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Show HN: My iPad Hacker News Client, Hacker News Paper (hackernewspaper.com)
38 points by sammcd on Nov 21, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments

It is truly unfortunate that this app so closely resembles Giles’ work. In hindsight, everything seems obvious: “Hacker News... As a Newspaper.” Yet nobody did it before Giles, and now somebody else has done it after Giles.

It reminds me of the talk about how obvious the iPhone UI is, such that Google wasn’t copying iPhone but just proceeding along “obvious” lines. Yet, it seems that they were busy proceeding along the obvious line of imitating Blackberry until the iPhone became a hit, then they were proceeding along the obvious line of imitating an iPhone.

The author of this work seems to be saying that he did this entirely independently. I am prepared to accept his word for that, which is why I use the word “unfortunate.” There are so many truly new and novel things to invent, it is a great shame that two smart people put work into inventing the same thing instead of giving birth to two different ideas.

Considering Hacker News is a developer heavy crowd, I'm surprised a second and third version hasn't come up. I've wanted to develop the same thing myself just to learn how to build an iPad app. And I'm sure my other ideas for creating different views of Hacker News are nothing special.

It's all about execution. I've seen the other one before and considering the basic style of it (newspaper page with multiple articles layout), it wasn't pretty enough to make me want to install. I really like the look of this app and look forward to trying it out.

Also, kudos for him getting the domain. I figured it would have been taken already.

I disagree, but I'm not going to dis anybody for being too generous, too trusting, or too fair, and I appreciate your attempt to smooth the waters.

Thanks, just downloaded! My 2 cents:

0. Nice minimalism.

1. The main body typeface is needlessly hard to read (words have weird kerning with some letters sticking together a lot). I strongly think that the body font should be as readable as possible, simply since it is going to be read a lot! Pick the most readable font out there (or maybe the second most readable).

2. The "Return" button is hard to tap when holding the iPad in both hands. iBooks solves this problem by having the entire left edge tappable; not sure what would work best in this app.

3. Are you familiar with the Flipboard for iPad? (you probably are). I think it is beyond awesome. All magazine/web mobile apps should learn from that app.

4. That every article pops out from the bottom edge of the screen (UIModalTransitionStyleCoverVertical ?) gets annoying after a while. The animation where the whole screen whizzes by from the bottom up every time you tap is more tolerable on a smaller screen like the iPhone. I would rather prefer an animation with a "zoom" effect with the article expanding from its location in the grid to the entire screen; or maybe something else you can think of.

5. It is annoying that comments have to be shown in a browser window which takes a while to load.

This list is one of the first list that seems to really coincide with the things that bother me about the app.

I do like the idea of making the left side tappable, and I really do want to change my animation and hope to get time to fix that soon.

Just so you know when viewing a story you can tap the headline to go back. This feature was mostly added for myself, I hope to get a designer to design me something that communicates returning to the front page better than my current methods.

I can tell you've done some iOS work cause you can see some of the shortcuts I took to ship this on time. I hope to fix these soon :)

Congrats on the launch. Unfortunately you've chosen to name your app the same thing Giles very similar app from 2009 is named.

I truly believe that the onus is on you to Google the name you want to use before you launch. Heck, just to make sure there isn't competition - much less something with the same name. That isn't good for either of you.

Perhaps you should strongly consider changing the name of your application.

first of all, great work. I really like the the presentation, something different. I've got a few issues with the app though:

- It's hard to flip pages, I opened articles often when I tried to flip one. Seems the gesture recognition needs some refinement

- I don't like the font and the header. I think it looks a bit cheap. At least the font in the sub-headline could look nicer.

- Get rid of those standard rounded rect-buttons in the article view. Doesn't need too much effort to style them a bit, and it makes a huge difference.

Thanks for this app, well spent money :-)

Thanks a lot for your feedback!

The gestures, better fonts, and buttons are three things that are already high on my list to fix, but its really good to hear it from someone else. Be looking for an update shortly.

Thanks for the code. Gave it a spin but found the fonts a little too jarring, especially the main font. There needs to be more contrast too. I know you're trying to imitate an actual newspaper, but perhaps play a little more with the hues of gray? Right now it all seems a blur to me.

Thanks for the feedback.

In the next version I will definitely try to do something to make it look a little cleaner.

Nice work! I'm using the app right now to add this comment. I agree with all the feedback so far, but it's still worth the money even in its current state.

Thanks a lot!

Get real, its all about the implementation and execution, although I have not seen the but seems like (from comments) the guy did a good job in execution and action.

We all have ton's of ideas, techcrunch can be newspaper like, mashable can be magazine like, its all your execution with little bit pinch of idea.

If you prefer a free (and high-quality) app, check out this one:


We seem to be having different metrics for 'high-quality'. The first screenshot of the iPad version in the App Store is a list of 24 elements in a small font. I think the developer is missing the point.

Thanks - I've used - 3HLAMPWWE3X6. I'll test and provide a review in a bit.

Really like the app.

I echo what was said before, don't like the header. I get what you're trying to do with newspaper, though a cleaner font would work better. Look at the UK gaurdian app in newsstand for inspiration.

I would also suggest images in the article though again it may take away from the newspaper feel.

The flipping doesn't always work, it opens an article on the odd flip try.

I would love to see:

- Instapaper integration - Pull in the comments if possible - isn't that what makes HN,Hn? - Bookmarking - New threads instead of just front page - Number of comments so far - A very light tint of colour on the buttons, 10% blue?

All in all great experience, with a tweaks this could be a winner!

Thanks a lot for your feedback.

Like I've already commented its great to hear from you and see which of the features I think are important are also important to people who have tried the app.

+1 for Instapaper integration.

Thanks a lot for checking out my app. Here are a few promo codes for anyone interested.






Codes are all used.

Thanks for letting me know, here are a few more:






HJR9N3AKN6XA JKLPNAF7L3YN were used already.



used K47EP4FFK7PY


used LAKJ99K6RFNY. cheers

What percentage of the profits are you giving "iamgilesbowkett" since you've created a facsimile of his idea from 2009?

Yes, how dare two different people both have the same idea of applying a newspaper theme to a web site.

"Applying a newspaper theme" implies less than the outright copying of a name, style, and functionality.

While "outright copying" implies far more than what is actually present.

Thanks a lot!

A) is http://hacker-newspaper.gilesb.com in there?

B) I used to curate a pretty large list of Hacker News mashups that you might get some mileage out of: http://gilesbowkett.blogspot.com/2009/11/hacker-news-mashups...

Is iOS 5 really necessary? I didn't upgrade yet because of my jailbreak, so I can't use the app :-/

Currently it is because of the page view controller, but I'm thinking about dropping that in the future. I'll definitely being iOS 5 only at that point.


This is a blatant copy of my web app Hacker Newspaper.


I understand that it is frustrating to you to feel that someone may have been inspired by some aspects of your project. However, I think it's important to consider a few things for perspective:

1. Your web app is close to, if not already, dead: http://gilesbowkett.blogspot.com/2011/03/i-may-let-hacker-ne...

2. So what if this guy was inspired by your app? Who doesn't do research before implementing an idea?

3. Your most persuasive evidence--the header font--appears to be the most unpopular aspect of the app, judging by the comments, and so will probably be changed shortly, anyway.

4. The developer is not in direct competition with your project, as he didn't even code it for the same platform (yes, an iPad can browse the web, but yours was not, specifically, an iPad app).

The app is not at all dead, and I use it on the iPad far more often than on my computers. If you're curious enough to search my site for Hacker Newspaper, you must have also noticed the numerous minor tweaks and updates to Hacker Newspaper I've made since that post where I briefly considered dropping it over six months ago.

Additionally, my most persuasive evidence is not my header graphic, it's just an extremely specific example. My most persuasive evidence is that every single aspect of his app is a direct copy of mine.

Well maybe you're right. Since the author openly offered his contact information, maybe the best way to resolve the situation is to discuss the matter with him directly and privately. I wish you both success.

A newspaperish grid layout hardly seems like something that's unique enough to go around accusing someone of ripping it off from you. Or did you rip off the New York Times et al?

Newspaper grid layout, downloads the text of the stories, he even used a very similar font in his header graphic to the font in my header graphic -- and the font in my header graphic was a whimsical indulgence because it doesn't really look like a newspaper header font at all. The New York Times and many, many other papers use heavy gothic fonts for their names, and I think that if he got the design from there, he would have done the same.

So your rather harsh accusation of ripoff boils down to:

* Use of a certain layout style which is literally centuries old.

* Prefetching content, an extremely common practice in computing.

* A similar font.

I think you need to seriously reexamine the originality of your work.

If you want to accuse someone of plagiarism, you're going need a hell of a lot more evidence than "the font looks a bit similar".

Here's the deal: Create something better than he does, and people use your version. If he creates something better than you do, people use his version. All copying allowed. How about that?

There was someone on here a while ago that was concerned that someone stole his app a safe a 'pro' version without ads. The advice you give here is essentially the same advice they got.

If someone rips you off, improve on it and have the better product. It's too bad that your apps are so similar -- but the concept, layout and elements are old-hat. If he ripped you off on purpose I highly doubt he'd be eager about the HN community finding out about it.

Your web app is a blatant copy of paper publishing that's been going on for decades. Get real, dude.

It's got the same name, dude, and the same feature set.

I mean... it's a newspaper format. There are only so many ways to implement that. Besides, the iPad app and the webapp look fairly different IMO.

As for the name, seems to me "hacker news paper" is a fairly obvious name to arrive at.

Not knocking your webapp. Just saying there really isn't an issue here.

Consider for a moment the cultural environment you're trying to make this argument in. I truly believe that many many programmers have cognitive dissonance around intellectual property, perceived value of invention/innovation, and what their compensation and rights should be around that value.

In the hacker news crowd, I think it is significantly more present.

I don't recall your opinions on these topics, but prepare to be faced with some pretty intense logical fallacies today.

Feel free to email me at sam@sammcd.com if you would like to discuss this more.

I just want to say that I did not use your app as a source at all when designing my app, but I did use newspapers.

If this is the case, why did you not use a gothic, New York Times-y font for your header graphic, such as is much, much more typical for newspapers than the font you did use? Why does your header graphic appear to be nearly identical to mine? Why is your functionality nearly identical to mine? It's just a massive coincidence?

I simply went to http://www.dafont.com/ and searched until I found a font I liked, thats all that happened here.

How many unique visitors do you get per day?

It's how I generally read HN.

HNP is a popular if niche app.

Meanwhile, it doesn't make a whit of difference to the larger issue.

If he's getting 1000s of unique visitors per day, then I can understand his desire to cry fowl, if he's getting more like 10 per day, then he has nothing to complain about. There really is no larger issue here, only someone yelling "First!".

What are you basing these metrics on?

If I have 800 daily unique users of something I put real work into, and someone launches a very similar product with the same name then I have every right to ask them to consider a name change.

The OP needs to start off with an apology because in the very least he did not Google his own name and concept before launching. That's awkwardly gauche in my books.


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