Monthly Archives: May 2006

CCHits: The latest and greatest music from the Creative Commons

CC Hits

If you’re used to checking out new music on the web, you’ll know that there’s tons of free and unrestricted music available for download under Creative Commons licenses. However,
it can still be tough to find the really good stuff. That’s where CCHits comes in.

Fabricio Zuardi’s latest production is probably the most ambitious user-created App-from-scratch that we’ve yet seen. The front page lists details of the latest tracks, with a Flash-based player for each one, album art and license icons. You can listen to, comment and vote on listed tracks (using the “I like it!” button), then submit new ones. Those amassing the highest scores are listed on the Hits page. (Digg users should feel particularly at home with the interface.)

Trouble is, this brief overview doesn’t nearly do justice to the work behind this App. It’s jam-packed with features:

  • The circular play button next to each track title is a mini Flash music player – click it and you can listen to the whole song.
  • Want to listen to everything on the current page? Either use the long player bar at the top or click “m3u” on the top-right to download a playlist. (You can also add tunes to Webjay with the “playlist” button)
  • Fabricio’s made good use of Ning’s tagging features: the Tags page lets you browse by genre. (Remember to tag appropriately when you’re adding a tune!)
  • RSS feeds are available for every page, including tag listings, so it’s easy to get a constant feed of your favorite genres.
  • The user profile features are fantastic. Click the “me” link at the top of the page and you can set your user picture and message, along with choosing your preferred language and bookmarking service.
  • Similarly, clicking any username in the App shows you what that user has added and voted for – so if you find yourself agreeing with someone else’s taste, you can see what else they like.
  • CCHits is really suited to cloning, if you fancy forming your own music-blogging community. As ever, just hit “Clone this app!” in the sidebar.
  • Finally, the whole thing’s topped off with some deliciously-slick styling. Gorgeous!

We’d like to congratulate Fabricio on a fantastic piece of work. If you’re interested to know more about him, his work and why he chose to build CCHits on Ning, keep watching: I’ll be interviewing him for this blog very soon. In the meantime, dive in for some great free music!

We Are Fam-i-ly

family_screen.jpg

If you’re anything like me, you never have any idea how to contact your distant relatives to send extremely-belated thank-you-notes. And there’s no WAY you remember the recipe for Grandma’s super-secret cinnamon rolls, or when exactly Uncle Leo’s taking that trip to Europe.

Sure you could dig through your junk drawer looking for Aunt Edna’s cell number, or attempt to make the cinnamon rolls yourself (wouldn’t recommend it), but there’s now a better way!

Introducing Our Family, a new Ning app designed specifically for…well…families. What are some of the bells and whistles, you ask?

  • Discussion Forums: For lively family banter (“OMG! Cousin Fred got his girlfriend pregnant!” and such).
  • Photo Sharing: To help eliminate the neverending wave of email attachments…plus, as a bonus, with only one click you can put any uploaded photo on a shirt or mug! (Thanks, Zazzle!)
  • Family Profiles/Address Book with Google Maps: To give every family member their own page for contact information, interests and wishlists…plus the ability to see the entire family on a Google map.
  • Family Events Calendar: To keep up with birthdays, get-togethers, etc.
  • Recipe Sharing/Reviews: To help centralize all the family food secrets.

And most importantly, you have full privacy controls, to keep out unwanted visitors and keep it…wait for it…a family affair.

I’m here all night, folks! Tip your waitresses!

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!

Ning is visited by people in over 166 countries today. We’re pretty fired up about this little tidbit.

To this end, we’re going to kicking off internationalization and localization of Ning this summer. While we need to get a few other things out the door first, this is definitely a priority for us.

If there are other things that we can do to make Ning valuable around the world, drop us a line and let us know. We’ve got ideas but love to get your thoughts and suggestions too…

Have a great weekend!

Break Out the Champagne!

We just broke 12,000 social web apps on Ning. Wahoo!

Also, congrats are in order to Meg Frost and Cute Overload for their Webby award. Nice!

Things are busy here at Ning HQ. In fact, like alot of other people on the web, we have the bad habit of getting focused on product releases and not blogging about what we’re up to. It’s one pattern I’d like to change starting with this post. Feel free to keep me honest if I go MIA or if you don’t feel like this blog is doing a good job of communicating what’s happening at Ning.

So, what are we up to at Ning? Well, I’m glad that you asked. We’ve gotten some great feedback over the past eight months and right now the piece we’re working on is enabling maximum control over the visual design of apps. Afterall, it’s yours! We’re also rolling out built-in app search and a few other features that will make creating apps on Ning even more kick ass. We should have all of this out in the next month.

In the meantime, we’re going to be pushing out a Ning app for families next week, adding upgrades to This or That and Do I Rock?, and rolling out a few more enhancements to the REST API we launched a few weeks back.

We’ll keep you posted!

New faster-acting, longer-lasting Ning!

Please accept our apologies if you were inconvenienced by this weekend’s planned maintenance; the good news is that there should be rather less of it in future. The latest code release has had our boffins beavering away for the past month to ensure that the Ning Playground runs smoother with greater stability and fewer maintenance breaks. We’re still ironing out the last of the kinks in the new deployment, but it already looks like some Apps are running literally twice as fast.

What’s that? Resting on our laurels? Never! We’re already working on
more goodies, and you can be assured that the next set of improvements -
only a few weeks away – will be far more visible…

Ning Widgets for your blog or site

One of the habits we’ve recently caught at Ning is creating widgets – little mini-web-apps that you can embed in your own blog or website. If you’re a fan of CuteOverload you’ll probably have seen the Ning-powered miniature versions of What’s Cuter and CuteCaps.

(I can safely say probably as they’re already all over the web.) They’re not only easy to add to your blog – they’re an instant dash of cuteness; perfect for those “my website just doesn’t have enough kittens” moments.

One of the reasons we’ve been shouting about our cool new REST API recently is that it makes it even easier to build these kinds of widgets. As an example, check out these new demo widgets – the Wishlist widget, for example, can be embedded in your own site just by pasting four lines of HTML. Even better, you can point it at any clone of Wishlist, such as Thanksgiving, Cinecrap, Snakes On A Plane or a clone that you’ve created yourself. If you’re not sure how to do it, don’t fret – just watch this three-minute video in which I demonstrate and explain it in my comforting, slightly gravelly English tones.

If, on the other hand, you’re a web-developer type who’s so over copying and pasting someone else’s widget code and want to create some of your own, stay tuned! In an upcoming entry I’ll explain how we made these widgets, and what you need to code your own.