Monday, June 30, 2008

Shaun's Beefy Middle

Shaun Connolly joined the Ringside team a couple of months ago, and has had a huge, positive impact on what we are doing and where we are going. He has come up with another blog that describes the "Beefy Middle". No, this is not referring to the 20 pounds Shaun has lost since leaving Red Hat this winter and taking up an exercise program. It refers to the area of the market above the long tail and below the skinny head.

Shaun explains it all in his latest blog.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cloud Status

This is not one of my usual social networking blogs, but I thought it was semi-related. Clearly the "Cloud" is one of the biggest changes happening on the web today. However, one of the concerns is how to track down if my application is down or the cloud service is down?

Hyperic has just released CloudStatus BETA. This is the first tool that I know if that actually checks the availability and performance statistics of cloud services. In this first Beta, they do the 5 core Amazon cloud services: EC2 (Compute), S3 (Storage), Simple Query Service, Simple DB, and Flexible Payment Service. You can drill down one ach of these to see thruput of I/O in Europe and the US for example.

Think of the next step - providing a common management platform to monitor my own apps as well as the cloud - all correlated together to make sure Web 2.0 operations teams have the best visibility to manage and monitor their critical services (like Social Web;).

Note: I am on the board at Hyperic, so you'll want to form your own opinion. But I think this thing is pretty cool for anyone running apps on Amazon today and a whole lot more people in the future...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

fbOpen API Analysis

Jason Kinner, our CTO, is leading our analysis of fbOpen, the recent open source project Facebook released to help the Facebook developer community. He has published a blog that describes the implementation in terms of number of API’s implemented.

Our goal at Ringside is to enable the Social Web. To that end we want to make it easy to develop socially aware applications that can run on any website as well as the big social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, etc. We let any website have their own social graph and also tie into the big social network graphs as well.

To make this possible, we want to make sure we implement the Facebook API in cooperation with the fbOpen project. Like I wrote in an earlier blog about Shindig and Open Social, fbOpen feels a lot like the early reference implementations of the J2EE specification that Sun put out. Something that obviously was not meant for production purposes, but could serve the community to assure compatibility and interoperability. As you can see from Jason’s table, Ringside is focused on creating a fuller social application server for any website.

Jason will be posting more as we dig into other areas of fbOpen like FBJS and FBML. We look forward to working with Facebook to bring about the power of the Social Web to everyone. Their initial work in defining an open platform over a year ago in many ways launched us down this path, and we are excited to see the continuation of this trend to open up their platform.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ringside implements Open Social

While Open Social is still getting started (there are less than 300 open social applications on Orkut for example and nearly 30,000 on Facebook), it is going to be an important platform in the coming Social Web.

Ringside has been working on letting any website be a container for Open Social and to hook into the emerging Open Social ecosystem. Bill Reichert does an excellent job of explaining it in this video.

Open Social reminds me of the old J2EE specification. Sun released a reference implementation – similar to Open Social’s Apache Shindig reference implementation. Like the Sun version, Shindig is meant to be used as a framework for large social networks like Orkut and Hi5 to implement their own version of Open Social – just like IBM, BEA, JBoss and many others did with the Sun reference implementation. Ringside is filling in the role of implementing a production version of Shindig that any website could use to build their own little mini social network among their own users. We then add in the capability of Identity Mapping to allow users to hook into the big Social Networks like Facebook and MySpace.

We see the Facebook API and the Open Social API becoming the two standards for Social Application development over time – just like .Net and J2EE became the standards for web applications around the turn of the century. Ringside allows any website to build Facebook and/or Open Social applications today that will run on both your website as well as Facebook and the large Open Social websites like MySpace, hi5 and others.

While we are still in beta, we welcome early adopters and user feedback and suggestions. Of course this is all in free open source. Onward to the Social Web!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Facebook Open Sources Platform

I just got a call from Ami Vora of Facebook, who has corrected me on following the advice of this other article - Apparently the CPAL only applies to open sourcing the files that are changed. So if a class is extended, or the database access logic is put into an API call, then that gets open sourced under the CPAL as well.

Facebook’s use of the CPAL open source license is a step in the right direction. We love the fact that the community is required to donate changes back to the open source project. This is the reason we use the LGPL at Ringside.

The downside of the CPAL is the requirement to give attribution. This means a little Facebook badge comes up on all websites that use the Facebook software. This makes sense from a Facebook perspective because it helps them to build their brand in return for donating their software. On the other hand, if every open source project required this, then there would be nothing on web pages except logos – Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Tomcat, JBoss, Spring, Zimbra, Postgres, Lucene, MediaWiki, Firefox, etc., etc.

It will be interesting to see if MySpace is anxious enough to run the 26,000 Facebook Applications on their social network to actually put up a little Facebook logo on their website…

Facebook continues to look like the Microsoft of the Social Networking industry with this latest move of creating an open source project – fbOpen. Open, but not really.

The license they chose is CPAL, and there is an excellent review of what this means at The poison pill in this license agreement is that anyone using the Facebook code as part of something else and puts that up on a website would need to make all of the code open source. So if MySpace used this code to support Facebook applications, then MySpace would have to open source their entire platform (unless Facebook cuts a private deal with them).

This says that Facebook only wants developers to see the code for the sole purpose of making Facebook applications that run on Facebook.

Until further clarification from Facebook, Ringside will keep our Facebook API implementation free from any of this viral CPAL code that Facebook has released. The LGPL license we use lets anyone use and embed our Facebook API, JS, FQL and FBML implementations in whatever way they want without any obligations other than if they change our code they contribute those changes back to the community.

My suggestion is to let your voice be heard by Facebook to make their platform true open source either with LGPL or with Apache license as the Open Social reference implementation Shindig does. We had all expected more from Facebook, and this is truly disappointing.