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BitTorrent Made Easy with Speckly
July 16, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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What has helped Google become the premier search engine? How did an Internet start up transform itself from a noun to a verb? If someone asks you a question, how many times do you find yourself saying, "I don't know, Google it." If you're an internet geek, chances are you've said this countless times. Google is an excellent resource because of its simplicity - no bells or whistles, just utilitarianism at its finest.

Transferring that simplicity to the file-sharing world hasn't gone so smoothly. Back in the days of Napster, file-sharing was a point and click affair. Today, that isn't so much the case. BitTorrent has brought about a revolution in file-sharing, yet those who aren't computer savvy enough still struggle to use indexing sites such as MiniNova or The Pirate Bay. Surely there's a BitTorrent search engine that's as simple to use as Google...

Indeed there is. A new BitTorrent search engine dubbed Speckly aims to simplify the file-sharing experience to a mere point and click experience. At first look, the Speckly interface is rather rudimentary. All that’s provided to the end user is the logo and a search box. From there, the end user clicks “search” and before long is whisked away to the search results page.

Speckly searches all of the main BitTorrent indexers and trackers. MiniNova, The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, SeedPeer, Monova, FullDls, TorrentReactor, BT Junkie, LegitTorrents, and Vuze are all searched. While the end user can't select what type of media he or she wishes to search for on the search page, this information is can be isolated once the search has completed.

The goal of Speckly is to bring simplicity to the BitTorrent experience – something the developers felt was sorely lacking.

"Our mantra is (a) relevant, (b) familiar, and (c) simple," Ken from told Slyck. "It's too easy to provide a lot of BitTorrent specific information and lose many potential users. As a result, we tried to keep on search themes that people are familiar with."

Although things are kept simple on the surface, Ken told Slyck there's a significant amount of technology that runs quietly in the background.

"The site is run on a LAMP stack and developed using handcrafted HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript. No off the shelf libraries were used in order to keep the code as streamlined as possible. The intention is to have the server do as much of the work as possible rather than using scripts on the user's machine do any of the sorting or formatting; this makes the site very responsive across searches. "Flat files" (vs. databases) are used to keep track of search results yielding an architecture that can scale with minimal administration."

BitTorrent as a distribution medium can be best described as being on the cusp of mainstream acceptance. There are a few sticking points to full mainstream acceptance, however, as BitTorrent isn't as simplified as direct web-based downloading. The people behind believe this could change with just a bit of effort.

"We work in the Internet industry as well as probably spend most of our time online. We believe BitTorrent will (is) play a significant role in the future of how content is delivered. What movtivate us was the fact that BitTorrent remains on the cusp of general acceptance, but can't expand due to the high 'geek' factor. We've done surveys and found that people who would download files through BitTorrent won't because they just don't understand the lingo. Second, they didn't understand how you find BT files. As such, Speckly was born."

Speckly's mantra might be simplicity, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. Ken told Slyck that he and the Speckly team "...are trying to stay focused on familiar search features including suggestions, hierarchy (grouping similar results together), previews (where possible), and generally improving the quality of search results so that finding the right result takes as few clicks as possible. All the while we'll look to our users to guide the roadmap!"

Simplicity is something that’s often times undervalued in exchange for a barrage of features and options. Although Speckly might not be suitable for the more advanced BitTorrent crowd, it offers enough basic features that can get any user, regardless of skill, started in the file-sharing fray.

And if you're wondering where the word "Speckly" came about, Ken explained to Slyck, "P2P normally invokes the image of dots with lines connecting with each other. I can't remember who commented on that it looked like a web that speckled (as well as allusions to Lord of the Ring and Precious), but it kinda took and we were calling it 'Speckly' thereafter...All a result of sleep deprivation and working on it late at night. :)"

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BitTorrent :: BitTorrent Clients

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