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Helios (helios.io)
586 points by olivercameron on Apr 2, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments

I swear, Mattt must code for 40 hours a day. The sheer quantity (and quality!) of his ships is mind-boggling.

This looks fantastic, I'll definitely be checking this out!

After reading the first two paragraphs I thought that this has to be mattt! The man is a machine.

Same. I think I've read every post in NSHipster at least twice.

I don't know how Apple didn't hired this guy yet. He should've been running the iCloud and Framework teams!

His latest work on NSHipster is great too:


Helios is also the moniker of a very "cloud-like" (ambient) composer named Keith Kenniff. His music is excellent for coding when you need that superior downtempo thinking background noise.

My favorite album: https://soundcloud.com/_type/sets/helios-eingya

His soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/keithkenniff

While we're discussing him, it's worth checking out another project of his, Goldmund. It's piano centric music that really embraces the minimalist aspects of some of the newer neo-classical artists (think Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter, Nils Frahm or Dustin O'Halloran).

A lot of the music is on Spotify, and here's a link to a set of it on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/keithkenniff/sets/goldmund

I had no idea Helios is also Goldmund. The sound is so different. I found them both on Spotify.

I thought the same thing when I saw this. Even if you haven't heard of Helios you've probably heard Keith's music on TV or online. The website for his film, tv, and ad work is http://www.unseen-music.com/

Just listened to this. If you like this kind of ambient music then I recommend you take a look at the works by Geotic.


Tried it, liked it, donated. Thanks! (also emailed him to tell him about a few broken links to his album downloads)

This is basically a combination of these four gems:

That is why codebase looks very clean and simple.

That amounts to saying mattt is a machine because mattt is a machine. Building on the shoulders of... himself!

Off topic: The ultra light custom fonts a lot of websites use nowadays (looks like "Bariol" on this site), do they look bad to anyone other than me? Both in Firefox and Opera (Linux) many of the lines are invisible or barely visible (example: http://i.imgur.com/Yk0Q83G.png ). In Chrome they look a little bit better.

On my iPad all the letter 'D's have disappeared. It's quite disconcerting.

Same on my iPhone, all the 'd' characters don't show up properly at all. Had to read the article zoomed right up so that the spider thin d characters were visible at all. Please change the font.

I was wondering the same. Waiting for Browsershots to render the page in different browsers:


Looks great in Mac OS.

In my experience, the issues w/ thin font weights tend to be worse on Windows & Linux. Worth keeping in mind if you're using these fonts (particularly if you're using some of the free fonts from Google Web Fonts that aren't necessarily well-hinted)

Here's firefox on linux. http://imgur.com/YqtBUR4 You might want to change the hinting on your fonts. I've set it to "slight".

Looks like your browser isn't properly doing sub-pixel anti-aliasing.

I'm impressed that the name includes the substring "iOS".

Neat, I already use mattt's CLI tool for interfacing with the Apple dev site: https://github.com/mattt/cupertino

Wow, this is amazing! My least favorite part of iOS dev is visiting the horrendous dev portal. Thanks for the link.

Cool, didn't even know about that one. Installed, thanks!

Really cool! I hated that website. Thanks

I havn't done enough iOS to really speak intelligently about it, but this looks like a great place to start without limiting flexibility.

Although "an extensible open-source mobile backend framework" seems to say that it also applies to non iOS, it doesn't seem that it does. Is it more suited for iOS, or iOS only?

Many services that Helios provides are either iOS specific backend integrations (Push Notifications & Store Kit transaction verifications) or has client-side components (A/B testing, better client-side networking libraries)

Just FYI, Helios Software Solutions in England is the maker of the longstanding and widely distributed TextPad text editor for Windows. In case this would present a potential name conflict. (I don't know -- just mentioning.)



I don't get the impression that these projects are at risk of being mentioned in the same scope.

This looks awesome - a Parse.com you can deploy yourself!

Also check this one out then, similar but with no mobile client SDK (other than a javascript): http://deployd.com

I've been thinking that Parse (and StackMob, Kinvey et al) need to provide a similar self-deployable solution at a reasonable price; this might be the motivation they need to do so.

This might cannibalise their business model in such an undeveloped market, they are all about lock in currently. There is definitely space in the market for an open source based MBaaS/BaaS that allows you to roll your own or use their hosted version.

Wow, Thank you SO MUCH!

Admittedly, this is one of the best things that ever happened to open source w.r.t mobile development in the last few months!

I've been debating using something like Parse or Azure as a backend, and this looks like a nice alternative as I'm usually a roll-your-own-solution kinda guy.

But I worry about how it would hold up in terms of performance, given this recent benchmarking fest featured on HN. http://www.techempower.com/blog/2013/03/28/framework-benchma...

It depends on the number of transactions you are likely to see on your system. I love ruby, but there are areas where it begins to fall down.

Really looking forward to trying this out, owning your data definitely goes a long way.

This is really great.

A massive limitation of Parse.com is with their Javascript SDK - you have to expose your app keys to the client and the SDK doesn't work at all on any version of IE unless you have SSL enabled.

1) There are Access Control Lists which should help with that. Also, note that Parse gives you a Javascript key which is separate from your master key. Though I'm a longtime Parse user, I have not spent much time with the JS SDK on the client (as opposed to Cloud Code, where no keys are exposed), so I can't really say that this just "solves the problem."

2) Wouldn't any similarly-situated Javascript library face the same problems, with Access Control Lists probably being the most practical solution?

3) Moreover, with any mobile backend, you must assume that the keys that ship within the code of your native app will be public. So you should be using Access Control Lists if you're using the iOS SDK, for example.

I've recently been working on a Node backend for IAP verification and providing signed S3 URLs for downloadable content - something like this would have halved the time it took. Good work Matt!

Interesting – I'm thinking about implementing something just like that right now. Did you find good resources about this?

Why would they name their application Helios? It collides with Eclipse.

Good to see some potential (and OSS!) competition for Parse :)

NICE!!! So much better than parse

This is really nice. Huge time saver for apps that only need a basic backend for certain functionalities.

Can this potentially also work for other mobile platforms?

It is a great start. The passbook implementation looks to be basic right now. I would love to be able to combine this with https://github.com/frozon/passbook for passbook support and git@github.com:grocer/grocer.git for push notifications.

The code would have better test coverage and more people to support the project.

Not to rain on the parade, but I just got started with ios and I gave up on getting AFIncrementalStore to work properly. RestKit looks much more solid to me. Can any actual ios developers (e.g. someone with more than 14 days of experience) comment on that?

It's really awesome to see Heroku getting into the mobile BaaS industry. I think they have a lot of expertise that they can lend and I'm even more excited that the project is open source, free, and deployable. Looking forward to using this!

Saw Mattt and his Helios project at Paris.rb meetup yesterday evening. Quite interesting :)

I wondered in the subway while coming back home if Helios helps to sync backend-made changes to the app through push notifications, in an automagically fashion.

Mobile backends is definitely a hot topic nowadays and this is one of the greatest contributions. A small part of me wishes it was a more "Pythonic" though.. :)

This looks wonderful, thanks for all the hard work! I hope this expands to encompass other platforms and languages.

Does this specifically cater to iOS or can it act as a more general-purpose backend service like Parse.com?

Guyz Do we have something similar for Django ? Or maybe a template of pre-written code for Tastypie ??

android support coming?

How do they put the rocket in the title like that?

It's a Unicode character (U+1F680).

Can't wait to integrated clients with RubyMotion

Is there any similar product for Clojure?



good job, i want to try it

Wow, iOS only when Android is 75% shipping smartphones?

You should totally submit a pull request adding Android support!

MixPanel reports 60% iOS vs 40% Android split when actual app usage comes into the mix. Probably why backend frameworks specialize in iOS first.

is really hard to release a new product running for both environments in the first try. Give it some time for android.

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