Vine DECODED: let’s get back in the loop

4 min read
October 25, 2016

What goes around comes around — it’s true both of looping videos and their popularity.

After losing steam a while ago, looping videos made a big comeback with Boomerang, but we didn’t want to just jump on the most recent app servicing the world with short clips. We went back to the mother of all looping video services to see what makes it tick.

vine app decoded

Even though it now experiments with longer videos, Vine is still all about the 6-second loops, as they said in their own Medium post:

Remember: Vines are still here. Those six-second looping posts are so vital to our product, and you’ll continue to see them in your app and on Twitter just as you always have.


So we took their word for it and looked under the hood — boy, did we find one giant service underneath that simple user experience.

It’s foundations-first, not mobile-first

When you think of Vine, your mind goes to the mobile app, right? But behind that mobile app there is a pretty big chunk of work to be done on the back-end to create a service that can handle the massive amount of videos and users that Vine does.

On top of that, Vine has a web app which serves as a content hub — a place to see what’s hot in the world of short videos.

Note that Vine is now a 4-year-old, which means it had years to get to where it is now, in terms of development. If you’d want to recreate it, you’d have to put some serious muscle and time into it.

If you, however, wanted to make a Vine-like service that caters to lovers of looping videos and has the most important features, here is what you’d need:

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Now to the apps

If you know anything about Vine, you know that it first launched an iOS app and then took some sweet time to launch an app for those wielding an Android smartphone.

Nevertheless, we’ll start at the Android app — we’re saving the best for last!

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The work on the Android app adds up to 185 man-days, which seems pretty reasonable, right? It’s a big app after all, so it’s no wonder it takes double the time that it would take to build the 9GAG app from scratch.

But you’ve seen nothing yet.

Let us introduce you to the iOS app. Now, since iOS users were Vine’s early adopters, and it seems that it is still a little biased when it comes to operating systems.

In addition to custom navigation bar design, keyboard and transition animations, pretty much every feature of the iOS app has a little extra something to spice things up, adding up to a grand total of 287 days. Yes, you’ve read that right. Let’s say that again: two hundred and eighty seven days

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When can I sit under my own Vine, then?

If you’ve read our 9GAG piece, you already know that we show the time it takes to develop an app in man-days, or the number of days it takes one developer to develop certain features.

Based on the count of man-days and our current rate of €400 a day, here is the budget you’d need to build a platform that takes on looping videos akin to Vine:

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It’s not a small task and we wouldn’t put just one developer to do all the work.

So let’s set up a team — we’ll have 2 web developers, 2 devs on the Android team and 3 iOS developers, as the iOS app really takes the cake when it comes to man-days.

Putting all those hands and heads together, the whole development process would take 120 workdays, or six months time before you get your final product delivered.

On the bright side, you have all the modules and different features to look forward to in the meantime, and watching the service grow!

Web development
Marko decoding the web app and Vlado writing estimates for the iOS part.

Developing a Vine-like service is definitely a big bite, but if you’re looking to jump on the bandwagon of the looping videos, keep in mind that you don’t have to recreate it in one go.

You don’t have to recreate it at all. Take this estimate as a reference when you think about your own product or an MVP and the basic features you need and want to make it work—make it your own.

And feel free to contact us to bounce some ideas around and see what those crucial features are and what it would take to develop them.

Written by

Mario Zderic

Co-founder and CTO

Mario makes every project run smoothly. A firm believer that people are DECODE’s most vital resource, he naturally grew into the role of People Operations Manager. Now, his encyclopaedic knowledge of every DECODEr’s role, and his expertise in all things tech, powers him to manage his huge range of responsibilities as COO. Part developer, and seemingly part therapist, Mario is always calm under pressure, which helps to maintain the office’s stress-free vibe. In fact, sitting and thinking is his main hobby. What’s more Zen than that?

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