Loving This: Instapaper

Quick post on an app I think you will love – Instapaper.  I use it on iPad, but there are versions for mobile handsets. Like most great apps, it provides seemingly simple functionality really well.  And it utilizes today’s cloud architectures to seamlessly deliver the service.

Instapaper allows you to efficiently compile your “read later” material in one “newspaper” completely assembled by you during your web travels.  If you’re like me, people send you stuff to read all the time.  And you bump into stuff you want to read, but at inopportune times (aka as 5,000 other higher priority To-Dos on your plate).  But how do you keep track of your to-read pile?  Enter Instapaper.

How does it work?  Create an account at Instapaper.com.  Install the iPad app.  Configure your browser’s tool bars with the Instapaper “Read Later” button.  When your browser takes you to your next read-later article, just click the Read Later button.  The article is saved to the Instapaper server.  When you launch the app on the iPad, you will find the article, nicely formatted, stripped of the original surrounding page noise, and ready for efficient reading.  Added bonus – you can read the articles off line if you sync the mobile app with the server.  Simple to use, cleanly implemented, cloud architected.

For those with a technical disposition, Instapaper was built using PHP 5 with a custom high-performance MVC framework, MySQL, Memcache, Apache, and CentOS, on high-end dedicated hardware.  Instapaper’s creator, Marco Arment describes the advantages of this architecture:

“ This proved invaluable to both Tumblr and Instapaper, since I don’t need to deal with webserver processes crashing, corrupted databases, or any serious platform issues. All of these tools are used by many other companies with deployments much larger than these, so nearly all of the bugs get worked out long before they get a chance to affect us. The result of all of this platform conservatism is that I can spend my time improving the product in meaningful ways instead of fighting with my server software.”

To read more from Marco on his Instapaper creation journey: https://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2011/01/25/interview_marco_arment.html

And thanks to Tom Rose for telling me about Instapaper. Tom is one of those guys that you always want to get a look at his iPad to see what you are missing out on.

I welcome your comments.

Mike Brannan