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£133 pledged of £5,000 goal
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By J. Pablo Fernández
£133 pledged of £5,000 goal
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About this project

This campaign is to make the Windows version, if you are looking for the Mac version, it's already built and you can start a free 30 day trial right away.

The origin story

It was a dark and stormy night… just kidding. The story of the ninja begins when I was was working at Google. My position was helping teams of developers get better at testing. One of the tasks I often had to do is set up a continuous testing system for them. Having one of those is not enough if nobody ever looks at it, so, the next task was setting up a permanent dashboard.

Hardware wise, these dashboards were built out of a desktop computer stashed somewhere and amazingly powerful projectors that would paint a whole wall either green or red depending on the status of the build. Software-wise it was, frankly, horrible. Scripts hacked together that would load a web page and reload it every 30 seconds or so. It would often crash and need some manual nudging to keep on updating.

The Challenge

Since I left Google, more than 4 years ago, I’ve been looking for a permanent dashboard to have at the office. There are many web sites I want to show in rotation:

Continuous Integration New Relic performance charts Google Analytics, both trends and real time Twitter feed, mentions, etc. Issue tracker feed Revenue Server status, load, etc. I often check on those feeds, but more often than not, I forget. A dedicated dashboard is nice, but in your average office, you often have computers that are not being used because someone is in a meeting, having lunch, working from home, on holidays, etc. so those computers can easily be re-used as dashboards, all you have to do is leverage its screensaver.

Enter the Screensaver Ninja

With Screensaver Ninja you can show as many web sites as you want in a cycle. Since the screensaver can lock the computer, that prevents people from interacting with those particular web sites, which tend to be critical. As an added benefit, the permanent dedicated dashboard is still trivial to set up using the screen saver.

Here's a demo of Screensaver Ninja for Mac, the Windows version will be very similar:

And our spiffy explainer video (part of the campaign video):

The Windows version

At our company, we literally have no Windows computers, we are all using Macs or Linux, so, naturally, we built the Mac version first. Since we released it, the number one request is: Where's the Windows version. We been building it but Windows and C# is not our forte and our progress has been slower than we wanted. This is why we started this crowdfunding campaign, to help us speed up the development of the Windows version and get it on your screens sooner (and cheaper).

Our plans for the money

Our plan is very simple, find a kick-ass Windows programmer that finds the challenge of putting a square peg in a round hole (or a browser in a screensaver) fun and interesting and pay them to finish writing the software. Yes, finish, because we already started and we are, maybe, 20 or 30% there.

We want to hire someone to become a permanent member of our happy lifestyle globally distributed total freedom company but before committing to that, I want to know we'll have the revenue for their salary once the Kickstarter fund runs out. If you think you are such a coder, sends us an email to info@screensaver.ninja.

Action shots

Showing Screensaver Ninja in action is harder than it seems. The Ninja is full screen browser, all you see is a web page, there's no URL bar, there's no chrome of any kind. We do collect action shots and we have some from the Mac version that show it the Ninja in its natural environment, the office, the data, the busy life:

Screensaver Ninja in a very slick permanent dashboard screen at FlightStats. They know a thing or two about stats.
Screensaver Ninja in a very slick permanent dashboard screen at FlightStats. They know a thing or two about stats.

We struggled to find an easy and robust tool for displaying a series of dashboards elegantly and simply. Screensaver Ninja was easy to use and got the job done well.

-- Alex Witherspoon, VP of Platform Engineering at FlightStats

Screensaver Ninja showing server stats at a developer's workstation at MSTY
Screensaver Ninja showing server stats at a developer's workstation at MSTY

Within minutes of getting the app I had my big screen up and running, and I’ve also turned every other screen in the company into a dashboard showing different stats, and with custom CSS it looks gorgeous.

-- Daniel, from MSTY 

Screensaver Ninja for Mac showing Bugsnag, an exception tracker
Screensaver Ninja for Mac showing Bugsnag, an exception tracker

Screensaver Ninja for Windows will be...

Robust: Screensaver Ninja for Windows will be built using native Microsoft tools (C# specifically) for optimal performance, robustness and compatibility. The same way we did for Mac.

Secure: Time-proven screensaver lock preventing strangers from tampering with your sites as they are being displayed.

Fresh: Auto-reloading websites will prevent them from going stale or locking up. A maximized browser is not enough to build a dashboard.

Sessions: Very simple to use  session management for sites that require you to log in. Just start the config tool, log in and your screensaver will be logged in into the site.

Powerful: Screensaver Ninja for Windows will most likely use WebKit to render web sites using modern tech: HTML 5, CSS 3, etc.

Flexible: with custom CSS and JavaScript per page, make the most of your screen real estate. We have tens of pre-built recipes for popular sites that people are using on the Mac version and we'll keep on building them.

Testimonials from users of the Mac version

Oh... one more thing, aside from funding, you can help us by voting for us in ProductHunt.

Risks and challenges

Screensavers are abandoned technologies; they are badly documented and often not up to date with the rest of the operating system. Web site renderers are some of the most complex programs we normally run in our computers. Mixing these two is far from trivial. We know, we did it once and we succeeded.

Developing the Windows version will bring new challenges that are different to the ones we encountered with the Mac version, but we learned a lot about where those challenges may appear, and we know what to look for and what solutions are likely to work.

I am confident we can build Windows version and with your help we can do it much faster.

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Funding period

- (60 days)