There’s a basic principle in Silicon Valley: If you want something that doesn’t exist, build it. If you don’t know how, build it anyway. That value has spawned some of the most innovative tech giants on the planet (like Apple and its first arts-and-craftsy-looking PC), but it’s also used on a smaller scale by Web developers everyday.
Exhibit A: Developers wanted to allow users to share files on their apps using Dropbox, the cloud-based data syncing service. That integration didn’t exist, so they cobbled it together themselves. Now they don’t have to. Dropbox heard about those developer’ efforts, and today announced their own so-called “chooser,” giving developers the ability to directly build the file-sharing service into their apps. Now a user in an app can more efficiently access Dropbox to share content like files and photos.
For Dropbox, the hack grew out of its experience integrating with Facebook groups in September, according to Sean Lynch, product manager at Dropbox. With the new feature, users see a branded Dropbox pulldown option in an app’s interface, which is much more efficient and consistent than what developers made for themselves.
Dropbox’s first official partner is Asana, the collaborative application originally co-developed by Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz. When developers would build their own choosers, it would take weeks, taking away time and manpower from other more essential projects. Other problems involved worrying about repeatedly having to authenticate login info. “Reinventing that wheel when Dropbox is already the expert at it is such a crazy approach,” Kenny Van Zant, head of business and operations at Asana, says. “When you open up a link to your files, you know what you’re going to get.”
Van Zant added that the chooser integration was “step one of a strategic roadmap” for Dropbox, and that his company was proud to be a part of it.
At press time, Dropbox hadn’t responded to what possible next steps could be, but if they involve more of an open source relationship with developers, that could be a win-win for everybody.
[Image courtesy Dr. Stephen Dann]