Monthly Archives: April 2006

The Hottest API on the Internet (if we do say so ourselves)

Here at Ning, we love hooking stuff together in weird and wonderful ways, resulting in eccentric-but-useful marriages such as eBay & Google Maps, Ajax & kittens and the coffee machine & Diego’s brain. We love helping our community mix things up too; this is why we created the web services skeleton apps and take part in the whole web mashup scene. And it’s also why we’ve created the new, super-powerful Ning REST API – unleashing the raw untrammelled awesomeness of your Ning Apps to the entire internet.

If you haven’t encountered them before, web service APIs allow the use of a web app in ways beyond having to visit the site in a browser. With the Ning REST API (previously mentioned as the Atom API), you can pull content out of your App, embed it in other web sites, subscribe to it in a feed reader… and do whatever you want with it. Even better, with the latest release of the API, the flow goes both ways – you can upload content to your App with external software. (If you want to try, you can use your favorite programming language.

As you can see, we’ve used plenty of existing web services APIs at here at Ning. So when it came to our own, we had tons of good ideas to throw in, and we went with them all:

Widgets ahoy!
Want to embed Ning content in your external blog or website? No problem. Our API makes it easy to use your Apps in new and interesting ways.
It’s standards-based
As the name implies, the API is based on href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representational_State_Transfer">REST principles; HTTP like it’s meant to be. When it came to data formats, we went with the best: the
Atom syndication
format
and publishing
protocol
. (We’re planning on adding support for other formats soon too.)
Feeds are busting out all over:
Since we’re using the Atom syndication format, it means that our content comes out as feeds you can subscribe to. To create a feed, it’s just a matter of typing a URL.
Export and Import
You want to take your own backup of your App’s content? Hey, we can understand that. Our API makes it simple, and with the latest release you can also send data the other way.
Custom feeds that search, with no code
The URLs that generate feeds can contain queries that search your App’s data or the entire Ning Content Store. Want to get a feed of everything with a particular tag? Not only can you do that, there’s no code required – see our examples.
Get information about Apps, Profiles and Tags:
You can pull out all kinds of interesting metadata about your App. This page shows our favorite: a feed that lists an App’s clones.
Create, Update, Delete
As the App owner, you now have the power to do anything with your App content remotely that you can do with App code. In fact, there doesn’t even need to be any app code: want a free gigabyte of API-accessible, searchable storage for structured data? Just create an empty Ning App, and you’ve got it.
Treats for Javascript junkies
One of the formats we’ll be adding soon is JSON, which makes data-handling easier for Javascript. Can’t wait? Neither could David (our main PHP guru), so he created BadgerFish, which will turn any XML into JSON. (It’s such a good idea, people are already translating it to other languages)
Lots of demos and docs
Here are the demos. Need the specs? We have all the documentation you might want.

Add it all up, and you have a strong contender for the most powerful and flexible API on the web, and it’s just waiting for you to dive in and experiment. No wonder we call it a Playground!

Back in Action

UPDATE: We should be back in action. Thanks!!!!

We’ve seen a little bit of a slowdown in performance today and I wanted to let people know we’re on the case and should be back to our normal speedy self in the next few hours.

It might just be all of those clever captions you all have been showering on Caption Me, but in any case, thanks for your patience. We appreciate it!

Cute Overload’s Caption Me!

We’re lucky enough to be able to live in a world with Cute Overload, which today rolled out the soon-to-be-famous Caption Me! app. The photo is Cute Overload, but the caption is all you. Sort of like the New Yorker but for kittens, puppies, and absurdly small horses.

CuteCaps

If you’re in need of a little cuteness on your blog or MySpace page, you might also like the mini-version of Caption Me:

We Passed 10,000!!!

On Monday we passed 10,000 apps running on Ning. Wahoo!

Thanks to everyone for your support of this little service. We hope you continue to find it of value and, on occasion, an oasis of the fun and clever. Ok, maybe just fun.

Code For A Cause

I’ve been getting really excited about Ning’s potential for non-profit projects. What I hadn’t considered is the potential for those who want to lend assistance where they can but aren’t yet involved in a particular non-profit. It was Adam Wright who brought this to our attention with his fantastic App, Code For A Cause. It’s a clone of our Swap Services App, but focused on putting web designers and developers in touch with the non-profit projects who need them. Check it out, there are already several worthy projects and a whole bunch of volunteers signed up, with kudos coming in from NetSquared and Wired’s WebMonkey.

And if you have the talent and time to spare, add your hat to the ring, working on these projects is a great way to make a difference.

Code for a Cause

Faster, Better, and with now with Even More Web Services

So, you might think about Ning as the place to create mash-ups with open web services. Well, tonight we’re releasing the just-out-of-beta version of our own Ning Atom API. This means that it’s now just as easy to pull data out of Ning and into your own blog or website as it is to pull data from other services into Ning. Neat, eh?

We’ll be down for a couple of hours tonight getting this rolled out, but when we come back up we’ll be offering:

Open Access to the Ning Content Store
With the new Ning Atom API, you can access anything in the Ning content store from outside Ning. This means you can get a feed of your app’s content into your own blog or website.
App Tracker
Ever wonder how many times your Ning app has been cloned? Well, now you can keep track of your (or any) app’s clones with a handy Atom feed piped right into your favorite feed reader. For example, to check out the lineage of Restaurant Reviews, try adding this feed http://restaurants.ning.com/xn/atom/1.0/application/children into your Bloglines account or Firefox Live Bookmarks.
Option to Display Real Names and Pretty Faces
Several of you asked for the ability to enhance your app by displaying more than just a username next to contributed content. Now you can. With the new Ning Atom API, you can pull your users’ real names and photos into your app. You can learn more about how to make this happen in the Atom API docs.

We’d love your thoughts on these new features, especially if you have any questions about using them, so jump in, have a play, and let us know what you think!

April Fools 2006!

Happy April Fools 2006! I was doing some late nite browsing and ran into a story in Digg about a Wiki page where they list April Fools Pranks. It looks nice. It occurred to me we should be able to do something like that. So I created Ning’s very own April Fools Pranks app (a clone of, you guessed it, Bookmarks).

So there you go. Let everyone know about April Fools pranks you’re finding on-line.

G’night!