for computers or mobile phones. But we also wanted to give something back to people that link to us and that’s why we introduced a pingback/trackback feature a couple of weeks back.

Pingback is a feature that is very common among blogs. It basically means that if you link to a blog post you get a link back from that blog in its comments or wherever the author of the site chooses to put the links. On AlternativeTo it works the same way. If you link to any of our “application pages” (example: Photoshop) we automatically link back to your article in the sidebar under the header Sites that links to this page.

These links are a great way for users to dig deeper by checking out other websites and blogs opinions about the application and you as a publisher will get more visitors (and some link love) from us.

Enjoy!

Some changes made the last couple of months

The last couple of months we have been planning for the future of AlternativeTo and we also made some small improvements to the site. You can expect major changes coming this spring but today we want to give you an update about what we have done lately.

- Applications that have not been approved yet are marked with a yellow notification bar. You can still browse to these applications and tell friends about them but we can not guarantee that all of them will be approved.

- Our API has been rebuilt. The main difference for users of the API is that the URLs have changed to make them much cleaner. Read more about it on our API page.

- The RSS feeds had some small bugs that have been fixed.

- We have had problems getting some OpenID providers to work well on AlternativeTo but after some tweaking we think that we got most of these problems out of the way.

- Contributors and the users that added an application are now given rights to change the names of applications.

- We made it possible to like applications from all pages on AlternativeTo. This will hopefully make it easier for you to tell the world what applications you like and make AlternativeTo an even better place for finding great alternatives.

- We are giving some credits to Rackspace Cloud in the website footer. We are really happy with Rackspace Cloud and if you want to try it out for yourself then please use our referral link and you will support us in the process.

- Applications that exist on both the desktop and mobile versions of AlternativeTo are now linked. You can see this on applications like Evernote and TweetDeck.

Thanks for your support and for using AlternativeTo. Stay tuned for some exciting stuff coming soon!

WordPress plugin for AlternativeTo available now

We know, it’s only been a day since we released our API, but we have something nice for you today as well. In our quest to help people find better applications our latest project is a WordPress plugin that you as a blogger can add to your post and display great alternatives to applications you write about.

The plugin is really simple to use. You just add the shortcode and it will add some basic info about the application and its top rated alternatives on AlternativeTo.

You can also filter by license and platform.

  • License filters: free,opensource and commercial. If you use free all applications that has Free, Open Source, Free with limited functionality and Free for personal use will be listed. Open Source and Commercial just list the items that has these licenses.
  • Platform filter: You can filter by multiple platforms but they will do a OR query. So if you use windows|linux we will give you all items that is Windows OR Linux.

There are three different skins avaliable right now, but feel free to modify it the way you like it, or build your own plugin based on our API.

Default

Small

Minimal

Hopefully we will see more plugins in the future – both made by us and by the AlternativeTo user community. If you are a developer and have done something nice based on our API please let us know so we can tell our users about it.

We would also appreciate imput from experienced php and WordPress developers on how to improve the plugin in any way.

You can download the plugin from the WordPress plugin directory and you can always contact us on hello@alternativeto.net with any questions or suggestions. Enjoy!