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This article by @jpphotography is part of a creative blockchain investigation series. Learn more about the #dappexplorer project here.


The TravelFeed dApp

While for commercial tourism and for finding the most popular sights and tours there is an abundance of platforms and resources, there is no established platform for independent travellers who are looking for information about real experiences and destinations off the beaten track. Few other niches have such an abundance of small blogs; Finding information about a destination off the beaten track often takes a long Google search.

Since we started @travelfeed and the Steemit Travellers community in the beginning of this year, we have grown into the biggest travelling community on Steemit. Our initial team consisting of @for91days@rimicane and me, @jpphotography, was recently joined by two more curators, @guchtere and @mrprofessor. Together, we have brainstormed creating the TravelFeed dApp. Instead of failing at copying an already established platform like many dApps do, TravelFeed will provide the platform that travellers have been waiting for: Our dApp will allow travellers to publish their own travel blog, but at the same time be part of an international travel community of like-minded people where finding great travel content is easy and convenient — all with the benefits of the Steem Blockchain including censorship-resistance and the possibility of earning an online income, something that many travellers are looking for.

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On-boarding and logging in: TravelFeed solves problems

Let’s face it: steemit.com is not user-friendly, especially not for beginners. On my travels, I have met many travellers who loved the idea of TravelFeed and wanted to join Steemit. Many even asked me to show them how to create an account, but when it came to verifying the phone number, many travellers who did not have a sim card at the time jumped off. For the ones who actually manage to create an account, the next burden awaits when they finally receive their welcome mail weeks later: Users are used to logging into their social media accounts with their email-address and a password of their choice, not with one out of four 50-digit private keys! Strong passwords are important, but I am sure that I am not the only one who has failed to convince friends and relatives for a long time of using long passwords and a password manager. As long as many people are still using analogue memos to write down their passwords, forcing them to type in a 50 digit key to log into a Steem dApp will make them quit in no time.

This is why we have come up with a new way of managing TravelFeed accounts that will solve all the problems that accounts on Steemit have. On the TravelFeed dApp, new users will be able to sign up instantly, providing nothing but an e-mail address and a password. @dlivealready offers a similar feature labelled “guest accounts”, but these are not able to interact with the Steem blockchain. With the TravelFeed dApp, every user will have access to all features of our dApp, no matter if they already have a Steem account or not.


TravelFeed vs. other Steem dApps:

For everyday interactions, users only need one password instead of four long private keys (mockup inspired by WordPress)

 

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At the time of writing, the exact functionality of discounted account creation introduced in HF20 is still unclear. For the (expectable?) worst case scenario which would be that account creation will consume much more ressource credits than we can provide and instead of providing dApps with the option to sign up large amount of users for free, discounted accounts will be claimed and sold by large stakeholders, we have come up with a possible solution for the TravelFeed dApp: Our backend will interact with the Steem blockchain on behalf of the user by translating the user input on our dApp into an action that will be posted to the Blockchain by one of many TravelFeed-owned accounts created for this purpose. As soon as a user has acquired the account creation fee in form of rewards paid out to the travelfeed-owned accounts, he can choose a username and have a Steem account created by us for free using his withheld rewards, all directly on the TravelFeed dApp without ever visiting steemit.com. If discounted account creation works in a way that allows us to create a large number of accounts for free, we will allow users pick a username during sign up and create a Steem account for them instantly.

As soon as the dApp has created the Steem account, users will be provided with the recommended option to store their private posting key with us — users can then keep logging in with their e-mail address and password. For existing Steem users, the same option will be offered. Users who choose not to trust us with their private posting key can use Steemconnect to log in, but will then have to enter the less user-friendly 50-digit private key every time.

For security reasons, we will not offer to store any other private keys, but provide users with instructions on how to store and back them up securely. Since for everyday interactions with the TravelFeed dApp only the posting authority is required, users who have stored their private posting key with us can use their password to log in and will only be asked for their private keys when required for advanced actions such as withdrawing rewards.

 

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The TravelFeed web app

A home to travellers around the world. Of all the current dApps on the Steem Blockchain, my favourite is @steempeak. Steempeak is smooth and user-friendly, with the TravelFeed dApp we want to achieve the same, but tailor the experience towards travellers. Each post created through the TravelFeed dApp will have the native option to add a location in form of GPS coordinates to it; We will reach out to @steemitworldmap for that. From the GPS coordinates, we determine location categories such as continent, country and region. These categories will then be easily accessible on the dApp. Categories as well as the front page will be sorted by our own algorithm that gives preferential treatment to posts upvoted through our manual curation.

Steemit.com can be hard to understand for new users — I believe I am not the only one who spent half an hour reading posts about the difference of 100% power-up and 50/50 payout and what to use before I wrote my first post. This is why steem-specific options such as setting the reward type or adding beneficiaries will be hidden by default and only accessible by enabling the advanced view in the settings.


TravelFeed is easy:

By removing Steem-specific options from the default view our dApp will be easier to use (mockup inspired by Steempeak and WordPress)

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After the dApp has launched with these initial features, we will start working on community features. On our Discord server, we have an established community of travellers. Discord is great for chatting, but for tasks such as organising meet-ups, the TravelFeed dApp will do a much better job. We will also release more community features including forum-like structures and sub-communities. Eventually, we will implement an off-chain chat and fully migrate the community from Discord to our dApp.

Giving the popularity in the travel community of having own blogs, we will give users the option to obtain a subdomain steemusername.travelfeed.io or even acquire a paid TLD with a registrar. They can then customise the look of this page and display their blog posts — it will work like popular easy-to-manage blog services such as these offered by wordpress.com or Blogger, but apart from the benefit of earning rewards, their posts will get more visibility and interactions and have the chance to appear on the main TravelFeed dApp as well.

For existing travel bloggers, we will provide a tutorial on how to set up the @steempressplugin in their WordPress blog and configure it to post to the TravelFeed dApp by using the#travelfeed tag. Users of other platforms will be encouraged to switch to TravelFeed.

 

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The next step: TravelFeed App for Smartphones

It is the year 2018 and the most popular way of accessing social networks are smartphones, including many travellers who are travelling without a laptop. I am personally using @steempeak as a Chrome app on my smartphone since I am not a huge fan of the established mobile apps for the Steem Blockchain such as eSteem and Partiko — they cannot deliver an experience anywhere as smooth as Instagram, Facebook or even Google Plus.

We will develop a TravelFeed mobile App for Android and iOS that will provide users with actual value added over using a web app: The TravelFeed app will provide options targeted to travellers such as downloading posts from a certain region for offline reading and viewing nearby posts. All interactions such as creating posts and comments or voting will be possible offline and will be synced to the Blockchain when the smartphone reconnects to the Internet.

We want your help!

We would love to hear your thoughts on the features outlined above! Which other features would you like to see in the upcoming TravelFeed dApp? We will vote on helpful suggestions with @travelfeed. If you are a developer and interested in working with us in creating the TravelFeed dApp, please contact us!


This post was authored by @jpphotography, a member of the sndbox incubator. Learn more, follow @jpphotography or begin a conversation in the comment section below.


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