Friend of Marketplace: Trishul Goel

Amy Tsay

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Our newest Friend of Marketplace is Trishul Goel! Trishul is a web developer, tech evangelist, Marketplace code mentor, and community builder based in Jaipur, India.

He is also a Mozilla Rep, Marketplace app reviewer, and India Task Force member. When he’s not contributing in all these areas within Mozilla, he enjoys exploring on his motorcycle. He feels “awesome and super excited” about being the newest Friend of Marketplace, and we feel awesome and super excited that he is a member of our community.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Marketplace codebase in August, including several brand-new contributors! If you’re interested in contributing code, please check out our new onboarding process.

The new contribution wiki for September is now available. Please check it for projects that might interest you, and be sure to report your contributions as well as the contributions of others in your community!

Games! Games! Games!

Scott DeVaney

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Race down mountains in Trigger Rally.

Race down mountains in Trigger Rally.

Firefox Marketplace just introduced a big change for the desktop experience—starting today it’s all about the games.

Over the past several months we’ve listened to users and closely analyzed content trends. The picture is clear: when it comes to the content folks want on desktop, they overwhelmingly want games. Lots and lots of games. (To be clear, Marketplace on mobile devices will continue to feature a wide array of apps in addition to games—utilities, social, productivity, etc.)

We’ve opted to showcase a very specific type of desktop gaming—browser-based games—which is to say, these are games you play right in your browser. Nothing to install. No special software needed. All that’s required is an internet connection and game URL.

This is an exciting shift in focus for Marketplace for a couple of reasons: 1) Mozilla strives to empower people’s lives through the power of the Web. By helping to promote browser-based games, we are demonstrating the capabilities and potential of pure Web gaming; and 2) There are some pretty fantastic browser games out there.

For proof, I dare you to play Swoop for less than five minutes.

Or see how far you can get in the TRON-inspired 3D puzzler CycleBlob.

Wanna compete against others online? I highly recommend Agar.io and Tanx.

Have fun…

Friend of Marketplace: Atique Ahmed Ziad

Amy Tsay

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Our newest Friend of Marketplace is  Atique Ahmed Ziad! Atique is an app developer, Marketplace code contributor,  and evangelist based in Bangladesh.

He is also an avid bug-squasher and app curation board member, and has been mentoring other code contributors to fix bugs on Marketplace.

“I love to contribute to Mozilla’s codebase, since it gives me a chance to make my written code visible to millions of people. It gives me a chance to take part in something big, which I can surely be proud of.”

Thanks to Atique for all his contributions to Firefox Marketplace!

A special shout-out goes to everyone who made a difference in June, including Shivee Gupta and Zunaid Amin Enan, who were mentored by Atique.

The new contribution wiki for July is now available. Please check it for projects that might interest you, and be sure to report your contributions as well as the contributions of others in your community!

Firefox Marketplace Introduces Mobile-Optimized Websites Into Content Fold

Scott DeVaney

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Is this an app or a website? Does it matter?

Is this an app or a website? Does it matter?

Good content is good content. It doesn’t matter if that content comes in app or web form, as long as it offers a great experience on your mobile device. That’s why Firefox Marketplace just introduced mobile-optimized websites (MOW) into our ecosystem.

From the name you can probably interpret what this type of content entails. Websites. Optimized. For mobile.

The web is the greatest content ecosystem of all. It only makes sense to blend appropriate web content into Marketplace’s mobile discovery experience. We also want to help content creators by providing a distribution platform for which they can choose to develop just an MOW if that makes sense for them—as opposed to developing and maintaining both an app and website.

There’s no need for apps and websites to compete. Should you engage with a news app or a website? Do you really care if you’re reading a breaking news headline in app or web form?

Today, Marketplace offers a selective subset of MOWs across various categories. As the program evolves, we’ll explore ways the broader Mozilla community can submit MOWs to expand the breadth of content and participate in the curatorial process (if you’re interested in helping to curate content, please feel free to reach out to editor@mozilla.com and we’ll keep you informed of program developments).

Worldreader Mobile Advances Literacy and Education

Scott DeVaney

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worldreader2Consider the case of Charles Madhara. He is a second grade teacher in rural Zimbabwe. There is no electricity in his village; they use solar power to generate energy. Teaching tools are in short supply. So Madhara was very pleased to stumble upon Worldreader Mobile, a reading app loaded with more than 15,000 free e-books, developed by the non-profit Worldreader Foundation.

“It was the only place that offered free books. The children love it,” explains Madhara. “I can read them new stories every day.” Madhara also uses the app to access health information, so he can educate his students on Ebola, HIV, and other essential subjects.

Madhara is also pursuing a Master’s Degree, which he claims would not be possible without Worldreader. “It’s the only place I can obtain the right information when I do research for my assignments.”

worldreader3Firefox Marketplace is thrilled to announce that this revolutionary literacy app is now available on our store. To learn a bit more about Worldreader, I spoke with Elizabeth Wood, Head of Mobile at Worldreader…

Is Worldereader content best suited for a particular age range?
Elizabeth Wood: Our current readers are primarily teens and adults, so most of our book titles are geared towards these two groups. We also learned in our research study with UNESCO, called Reading in the Mobile Era, that over 30% of Worldreader Mobile users are parents, teachers, and caregivers who use Worldreader Mobile to read to and with young children, so we also have a large collection of children’s titles.

Worldreader offers more than 15,000 e-books in 40+ languages, but can you give us a sense of proportion to which languages are best represented?
EW: Currently most of the book titles are in English. We also have 30-75 titles across each of more than 20 African languages including Kiswahili, Twi, Igbo, Zulu, Kinyarwanda, and others. We also have a dozen titles in Hindi and are adding more Indian languages. We have just added a few hundred titles in French, mainly classics, but are working on building out our French library.

worldreader1What literary genres primarily comprise your catalog?
EW: Because we want to provide each person access to the books they need and want to read, this means that our literary offering has to be vast and varied. Worldreader Mobile has over 70 categories—from romance to inspirational to fantasy to educational. Our most popular genres, though, across all geographies are: romance, education, self help/inspirational and religion, respectively.

In addition to offering free e-book content, in what other ways does Worldreader help promote literacy?
EW: Worldreader is on a mission to provide access to relevant and compelling digital books so that people can improve their lives. We promote reading and literacy through our mobile phone applications available to anyone, anywhere and through e-readers in schools and libraries in sub-Saharan Africa. We do this with the end goal of creating a world in which every child and her family have the books they need to improve their lives, the practice of reading is commonplace and where illiteracy is a thing of the past.

Beyond our mission, we are always seeking for ways to improve and provide quality service to our readers. For example, we are currently working on building features in our app to would drive engagement, such as offering rewards for reading more, completing collections of books, etc.  We also strive to offer a wide range of educational materials so that Worldreader Mobile becomes a go-to resource for students.

Friend of Marketplace: Ram Dayal Vaishnav

Amy Tsay

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IMG_0642Our newest Friend of Marketplace is Ram Dayal Vaishnav! Ram is a passionate evangelist and community-builder in India, who organized the first-ever regional Marketplace Day in May.

In addition to being a Mozilla Rep, he is an avid code contributor, app curation board member, a leader of the Mozilla India Task Force, and contributor to L10N, Webmaker, and SUMO.

When he’s not fixing bugs and hanging out in IRC well into the night, he enjoys playing piano and drums, mountaineering, and inventing things (he holds four patents).

Thanks to Ram for all his contributions to Firefox Marketplace!

A special mention to Atique Ahmed Ziad, and all the participants of Marketplace Day in Hyderabad, who rampaged through a bunch of bugs and are helping to shape our engagement with new contributors—thank you all!

Thanks also to everyone who contributed to Marketplace and AMO in May—your efforts are greatly appreciated.

The new contribution wiki for June is now available. Please check it for projects that might interest you, and to report your contributions.

Tappx Extends Free Marketing Service to Firefox OS App Developers

Scott DeVaney

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For developers, marketing your app is not… fun. And it can be expensive. It’s pretty much the last thing any app dev wants to do or think about. But it’s entirely necessary if you want to give your creation the best shot at success.

So I’ve got some good news! Tappx has extended their effective—and free—app marketing service to Firefox OS content. It works like this…

Tappx is essentially an ad exchange exclusive to app developers. You embed other app ads into your content, and likewise your app will be advertised within other apps. You scratch my app and I’ll scratch yours. More than 3,000 developers currently use Tappx. It’s the largest cross-promotion community for app developers anywhere.

If you’ve never dealt with producing your own display ads before, no worries. Tappx offers “automatic banner templates,” which means the Tappx system will automatically size your graphics to appropriate dimensions.

Better still, you can geo target and localize your banner ads in various languages. Then, a unique Tappx algorithm will place your app’s adverts in front of the most relevant audience based on content type (e.g. gaming). You can access a personal dashboard to track where your app’s being promoted and other general performance information.

The currency used to run ads within the community is called Tappix. One click to your app costs 500 Tappix (you get 1,000 Tappix just for signing up). Typically, new devs build a surplus of Tappix before launching a marketing campaign of their own.

It’s a super simple process to get started; it takes about 30 minutes to get your app into the Tappx system. Give it a go right here.

Color Harmony & Camera Apps—an Interview with the Creator of Coloroid Pro

Scott DeVaney

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Top left image is the original shot, followed by images generated with several of Coloroid Pro's harmonic filters.

Top left image is the original shot, followed by images generated with several of Coloroid Pro’s harmonic filters.

One of the finer camera filter apps on Firefox Marketplace just got a major update. Coloroid Pro now gives you the ability to harmonize color through precise adjustments to saturation, sharpness, contrast, and exposure levels. We spoke with Coloroid Pro’s creator, Marina Ibrishimova, about the math and mystery that come together when developing an advanced digital camera filter…

What distinguishes Coloroid Pro from other camera filter apps?
Marina Ibrishimova: In addition to offering fun photo filters and mobile photo adjustment options, Coloroid Pro aspires to be a tool for artists, graphic designers, and architects, and anybody else who is interested in color harmony or how different people perceive the same colors differently.

Coloroid Pro’s harmonic filters attempt to harmonize the colors within an image, or more specifically, to force an image into one of several different harmonic schemes. Images that fit within a harmonic scheme are generally more visually appealing. Coloroid Pro also has accessibility filters that approximate what images look like to people with different types of color vision deficiencies.

What were some of the most surprising things you learned while developing a camera app? 
MI: I was surprised to learn how hard color management is—no color ever looks exactly the same to anyone on any device!

I was also surprised to learn how easy it is to emulate effects that I thought were exclusively available for traditional film cameras. Coloroid Pro’s filter Infraredian emulates some of the effects typically seen in a developed Kodak HIE photograph, which are achieved as a result of the special properties of the physical film.

But most of all, I was surprised to learn the history of research on color harmony. Artists have been creating visually appealing masterpieces based on colors’ relative position to one another on the color wheel for centuries but it was surprising to find out that color harmony was also independently studied by mathematicians.

Moses Harris' famous 18th century graphic depicts how a range of colors are made from just three base colors.

Moses Harris’ famous 18th century graphic depicts how a range of colors are made from just three base colors.

Can you describe the relationship between mathematics and color harmony? 
MI: Scientific research into color harmony dates back to one of the world’s most famous applied mathematicians, Isaac Newton, and to discoveries into the physical nature of light and color in general. Unfortunately, Newton alone was not able to describe color harmony mathematically. It took a few centuries and a brand new way of representing reality, namely digital imaging, for mathematicians to start looking at color harmony again in an attempt to describe it universally.
 
In particular, as developments in the digital representation of images emerged over the last century, efforts to describe color harmony were focused on categorizing visually appealing color schemes based on the colors’ relative positions to one another within a color space. Statistical analysis and various physiological studies helped shape the boundaries for visually appealing color schemes also known as harmonic templates. 

Roughly speaking, most digital images today can be mathematically represented by a set of points, or pixels, where each pixel is represented by several integers. Typically, there are three integers each ranging from 0 to 255, and each representing one of three primary colors. (For example, the primary colors could be red, green, and blue, or some other primary colors depending on the color space; also a fourth integer may represent opacity, or a fourth primary color, and so on.) 

Using algebra this representation of each pixel described by some primary color values can be “flattened” to reveal three separate channels: one for hue, one for saturation, and one for brightness of the pixel. 

One of Ibrishimova's original paintings (left), followed by images generated with Coloroid Pro's accessibility filters that approximate what photos look like to people with different types of color vision impairments.

One of Ibrishimova’s original paintings (left), followed by images generated with Coloroid Pro’s accessibility filters that approximate what photos look like to people with different types of color vision impairments.


The algorithm currently used in Coloroid Pro for retrieving the hue of each pixel returns a floating point value in a range between 0 and 1 where the entire range represents all colors on the visible light spectrum that the average human can perceive (and mostly agree on) and smaller sections of the entire range represent individual hues.

Coloroid Pro’s color harmonization filter checks if a pixel’s hue value falls between a certain smaller predefined range within the spectrum to determine whether it fits into the chosen harmonic template and if it doesn’t, it converts this value to its complimentary value. For example, if a bad pixel’s hue value k is below 0.5 then its complimentary value becomes k + 0.5 or if k is above 0.5 then its complimentary value is k – 0.5.

This way of fitting an image within a color scheme by forcing the relative position of some of its pixels is the fastest way to harmonize an image that I can think of and it is the simplest way mathematically speaking but it is also the least subtle way and I’m currently working on making it better. Describing color harmony is still an open problem for both mathematicians and artists and there are no perfect solutions, but it is an exciting area of research.

What are your future hopes for Coloroid Pro, or camera apps in general?
MI: I hope to see Coloroid Pro become more useful. I will continue to improve the harmonic templates, and I hope to be able to collaborate with people from other disciplines who are interested in color harmony as well, whether they have some kind of an alternative color vision or not, in order to make a truly useful product for everyone.

More generally speaking, there are a lot of camera filter apps out there and all of them are great entertainment tools but I hope to see more camera apps solving big problems, even bigger than the one I’m trying to solve right now. For example, I hope to see a camera app that in addition to making your vacation photos brighter also warns you when you’ve had too much sun and helps you avoid a sun stroke. Or even a camera filter app that can identify early signs of certain diseases with pronounced physical symptoms. Of course, such developments also depend on developments in other fields, and on the collaboration of people across many disciplines in different parts of the world. 

Friend of Marketplace: Juan Pájaro Velásquez

Scott DeVaney

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juanPlease give a hearty congrats to our latest ‘Friend of Marketplace’—Juan Pájaro Velásquez!

Juan has been a key member of our App Curation Board since its inception more than seven months ago. In this function, Juan is tasked with helping to identify the best content on Firefox Marketplace. The apps that Juan and his Board peers deem feature worthy receive special promotion on Marketplace. Without their tireless work scouring a sea of content, there’s no way we could ever find the very best cat-themed games out there.

Juan consistently goes the extra mile to find great apps. If it weren’t for Juan, hundreds of thousands of users might have never discovered the remarkable camera apps Photofunia and Photography, or played the amazing selection of mini games in the Clay.io Games catalog, or been able to easily create text documents on their Firefox OS devices with Firetext. All of the these apps were Juan’s picks.

Here’s Juan in his own words on why he chooses to devote his time to curating apps for Marketplace users: “[Mozilla’s mission] is something I truly believe in—and I support technology made by everyone for everyone. So when I was asked to join the Curation Board I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ because I was already a Firefox OS user for more than a year and wanted to help others connect to this OS.”

Many thanks to Juan and everyone else who contributed to Marketplace in March! And if you’re interested in offering your talents to April’s tasks, please check out what’s happening.

Friend of Marketplace: Giovanny Gongora

Amy Tsay

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Congratulations to our newest Friend of Marketplace, Giovanny Gongora! Gio is a tireless and enthusiastic contributor who is always ready to tackle challenges and solve problems. In addition to having reviewed thousands of apps for Marketplace, he is a Mozilla Rep, member of Mozilla Hispano and Mozilla Colombia, a FirefoxOS launch team trainer, and L10N translator.

“I started to contribute to Mozilla since I was 15 years old, now I have a lot of friends from different parts of the world and I collaborate on projects I love and I want to support. Mozilla is the place where your voice is listened and let you be part of something big. Today Mozilla and the community are part of my life, a life that never will be the same.”

Thanks to Gio for all his contributions!

Thanks also to everyone who contributed to Marketplace and AMO in February—lots of people participated, and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

The new contribution wiki for March is now available. Please check it for projects that might interest you, and to report any of your contributions.