Monthly Archives: February 2006

New Feature: Advanced Filter

Hope everyone had a nice weekend and have filled out their Oscar Pool Picks!

One of the new features we launched with our redesign a few weeks back was the Advanced Filter. The basic idea here is that you can quickly filter what you are looking for by App / Person / Tag / Content Type across all the Apps on Ning.

You can find the Advanced Filter within our Browse Ning page under Advanced. Click on this link and the Advanced Filter box appears thanks to our friend Javascript. Here’s what it looks like:

Skimpy Advanced Search

App is the App URL, such as “parestaurants” in http://parestaurants.ning.com as opposed to Palo Alto Restaurants which is the App Title. We’ll make this more flexible in the future so that you can filter by either App name or URL, but it’s the URL for the moment.

Person or User is the username of the person on Ning. In my case, that would be gina or for my sister Wendy, that would be borntorun (yes, she likes Bruce).

Tag refers to, you guessed it, the tag you want to filter on. For example, if you want to see everything tagged, “Best of Palo Alto” you would enter, best of palo alto.

Content Type refers to “photo” or “book“. One caveat on Content Type: we give developers alot of flexibility in defining Content Types, so a photo or a book might not always be in practice a photo or a book. We chose freedom over rigidity in this case.

When the box has “any” in it, it is not filtering for that slice.

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A Regular Roger Ebert

Oscar Pool

As the lone member of Ning’s Los Angeles “branch office,” I think it’s about time we injected a little Hollywood up in this piece.

So without further ado, here’s Oscars Pool, an easy way to throw down your Academy Awards predictions, share them on your blog/MySpace/whathaveyou and sneak a peek at other Ning user picks.

Godspeed, movie fans.

Did We Mention the Free 60GB Video iPods We’re Giving Away?

Win an iPod!We’re subtle, understated folks here at Ning. In fact, that’s a little something that’s gotten us into trouble in the past. As has our wit and humor, but that’s another story.

So, we realized that we may not have mentioned the little fact that we are giving away a free 60GB Video iPod everyday through March 15th. You’re automatically entered when you sign up for Ning, but even better, the more content you contribute to Apps on Ning, the more people you invite to check out Ning, and the more Apps you create, the more you increase your chances of winning.

Think this is one of those internet scams where someone actually doesn’t win? Not so fast. You can see our winners here. Not to mention the fact that if it were a scam, you can come here to our blog and flame us and that doesn’t seem so cool.

Ning’s New Developer Section

Ning Developer

One area of our site that got a major upgrade last week was our Developer section. Now, you don’t need to be a developer to use Ning. But if you are a developer, we’ve created some special features just for you.

Roll special features…

Optional Developer Homepage
Flag yourself as a Developer by clicking the link near the top of the Developer page and manage your Apps with the Developer dashboard. You have a feed of our Tech Blog, 1-click access to your App Source Code, the option to search your code from here, and when you are browsing Apps on Ning, an easy link to View Source. Give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can always switch back to the default homepage.

Developer Homepage

A Skimmable Overview of the Ning Platform
Here’s a quick technical intro to Ning and how it works under the sheets.
Photo Sharing App Screencast
Watch a six-minute video showing how to build an App from scratch using Ning.
New Documentation
We’ve streamlined our Ning Documentation to be a bit more readable and easily referenceable (I think that’s a word).
Premium Features
Ok, so these aren’t exactly new, but when creating Apps on Ning, you can always choose the option to run your own Google or Yahoo ads, map your own domain name, hide your source code, and buy more storage and bandwidth.
And All the Stuff You Already Loved About Ning
No software downloads, no database to set up, and no sysadmin headaches.

Have a spin and let us know what else we can do to make developing on Ning even easier. We have some ideas, but would love to hear from you!

Mashups Galore!

Gina demoing at Mashup Camp

Of the things we launched last week, our new Skeleton Apps are my favorite. Not because I built them, but because they let you hit the ground running creating Apps that are known in the currently-fashionable parlance as mashups.

With this in mind, we were obviously pretty eager to take part in Mashup Camp, a two-day event showcasing the best of the mashup scene – both the mashups themselves, and the tools and APIs that can be used to build them.

Having now mostly recovered from the barrage of excellent tech, relentless demos and super-brainy geeks, I can happily congratulate the organisers on a raging success. Gina (shown demo’ing above), Mike, and I had a fantastic time, both showing off Ning and seeing some mind-blowingly cool projects. Based on the feedback we got, we’ve convinced a few more people that Ning is a great platform with which to mash together the best of the web.

A few notable highlights and thanks:

  • Our session on Rapid Development Platforms turned out very well; four other companies got involved, we all showed off our stuff, and had some very valuable feedback and discussion. Thanks to everyone there, in particular Zend, to whose upcoming PHP framework we’ve contributed some code. We’ll be making the new framework available to all as soon as we can.
  • Tantek Çelik of Technorati spent a while showing me how we could make ReviewIt output the hReview microformat. We’re fascinated by microformats and are planning on doing more work to include them in our Apps in the future.
  • Obviously, the most thanks go to David Berlind and Doug Gold for organising the whole thing, the Computer History Museum for hosting and everyone else who helped support it. (Oh, and extra thanks to Ryan King of Supr.c.ilio.us and Niall Kennedy of Technorati for getting me home!)

All in all, the whole thing was not only useful and informative but wonderful fun. Want to join in the next one? Best sign up now…

Happy Wednesday and a Quick Tour of New Stuff

We’ve been quiet here at Ning Blog HQ in the past few days, but don’t let the quiet fool you. We would never forget about our faithful blog readers!

Since we last wrote, we’ve been improving upon last week’s release, hanging out at Mashup Camp, and, yes, having a few beers and a nap or two over the long weekend. Hey, you gotta rest sometimes :-)

Here’s a quick tour of some of the new stuff we’ve got going on:

New Ways to Discover Apps
There are now more ways to discover Social Web Apps on Ning! We’ve got your App Categories, Popular Apps, and a few more ways to browse Ning that are easier on the eyes. You can even add your own image to showcase your App on Ning (We call them Appatars around here. Yes, we think that type of thing is funny.) To add your own App image, tags, and categories, go to Edit App Settings for any of your Apps.
New Group App
Our new Group App is the only place where you can define the member profile questions AND enjoy photo sharing, an events calendar, and discussion forums all customizable for your group. You can keep it open or make it members only. It’s totally up to you. Oh, and you can set the whole thing up on a single page. Nice, eh?
Profiles
We heard alot of requests from folks to offer the option for people to add a bit more about themselves on Ning. You asked, we delivered! Now you can see more info on People and Apps around here. Don’t be shy and add a little bit about yourself to your profile! (Don’t worry, it’s totally optional.)
Screencast
For you developers out there, watch a screencast of Yoz building a Photo Sharing App – and pulling in Flickr photos to match – in six minutes on Ning. Yep, you heard right, you can build your very own Photo Sharing App on Ning in six minutes. Six minutes? Yep, six minutes.
Web Services Skeleton Apps
Also for you developers out there, we’ve created some really simple ways to get a head start on your own mashup with Ning web services API Skeleton Apps. They’re all set up with the web services APIs from Flickr, eBay, Google Maps, Yahoo Search, and Amazon built it. Don’t worry we won’t tell that you took any shortcuts.

There’s alot more features we’ve added that we’ll walk through in various posts over the next few days. We’ll also share some tricks of the trade for getting the most out of Ning.

In the meantime, enjoy your Wednesday night!

Mother of Traffic!

UPDATE: Ok, we’re back!

So, we’re up and running with our spanking new design, but our software wanted to remind us today that it was in fact software and not, say, a reinforced steel building :-)

As a result, there are a couple of quirky things happening periodically at the moment, such as a few blank pages where there shouldn’t be, brief moments of slowness, and a link or two in the wrong place.

We are on the case and chasing down the issues as we speak. I’ll post an update here as soon as we think we have these suckers nailed.

We’re back, and we’re SNAZZY!

So how’d you like the new look, eh? Pretty snazzy, if we do say so ourselves. But that’s barely the start of it!

We’ve got:

  • New Apps for you (ReviewIt and Groups are my two faves)
  • New polish on the older Apps
  • New (and better) App set-up and customization
  • New profile pages
  • Plenty of web services skeletons on the Developer tab
  • Oh, and there’s my screencast where I create a Photo Sharing App in 5 1/2 minutes!

Jump in, run around, and let us know what you think. This morning, we’re going to let people go home and get some sleep, then we’ll be back to work. As cool as this new stuff is, we’re not nearly done yet, and the stuff that’s coming in the next couple of months will blow your socks off.

Downtime Starting in 40 minutes

Final: we are now back!

Update: we ran into a few issues with the deployment that we are getting fixed before taking off the maintenance page. We should be back by 7am Pacific.

Our little Ning blog will be up (as will we) but we’re taking Ning down in 40 minutes. We’ll see you all again around 3am Pacific.

Thanks!

Wed Night Downtime! 9:00pm to 3:00am Pacific

I know, I know, six hours without Ning? It pains us too. But, when we come back up, it will be better than ever.

Some of the things you might notice in this new release:

  • A whole new look for Ning and our Ning Apps
  • Easier and more interesting ways to browse Social Web Apps on Ning
  • The option to see a bit more about the people creating Apps on Ning
  • A few new Ning Apps, including Groups and Video Sharing
  • Simplified App cloning and set-up with easy ways to choose your colors, customize your headers, and define the fields in your App
  • Skeletor Apps pre-populated with web services APIs from eBay, Flickr, Amazon, Google, and Yahoo
  • Step-by-Step instructions and screencasts for creating Apps on Ning
  • Developer settings for those that want to dive right into the code
  • The occasional spelling of “customize” as “customise” (long story involving british dudes)

As I may have mentioned before here before, we’re pretty excited about what’s coming down the pipe. We’ll continue to optimize and tweak this release after it’s out, but the team’s put in a HUGE effort to get to this point and I couldn’t be prouder.

Could there be a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

heart hand.jpg