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Show HN: Instantly create a secure URL to your Mac (emporter.app)
67 points by youngdynasty 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments

I have no idea what this product does.

> Instantly create a secure URL to your Mac

OK so like a URL to... what? Screenshare? Access the HDD like dropbox? Do something else?

> Make changes in real time. Get feedback immediately. Effortless live previews.

Of what? About what? Of what?

> Nice cartoon picture of dog

/closes tab

Edit: reading the rest of the page it's still unclear what it does, or even why I'd want it. I guess I'm not the target audience?

I had to look into the meta tags to get a better description: `<meta property="og:description" content="Effortless live publishing for web developers">`

so I guess the target audience is developers who do not know how to configure a web server, setup proxies or other means of testing webhooks maybe? maybe there is a market for a product like this but obviously I would not be target audience either...

I work for a small company and do lots of work that would be nice to just share with my boss through a service like this versus having to deploy. I think it's more for a testbed than a replacement for actual web servers.

SSH remote port forwarding is your friend. You just need an ssh server somewhere thats publicly accessible.

Hence this service which would appear to be much easier than setting up a persistent remote ssh server with port forwarding.

Check out ngrok. It's absolutely brilliant for what you're describing.

I remember doing it before from my macbook. I'm not sure if that's a feature or not in os x anymore?

I went through the entire FAQ to try to figure this out. Best I can tell, it's a port forwarder so you can serve content from a firewalled Mac over the public internet.

Exactly this! So much focus on dog drawings and no clear word on what the product does!

It was easy in one paragraph for me to tell what it does. Both the comments above seem like old people yelling "get off my lawn"

Count me in with the old folks. I can't tell what this is. I read not only the home page, but the features and faq pages also. I can guess a bit, but it's still fuzzy.

yep... this is why programmers make _the worst_ marketers. they market like they code... they think everyone who comes to their site can read their minds so they forgot that they need explain clearly what their product does.

> explain clearly what their product does

Before they even do that they should explain what it is for!

Thanks for the feedback!

I was indeed trying to explain something technical (i.e. a tunneling service) in a non-technical way in an attempt to be friendly towards designers, but it seems like I still have some work to do on the product page.

Try describing the process, that's usually what I look for at least when I'm looking at products/services/apps (I'm a designer). Briefly walk through how you can create a folder, throw files in, forward a domain/port, and then it's public. The best product pages I've seen offer a short brief like your current site does, but then also offers the very detailed technical bits behind a "read more" button or accordion. Best of both worlds that way I think.

Thanks for your suggestion! I was hoping to perhaps put together a short video to show it off in action (it really is quite simple).

That said, it might actually be easier for me to use the "accordion" approach, as you suggested, My video editing skills are pretty limited and this is currently a side project of mine that's completely bootstrapped.

I guessed what it did before even clicking the link, I would take this clap trap with a grain of salt - EDIT should note I actually use ngrok a lot for this so it clicked to me immediately - oh, ngrok with an app ui. I installed it as well. Long story short, your target audience will know what's up.

Thanks for your positive input. HN can be brutal, but I have gotten some great feedback, even if it was hard to hear.

I often hear people proudly say, “I’m not technical...” but this is an anachronism. We live in a technical world now. If you’re not technical, you’re a dinosaur and you might as well die off. There’s no point pandering to dinosaurs.

The way you wrote your product page and app description is fascinating not because it was so oblique as to be completely meaningless, but because you appear to have been so thoroughly unaware of that fact.

This is an extremely common problem with technical documentation. We find pages and pages of description of frameworks and libraries created without simply answering the fundamental question, “What does this do?” And those pages could be easily replaced with one brief annotated example.

Technical people are often unaware that they have created a desert of meaning and substance.

> There’s no point pandering to dinosaurs.

Err, yes there is, if they are willing to pay you money to simplify something they don't understand.

I agree that if you're not technical you're a dinosaur, but it turns out a good number of dinosaurs are still out there and they have money to spend. So why not cater to them while they're around?

These people may not be your target audience.

Your product page made sense to me and might also make sense if your customers are web and mobile web developers

So maybe a replacement for the Back to My Mac feature that was removed (or is no longer supported) in Mojave?


Am I the only one bothered by these apps/saas that hide their pricing?

>> No Subscription Required

>> The core version of Emporter is free.


>> Subscriptions are offered to provide faster speeds, custom URL names, multiple sessions, and super good vibes.

This totally sucks and I'm always choosing the service that will clearly show me what their service costs, even if it might be more expensive than the other.

I have to deal with this "contact us and we will make you an offer"-thing everyday at work. It's stupid. Either your product costs a fixed amount per GB/user/whatever or you are trying to screw me over the price.

From their mac store page

> Subscriptions provide faster speeds, customized URL names and multiple sessions.

• Monthly Subscription: 3 day free trial, then €5.99 a month • Yearly Subscription: 7 day free trial, then €59.99 a year (15% off!)

A bit expensive for what localtunnel provides for free, no?

Seems on par with what ngrok charges? Of course I could set it all up myself but the $60/year or whatever is cheap enough for me to let someone else handle it.

Why bother with the .99? Why not just charge €6 / €5 - the .99 gambit is, IMHO trivially deceptive and - speaking for myself - if I am presented two purchase / subscription choices that are approximately equal, I will usually choose the product that acknowledges the fact that I am capable of rounding in my head.

How can the free trials be different lengths depending on what paid package you choose?

Good question. This obviously isn't well thought out. Why not just do the annual trial for 7 days? Would they seriously not let you sign up for monthly plan after because of that?

Thanks for your feedback... why not indeed? I've updated it within product page (and In-App Purchases). It'll probably take a little bit for the description in the App Store to update, though.

>Subscriptions are €5.99/month, or €4.99/month if choose a yearly subscription. Both are free to try for a week.

The pricing is not hidden. Just click "subscription" and there it is.

edit Looks like OP updated the product page. Sounds like you made a good suggestion then. :)

I like it because I can quickly rule it out of being something I will try instead of wasting my time.

Thanks for the feedback, that makes a lot of sense. I'll be more clear about pricing on the main page.

If you don't want to install any third-party apps, you can do much the same by spinning up an AWS box and using SSH remote port forwarding

   ssh -NT -R 0:localhost:80 youraccount@yourbox.amazonaws.com
I also do an extra step and put an nginx proxy in front to translate hostnames into correct port numbers, but that's optional.

Same, with Apache. We leave our reverse proxy up 24/7. Relevant Apache config:

    RewriteEngine on

    RewriteCond %{HTTP:Upgrade} =websocket [NC]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^([^\.]*).*$ [NC]
    RewriteRule /(.*) ws://localhost:%1/$1 [P,L]

    RewriteCond %{HTTP:Upgrade} !=websocket [NC]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^([^\.]*).*$ [NC]
    RewriteRule /(.*) http://localhost:%1/$1 [P,L]

    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^([^\.]*).*$ [NC]
    RewriteRule ^ - [E=TUNNEL_PORT:$1]
    ProxyPassInterpolateEnv On
    ProxyPassReverse "/" "http://localhost:${TUNNEL_PORT}/" interpolate
This reverse proxies something like https://12345.example.com to http://localhost:12345, which is forwarded back to the dev machine (typically port 80 or 3000). When a local server is spun up, our tooling automatically sets up the remote port forwarding and appropriately configures the local instance based on an environment variable. For a pre-seed startup, this results in considerable cost savings w.r.t. ngrok's pricing.

Highly doubtful that I would ever buy any software sold on a monthly subscription basis. The best parts of my life have been a result of avoiding being tied to monthly fees. Without them, you are free to travel and move about at will.

Monthly fees are a ball and chain thought up by corporations to create modern slaves. Psychological and, to some extent, physical captivity.

The problem is not really subscriptions, it's being able to enter and leave a subscription without hassle, something that is increasingly difficult these days. If you're paying for an ongoing service, then it makes sense to pay a monthly fee. But if you're paying for an app and don't expect significant long-term upgrades, then yes, a one-time purchase makes sense.

In theory, iOS implements this well by allowing you to unsubscribe with one click. In practice, it's a terrible UX. Just try finding the subscriptions page in Settings and you'll see what I mean.

> Monthly fees are a ball and chain thought up by corporations to create modern slaves.

Hyperbole much?

This service has ongoing costs - they have a server which you need to connect to in order to tunnel to the outside world. So a monthly charge makes 100% more sense than a one-off charge. In fact, a monthly charge is better for everyone, because it ensures their service will be around in perpetuity, rather than shutting down once the stream of new purchases stops.

> The best parts of my life have been a result of avoiding being tied to monthly fees. Without them, you are free to travel and move about at will.

They are monthly. You are free to travel and move about at will at a month's notice. It's not exactly a life-crushing limitation.

How is it different from ngrok [1]?

[1]: https://ngrok.com/

It's marketed to mac users, and given the GUI, to the sub-segment of mac users who don't use command line tools.

The same product can be sold to many different demographics through different channels.

From a cursory glance, I would say one thing is that there’s a GUI for it. Some people are afraid of opening a terminal.

Totally. I was thinking about designers when writing the interface and product page.



- Cross platform support

- request inspection support

- non-http tunnel support(unclear, docs/faq is terrible)

* How is that different from ngrok (https://ngrok.com/)? * If you target Mac developers, the first thing is to provide a Homebrew recipe IMHO

Yeah, I'm not sure why I'd use this over ngrok? Maybe if you're non technical, but this is aimed at web designers... Seems like they have the wrong target user to me.

Just a note that a lot of enterprises will likely block this app for security issues - my workplace is fairly open (file sharing services are allowed) but blocks ngrok.

Hey, thanks for your feedback.

One of the biggest reasons that I decided to distribute on the Mac App Store was to establish trust. If I embraced its limitations (i.e. sandboxing), it'd help me build a product that was more secure and have some sort of proof that it was.

Also, the company (me) behind the app is based in France, which has some of the toughest privacy laws. The privacy policy, although in English, is compliant with French law. The short version is that Emporter doesn't collect user data, or perhaps most importantly, user content.

I have quite a lot I want to discuss about this via the company blog, which ironically is part of the reason I decided to post a "Show HN". I wanted contextualize the product a little bit before inviting this kind of discussion.

The hidden pricing is a tab-closer for me. I’m just not going to play that game when it is not even clear what the app does.

Thanks for your feedback! I can definitely see why that's a deal breaker. Admittedly, I just thought people would be stoked that it was free to use and download it.

But here's the thing: if I really like it, and you have any business sense whatsoever, then I'm going to want a subscription. But if I don't know up front what that subscription is going to cost, then I'm not going to bother to download an app, figure out how it works, get really into it, and then find out that the functionality I'm going to want long-term is $895/year.

It also makes me think you're not telling me for a reason. I guess I've purchased too much "enterprise" software over the years. :-)

I've updated the main page to include pricing. Thanks again.

I'm building my first web app right now, and understood what this did just by reading the title of the post. Many people building web apps will understand what you mean. It can't hurt to compare it against existing tech that does similar things though.

If you don't need extremely high speed, this is really easy to do with a Tor onion service. Granted the client needs to be a Tor browser, but there are benefits to not having to deal with these third party services.

Love this app!

Username is new, is this really a show hn or an ad

There's no rule that says that people new to HN can't do a Show HN.

I admit, I'm usually a lurker :)

I have a few other things that I'm looking forward to sharing, though. I just started with this because it will hopefully contextualize some of the other content.

Looks really cool, however the Mac store requirement is no a go...

Why is the Mac store a no go?

iirc its the 30% cut they take from developers, some folks are really against it and vow to boycott. I'm sure there's plenty of other reasons but thats the first that comes to mind

If the developer looked at the trade offs between using the Mac App Store and decided to use it anyway, why should the customer care?

I would think just the opposite, I would be more inclined to use the App Store that already has my payment information on file than pay an unknown developer directly.

What's the reasoning behind adding saliva to the dog's tongue on the principal image of the landing page?

It is so jarring and out of place that it's basically all I see there.

I have exactly one application installed from the Mac Store and that's ironically Microsoft Remote Desktop viewer. This will not be my second one.

Thanks for that deep insight.

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