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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

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The new Paper app from Facebook

Just tried out the new Paper app from Facebook. Blown away by its design and interface. I think I might finally start following my Facebook newsfeed again.

The cool thing about the Paper app is that it gives your Facebook stories equal footing as other stories. Previously I used to use Flipboard, Google+, or Twitter to follow stories while Facebook was just for following news and pics from my friends. This usually led to the Facebook app being rarely opened as general news was more important to me than friends news. Moreover the linear interface while fine wasn’t conducive for the media rich content that my friends were sharing.

The Paper app changes all that. It lets you subscribe to various categories (called Headlines) such as Tech, Pop Culture, etc and also shows your Facebook feed as another category (the first in fact). Moreover, the stories are shown in a Flipboard style interface – both layout and gestures – and that’s very good for quickly flipping through all the stories (news as well as friend updates). Now I don’t have to choose between these two. One app let’s me read both, share to Facebook easily, and even save to apps like Instapaper and Pocket for reading later.

I think the cool realisation that Facebook struck upon here is that rather than having an app that was solely about reading and posting to Facebook, it made an app that is just about ensuring users spend their time in that app. As a side effect of that users automatically end up spending time on their Facebook feeds too. And based on the stories users read, like, and share – which they might not have done otherwise if they were reading the stories in another app – Facebook is able to capture all these signals about its users. Which is all the more useful to Facebook.

Check it out!

The System.Net.Webclient class

The system.net.webclient class can be used to deal with web pages.

To download and display pages this class has couple of methods:

  • DownloadData downloads the page and displays it as an array of bytes.
  • DownloadString downloads the page and displays it as one long string.
  • DownloadFile downloads the page and saves it to a file name you specify.

The class also has properties you can set to be used while downloading a page. For instance:

  • QueryString to specify pairs of query parameters and their values. For example: to do a Google search for the word “rakhesh” one can fetch the page http://www.google.com/search?q=rakhesh. This q=rakhesh is a query string, with q being a parameter and rakhesh being a value to the parameter. To do the same via the system.net.webclient class one would do the following:

  • Headers to specify pairs of headers that can be set when requesting the web page:

  • Credentials to specify credentials for accessing the web page:

  • ResponseHeaders to view the headers received in response.

There are other properties and methods too, the above are what I had a chance to look at today.