Goodbye Delicious

The sad demise of Delicious, the web service that basically helped start Wandle Software.

Delicious has been bought by Pinboard (of all companies) and is going to be switched into read-only mode on June 15.

If you look at what’s been happening in the last few years, that it has been sold (again) and is being shut-down should hardly be a surprise. If you recall, we had to remove support for Delicious in Yummy — an app that was deigned as a Delicious client! — after their API was broken for months. It’s not a pretty end, but it’s still an end that I want to commemorate.

Early version of Yummy

Why would I want to commemorate such a failure? Well, Wandle Software was, effectively, founded becaused I liked and used the service. In 2008, when I first got an iPhone, I used it as a “read later” service; I used it to save and share interesting links; I even pulled its RSS feed into my blog as a kind of micro-blogging service. When the iPhone SDK launched a had a quick play around and figured that I wouldn’t have the time to do much. Then the store launched without a Delicous client and… long story short… I wrote one, called it Yummy and launched it in late August.

As much as I liked and used Delicious, it was flawed even from the beginning. The API was terrible. I did a talk at the London iPhone Developer group ostensibly about API design, but actually a barely disguised opportunity to complain about Delicious. (In short, it’s not entirely clear what the API is designed for. It’s not terribly good at syncing bookmarks. And the methods it did have didn’t work well on a device with 128Mb of memory.)

In addition to being badly design, it was also badly managed. At the time that Apple were taking around two weeks to approve app updates, Yahoo decided to announce a significant change to the API and then released it on the same day. No third party clients supported it. There was no first party app. I won’t recount the complete saga here — I already did that once — but, suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty.

Having said all that, developing for the iPhone was (mostly) fun. My day-job involved working on “big iron” so making anything work with a single, slow CPU and very limited memory was a challenge. And sales in the first couple of years were in the thousands. Clearly not a huge commercial success, but not bad for a hobby and it encouraged me to keep going.

Meanwhile, Delicous’ death-sprial continued. A sale. Removal of the fun API change above. Brief optimism that things would change. Then the realisation that they wouldn’t.

I wrote this nearly a year ago:

At this point I see no point in maintaining Delicious support in Yummy. When you consider that the app is named after the site this feels a little crazy but pretending that Yummy supports Delicious when it can’t is starting to feel dishonest, even though this is not a problem of my making.

But just becasue we could see it coming doesn’t make the end a happy occasion. Here’s to you, Delicious. I’m sorry to see you go.