Ning!

For the past 4 weeks or so, I’ve been working on a project known previoiusly as 24 Hour Laundry.

Now, it’s no longer 24HL: Welcome Ning.

A development playground with all kinds of neat and nifty toys, Ning is attempting to do to application and code sharing what other apps have done to photos, bookmarks or other arenas. Allowing people to clone, mix, and create new apps.

There’s a lot of cool things here, and I’ve got a pretty bad headache, so I’m not going to be able to cover all the things that I would like to here, but here’s some of the cooler things about the site:

* System wide content store. Public content which is created can be accessed by any application. This content store is well abstracted, and has a content creation and query system. You don’t have to worry about scaling up: You can leave that to the professionals in the backend. At the same time, you can collect data from all the other apps in the playground. You want to create a book reviews site? First, grab everything that’s known as a Book from the site, and then use the built in classes for ratings and comments to build a discussion board. The possibilities for content mix and match are really spectacular. However, if you don’t want others touching your data, you can mark it as “private” and use it only in your app - but why would you want to?
* Built in classes for lots of things. Build a calendar. Interact with Flickr. Make a GMap. Talk to Amazon. The code’s all done for you, you just use it. Bookshelf makes extensive use of the Amazon classes, Restaurant Reviews With Maps uses Google Maps to show where you’re going — Bay Area Hiking Trails shows you how to get there.
* RSS feeds of content. The Ning Pivot is a really cool way of looking at the content flowing by, but not only can you watch it, you can watch it flow by.

There’s about a half doezn other really nifty things here that I can’t even think of at the moment because it’s 5am and I’ve been walking like a Zombie for two weeks to get this stuff complete.

But the coolest thing is:
* All data added is placed under CC By-SA license. (If you don’t like this, ning isn’t for you.)
* All app code is completely open, and you can make it your own in 2 seconds.

Screw Ruby on Rails: who needs a 2 minute app, when you can write a 2 second app? All depends on how fast you can click.

If you run into problems with ning, feel free to drop them here: You can never fix all the bugs before release, but I think that the team working on Ning has done an absolutely incredible job with all the work they’ve put together here. I’ll pass them on as best as possible.

There’s a lot of other stuff I want to write — one that others here might find interest in is how similar Ning’s content store is to RDF, and why I think that there’s no functional difference. Of course, Marc and I got into a nice “discussion” on that one on IRC the other night, so maybe I’ll wait til I’m a bit less exhausted and can adequately express my points on the topic. :)

9 Responses to “Ning!”

  1. Danny Ayers, Raw Blog : » Ning Says:

    ources. Dunno, maybe they could be encouraged to offer a SPARQL endpoint… Ning PS. Christopher Schmidt (who just happens to be one of the developers): There’s a lot of other st [...]

  2. Gustaf Erikson Says:

    Congrats Chris! It must have been a hard slog, I can’t imagine what it’s been like.

    I must say that your post makes a better case for Ning than the ning.com itself :-)

  3. Dave Beckett Says:

    Congrats Chris, glad to see you involved in such exciting work.

  4. Michael Parekh Says:

    Agree with you on the CC license feature…it could really be the coolest feature if developers/users take to it…glad you guys are implementing it.

  5. dave Says:

    can you use ning w/your own domain name?

  6. karl Says:

    bad bad bad bad. You can’t surf the Ning Web site if you block cookies.

  7. Christopher Schmidt Says:

    Karl: The comments issue is known, and being worked on.

    Dave: Not yet! But it’ll happen. See http://faq.ning.com/group.php?FAQGroup:title=Building+Apps+on+Ning#faq-147293 .

    Michael: Yep, the CC license stuff is just totally rad. My main concern is that people won’t see it, and it will just be ignored leading to people complaining later down the line - but that can happen any time you pick a license to have people submit under. Not sure what a good solution to that is.

    Gustaf: Yeah, my blog makes a better case for tech users, it may be true, but Ning isn’t for just developers (although it needs to hit that crowd if it wants to get more cool apps). So, I’m not surprised by the marketing angle of the website — and all the info here is in the developer docs, it’s just not condensed yet.

    Dave — Thanks! I think you’ll have a great job where you’re going to, although I’ll admit I’m happier to still be in Cambridge than moving out to Sunnyvale like Y! would have wanted me to had the interview gone better. ;)

  8. James Mc Parlane's Blog Says:

    Today, 24 Hour Laundry Launched Its First Product ‘Ning’

  9. Danny Ayers, Raw Blog : » Ning Play #0 Says:

    ;d be interested in RDF-related experimentation, which was confirmed by Marc. (Heh, I knew Christopher Schmidt has already talked about RDF with them, and there are some other familiar names i [...]