One of my favourite things about App.net, apart from its fantastic user core, is its wide open API. The folks at ADN are genuinely interested in ensuring that third-party developers can make great products using the site’s features, and sometimes, there are apps that come along that are so genuinely interesting they make me question how I ever doubted the social network in the first place.
One of the other great features of ADN lies in its storage capabilities. Each free account gets 500MB of storage with a 10MB file-size limit, while each paid account gets 10GB of storage with a 100MB file-size limit. I think that even the free account’s offering is really generous. Combine ADN’s open API with its storage capabilities, and you end up with ingenious little Mac gems like Swing.
What Is Swing?
Swing is an app that lives in your Mac’s menubar. Click and drag a file onto it and Swing will upload it to ADN and copy the file’s URL for sharing directly to your clipboard. Because it sits in your ADN storage, you get access to all 10GB (or 500MB) of storage in your account. It’s important to note that this is more like Droplr than it is Dropbox; you can’t gain access to all of the files stored in your ADN account, but you can upload to it.
Furthermore, you can share your uploaded file anywhere. The link isn’t married to App.net. If you want to share a file with a colleague, but don’t want to worry about attaching it in an email, you can just click and drag the file onto Swing and then paste the resulting URL straight into the email. (Again, people who use Droplr or CloudApp will already be familiar with this mechanism.)
You might be wondering why you would want to use Swing, then, over Droplr or CloudApp if you already use either of those services. To put it bluntly, ADN’s Terms of Service protect your documents. They don’t own them and they aren’t going to do anything with them. Droplr and CloudApp don’t function in quite the same manner. The bottom line is simple: When it comes to protecting your data, Swing and App.net offer you more peace of mind.
Some Details About That URL
Swing’s URLs are public, but because of their complete and utter complexity, it’s highly unlikely that anybody could find it unless you shared it with them. Let me give you an example. I’ve uploaded a résumé of mine (a .doc file) and Swing returned the following URL to me: https://files.app.net/1/99636/a49coEC8pqbln0EldoiwwYTH2bzL37uaHYaQJuvPDCoPgyOzuNishRDhZBxyTHgq_CUZKx9dlFu61iGZIBKKzsR2bKNPvFo3n1BGdKkUuGwXMYZz1jAGP3MUbphDfdBmOxjR-tV1IrkkekOZFhuJ6_fkfoq4RqcjcOUQGVWfzW_A3X_hyvfh4l-dK-mq2fqZC
Try guessing that one.
Swing does offer a handy URL shortener though. Their variation on it is swng.it, which is actually kind of catchy. When you enable it, it will quickly check to see if you’ve uploaded any documents with Swing already and ask if you’d like their URLs shortened. I said I would, and now my résumé is accessible via this URL instead: http://swng.it/HHyFx
What Design Details Make Swing Better Than the Competition?
Swing also presents a list of all the files you’ve copied to the clipboard, which is labelled All Swings. From there, you can choose to copy the URL for an older file, or you can delete files you’ve uploaded with Swing. Swing doesn’t provide access to every file you’ve ever uploaded to ADN (if you’re looking for that, give FileBase a try), but it does give access to every file you’ve ever uploaded to it.
In a smart move, if you have two Macs, Swing keeps track of all your uploaded files on both Macs. It’s not Mac-dependent, so if you use a Mac at work and a Mac at home you’re good to go. And because it’s sold on the Mac App Store, purchasing Swing and keeping it updated on both Macs is always easy.
There are a couple other nifty features. You can set up a keyboard shortcut to upload anything on your clipboard to Swing. If I was to copy the text in this document and then hit a defined keyboard combination of my own choosing, I’d upload all of the text onto Swing for easy sharing. This would also apply to anything like copying a picture from Google Image Search.
Finally, uploading a folder with Swing is great because Swing automatically compresses the folder to a .zip. Your folder is still easily opened on any computer, but it takes up a lot less space in your ADN storage.
Room for Improvement
There are some other really handy features in the app, but not all of these features are implemented perfectly right off the bat. For example, Swing allows you to automatically upload any screenshots you take with your Mac for sharing. There’s a lot of potential for this, and it generally works. That being said, there is a huge flaw. If you’re a power user and you have an app that automatically renames or reorganizes screenshots as you take them, Swing won’t recognize them and they’ll fail to automatically upload. The developer is working on a fix, and I don’t think this is going to be a permanent issue (nor should it deter you from picking up the app).
There is one other change I’d like to see in the app. Swing supports multiple ADN accounts, which I think is fantastic. But if you want to switch accounts, you have to open Swing’s Preferences menu and double-click on the account you’d like to use. Ideally, I’d like to be able to click on an account’s avatar in Swing’s menu bar or set a user-defined keyboard shortcut to cycle through accounts. I know this won’t apply to anybody (how many people have more than one account for ADN?), but for those of us that do, it’s a big feature.
Become a Swingster
The guys behind Swing affectionately call the people who use their app “Swingsters.” I have no problem heartily recommending you join our ranks. I’ve been using Swing for the past week and think it’s another fantastic example of the possibilities with App.net. If you’re on ADN, you need to Swing.