NAVADMIN Viewer Extended Access and 2022 Infrastructure Migration

NAVADMIN Viewer has migrated to newer infrastructure to continue operations and remain available to the user.

NAVADMIN Viewer icon

Support from users offsets operating costs and encourages me to spend time developing. I hope this NAVADMIN Viewer backstory provides information having Extended Access for $4.99/year within the iOS app.

⚡ The Start

I initially developed NAVADMIN Viewer as a side project in 2018. As you might expect, I didn’t think that most people would be interested in an accessible message viewer and this side project for reading NAVADMINs would end up only being used by me. Look, it’s literally named “NAVADMIN Viewer”. But, contrary to what I thought in 2018, app usage took off and I continued to develop and maintain NAVADMIN Viewer in my free time.

Over 4.5 years later NAVADMIN Viewer does a lot more than list NAVADMINs for 80k+ active unique yearly users. In 2022, the feature roadmap (as of 26SEP22) is below (see current live roadmap):

Feature iOS Android Web
Native app ✅ (JS)
Near real-time message updates
All NAVADMIN/ALNAVs (~2010 and later)
All MARADMIN/ALMARs (~2015 and later)
All numbered DoD/DoN issuances 🚧   🚧
Full message search 🟡/🚧
Offline messages 🟡
Notifications on new message release 🚧 🚧
Message popularity ranking  
Auto-detection of referenced publications 🚧 🚧
Customizable message font    
Bookmark messages    
iCloud bookmark sync N/A N/A
Handoff, Spotlight Search, Siri Shortcuts N/A N/A
Runs on MacOS (the computer) N/A N/A
Runs on Internet Explorer 11 N/A N/A
Legend Symbol Meaning
🟡 Partial support
🚧 On roadmap
N/A Not Applicable

📱 Platform Feature Support

As seen in the chart above, not every platform has support for all features. I use an iPhone SE as my personal phone so naturally my development time is more focused on iOS. Each app is written in its platform’s native language. I don’t use a cross-platform framework 🤢 for NAVADMIN Viewer because I believe that native applications provide the best experience to users in this use case. Native applications can more fully utilize platform APIs and access these APIs sooner without relying on a cross-platform middle layer to be updated or bug fixed.

🛠 Behind the scenes

Some of these features are made possible by the NAVADMIN Viewer server infrastructure that aggregates and delivers message data. The iOS, Android, and Web apps fetch message data from the server application for load balancing and uniformity. The earliest version of NAVADMIN Viewer got its message directly from the official source. Any irregularities at the source (ex: site transition/deleted messages) required a full app update to fix so I ended up creating a server that provided messages to the app; now any changes at the message source were handled at the server for uninterrupted app message delivery. Reducing 3 parsing logic in 3 languages into 1 language saved hours and keeps me sanity 😉

+---------------+  +--------------+  +--------------+     
|  iOS Client   |  |Android Client|  |    Web app   |     
|               |  |              |  |              |     
|  Objective C  |  |    Kotlin    |  |  Javascript  |     
+-----------|---+  +------|-------+  +---|----------+     
            |             |              |                
            +---------+   |   +----------+                
                      |   |   |                           
                    +-|---|---|-+       +-------------+   
                    | REST API  |------ | Redis cache |   
 +-----------+      |    +      |       +-------------+   
 |Data source|------|Data Parser|       +----------+      
 +-----------+      |           |-------|PostgreSQL|      
                    |  Golang   |       |database  |      
                    +-----------+       +----------+        

The server consists of a front facing REST API and concurrent data processor written in Golang. This forward application caches a limited amount of messages in RAM and a Redis cache. The server utilizes a PostgreSQL database for storing everything else which is mostly persistent message data.

🌎 Space, ⏳ Time, 🧨 Force

Alright here we are. Operating NAVADMIN Viewer costs money and my time is valuable.

NAVADMIN Viewer is a side project. I spend my time developing NAVADMIN Viewer because it’s fun and makes an impact helping sailors and others who read administrative messages. I’ve never put ads in NAVADMIN Viewer and strive to keep it that way. If you’re wondering if ads make “a lot of money” — they don’t.

Compute time and data transfer have real costs. NAVADMIN Viewer is able to avoid major costs and outages by automation and running it on a hybrid of free and low cost cloud hosting. NAVADMIN Viewer’s main server was running on a free server instance on Heroku for the past 4 years. Many PaaS cloud hosts have eliminated their free/low cost offerings lately. Heroku is discontinuing free products at the end of 2022. Heroku’s pricing scales exponentially 📈 – I would like to avoid that so I’ve migrated NAVADMIN Viewer to new infrastructure to continue running. In addition to the main server, Redis and PostgreSQL hosting has some additional money and time cost to maintain.

⭐ NAVADMIN Viewer Extended Access

The iOS version of NAVADMIN Viewer lets ALL users access the 3 latest messages. I added Extended Access as an in-app purchase to unlock access to all remaining messages. All users can continue searching through all messages and see which messages contain their search term but Extended Access is needed to view the full message.

💯Users who previously supported me via in-app purchase get Extended Access for free. Android and Web versions of NAVADMIN Viewer continue to be free to use. NAVADMIN Viewer on iOS remains the flagship version that gets new features first.

If you find NAVADMIN Viewer helpful and that it saves you time and frustration (AKA it accelerates your life), please consider supporting development and operations by getting Extended Access for $4.99/year.

💸 Not convinced? Think $4.99/year is too much? How much is your and my time worth? ⏳ Here’s a couple things which Extended Access costs less than:

  • Meal at the NEX
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte
  • Netflix
  • Chipotle
  • Call of Duty battle pass
  • Big Mac meal
  • Skins in World of Warcraft
  • 2 meals underway
  • Spotify
  • Your time

✉ Questions? Inquiries?

You can reach me at [email protected].

📱 NAVADMIN Viewer is available on the below platforms

Anson Liu