What is this?
MXit has released an API which enables anyone to easily integrate their own application into the MXit platform. This will give your service access to the whole MXit userbase (which is over 19 million users worldwide).
Basically the MXit API is a way for you to add your own service to the MXit platform. If you know MXit you will know that MXit is much more than just an IM. MXit is the most successful mobile social network in Africa. They also provide loads of additional services (for example content, chat rooms and games). They now provided the ability to everyone to also develop a service and make it available on MXit for users to use. MXit also has its own currency called Moola. You can also decide if you wish to charge users for using your service or not. This of course opens up the possibility for you to also share in the profit your service generates with MXit. (The percentage should be negotiated with MXit.)
Why write my own app?
There are 2 main reasons for creating your very own application for MXit.
- The first one is obvious MONEY. :-) MXit uses their own virtual currency called Moola. MXit users buy Moola, which they can then use to pay for value added services such as for content or playing games. The API also provide you with the means to charge users some Moola for using your service or for playing your game. The really big benefit here is that MXit already have such a huge user base that you can make quite some money by just charging users a real small amount of Moola. That way they will easily accept the cost, and you, because of the quantity of users will make some profits.
- Most young people don't have their own PC not even to talk about internet connections, but most people does have MXit capable cellphones. So the second main reason for making your very own app on MXit is of course the ability to reach people and share information with them. This could be for which ever reason you can think of.
The possibilities for a MXit app is only limited to your imagination.. :-) Some ideas are:
- single/multi- player games
- news / weather
What will I need to do this?
Unfortunately MXit has decided to only implement their API using Microsoft's WCF Library (which is part of the .NET Framework). This however means that you are very much limited to Microsoft products and servers. If you are like me and would like to develop and run this on Linux machines, you are pretty much screwed. It you have the courage and time to deal with the Microsoft part of it then here are a list of things you will need to continue:
- Microsoft Windows PC
- Microsoft Visual Studio (Express 2008 or newer)
- Microsoft .NET 3.5 framework
- MXit API registration
- MXit SDK
- C# skillz
- A Microsoft Windows Server (with Microsoft .NET 3.5 framework installed)
- Connected to the Internet (can be behind a firewall - recommended)
- Your developed MXit Application installed
When you start your MXit application, it will then create a connection to a MXit server. The MXit server will then direct all messages sent to your service to you via this full duplex TCP/IP connection.
How do I do this?
There are unfortunately a couple of steps you will have to complete before your app will be available on MXit. Here are a quick overview of them:
- Register: The first step is to register as an external developer on code.mxit.com. This is a quick and free procedure. After registration you will receive a beta app name and key. You will need this to test your app live on MXit. Beta app names are GUIDs. Only 10 people will be allowed to connect to your app at any one time while you are using the beta app name.
- Get the SDK: The next step is to download and install the MXit App SDK. But before you do this, make sure that you have at lease the latest Visual Studio Express or better installed from Microsoft. The express version is free.
- Develop Your App: Now all you need to do is develop your app. For the nitty gritty technical stuff, you should read the tutorial on the MXit API website. You can find it here: http://code.mxit.com/documentation/. Then click on the Tutorial link. The tutorial includes screen shots and the actual code which you can then just copy and paste to get a basic app running. Nice :-)
- Test Your App: So now you have a working app (or at least you think you have), and you want to test it on MXit. For this you will need to have a MXit client. I would suggest you download EVO (PC based MXit client from MXit's website. Now with the client you can log into MXit. Once logged into MXit you can add your app as a contact in MXit. Where it asks for the contact name (MXitId) you should just use your beta app name.
MXit did promise that their new API service will be very scalable and not add any latency between your server and the MXit user. So you don't have to worry about the MXit side of things. So here is a tip. Make sure that your app can handle rappid growth and optimise it for performance, because no user likes to wait for a slow app to respond!
Where can I get more information?
This is the best and cheapest way to get your service on MXit. Users will still have to add your application to their account before they can use it, but they will be able to find it on Tradepost (which is basically like the App Store on iPhones, but only for MXit services). There are already some very successful apps running on the API so it is definitely working, and quite some more amazing apps are in the pipeline. So why are you still reading this, get hacking on your very own MXit app!