Category Archives: Developer

Building Outside The Frame: Aviary Ning Extension Allows For Integrated Photo Editing

Today, we’re excited to unveil the Aviary Ning Extension, a tool that can increase member engagement and inject fun and utility into Ning social websites using photos feature.

The Big Picture

Photo sharing continues to be one of the most popular features on Ning, second only to the inbox/forum. By working closely with Aviary (www.aviary.com), a leading provider of creative web and mobile tools, we make photo sharing even more powerful and fun for your community through the Ning API.

Our priority is to provide the best social experience for Ning Creators; we’re constantly pushing the innovation envelope through product development and partnerships. By strategically partnering with the best-in-class providers and services, like we’ve done with Aviary today, and uStream and SoundCloud earlier this year, we can roll-out new functionality even faster.

The new Aviary extension lets Ning Plus and Pro Creators and members easily edit photos directly in a Ning Network. It’s easy to make useful tweaks like cropping and red-eye reduction; editing the contrast, brightness and colors; adding text to photos; and — if you’re feeling creative and playful — placing “stickers” like mustaches, hats and sunglasses directly onto the images of people and objects in your photos.

As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Aviary’s Ning Extension gives people the freedom to make these changes on the fly, meaning these creative tweaks happen directly within Ning Networks and lets you speak volumes, such as on PetBrags.com:

How it Works

Ning Creators and members have always been free to express themselves, and now, our partnership with Aviary opens the floodgates for letting them do so in a new, unique and fun way. Aviary’s suite can be applied across Ning Networks and even integrates with making changes to member profile photos — now, it’s never been easier to show off your personality!

Once Aviary is up and running, simply hover your mouse over a photo you want to edit and you’ll see a “Photo Stickers & Effects” option. This will start up Aviary’s editor and encourage you to apply updates, transformations and filters to your photo. Once the changes you want to make are complete, click on “Save” and the modified photo will be saved back to the Ning Network.

To activate the Aviary Ning Extension, just head to your network dashboard and visit the Ning Extensions page (under Tools). Once there, click “Activate” to turn it on. For troubleshooting visit this Ning Help Center article.

Introducing Ning Pro, Ning Plus and Ning Mini

I’m excited to introduce three new versions of the Ning Service that we will roll out in July. When we announced two weeks ago that we were going to refocus on paying Ning Networks and phase out our free service, we knew there would be many questions about what the new Ning would look like. Our goal with these offerings — as explained below — is to enhance the experience Network Creators have on Ning, and by extension, the experiences your members have as well.

What will we be rolling out in July? We’ll start with many of the things Network Creators have been asking for and extend the service from there. The end of Ning promotional links, leading to a more customized, branded experience for you and your members. An ad free experience and the option to run your own ads — if you like. Easy content export and back-up. The end of Ning ID and ability to add Facebook and Twitter sign-in. API access for a more integrated experience. The ability to charge for membership and accept donations. We’ve listened to your more frequent and pressing requests and combined them with our current premium services into three new product offerings — Ning Pro, Ning Plus and Ning Mini.

Ning MiniThe simplest and fastest way to set up a social network for your classroom, community group, small nonprofit or family Ning PlusThe tools and features you need to build and grow a branded social network with high engagement – an incredible value at a great price Ning ProThe ideal solution for building a comprehensive social experience, including additional features, integration, support and bandwidth
$2.95/month

or $19.95/year* (save 44%)

$19.95/month

or $199.95/year* (save 16%)

$49.95/month

or $499.95/year* (save 17%)

Up to 150 members Unlimited members Unlimited members
Full control over your branding and member experience Full control over your branding and member experience
Features include blogs, photos, forum and video embeds Full feature set including events, groups, chat, pages and Ning Apps Full feature set plus video and music uploads and branded players
Simple customization options Advanced customization options including CSS, Javascript and the Language Editor Advanced customization options, plus the API access upgrade when launched
Includes run your own ads Includes run your own ads, use your own domain and remove Ning links Includes run your own ads, use your own domain, remove Ning links and add storage and bandwidth
Community-based support Help Center support Premium support

* One-time annual pricing

For full comparison of the three plans, click here.

Our pricing plans offer incredible value relative to our current Premium Services. For example, your Ning Network currently has the option to Use Your Own Domain, Remove Create Links, and Run Your Own Ads. You can take advantage of all of these services for about $55/month right now. With Ning Plus, you’ll be able to have them all for $19.95/month. We will also offer current Network Creators a one-time annual pricing discount that provides even greater value.

We also recognize that many small non-profit, family or other small group Ning Networks have limited budgets, and we value what you’ve created on Ning. For $2.95/month or $19.95/year, Ning Mini provides a powerful set of features to continue to grow and engage with your members — ad-free or with your own ads.

We’ve also heard from many Network Creators who use Ning in the classroom as an integral part of their curriculum. I am particularly excited to announce that a major education company will be sponsoring Ning Mini Networks for educators in primary and secondary education. Ning will remain free for K-12 educators and their students. We’ll have details on this program soon!

We will roll out Ning Pro, Ning Plus and Ning mini in July. Current Network Creators will have 30 days following the roll-out to decide which plan best fits their needs.  For Ning Creators using our free service who choose to move to another service, we will offer a simple way to export all of your content.

We know there’s a lot of questions, including how to choose a plan, when you can sign up and what happens if you don’t choose an option. That’s why we’ve created a place with all the details about this new offering, including details, a timeline and FAQs (also available in Spanish, here). I look forward to your feedback, both in the comments below and on Creators.

Only Two Weeks Left in the Ning Developer Challenge

developer_challenge

The Ning Developer Challenge — which kicked off at Campus Party 2010 in São Paulo, Brazil — is a worldwide OpenSocial development competition focused on applications devoted to public management, environment and entrepreneurship. The winner in each of these three categories will receive a $3,000 (US dollars) award.

Entries are due by March 19th, 2010. Read more about the challenge here. Good luck!

Magazine-style content, courtesy of feedly

thecorner

Note: As of April 2, the feedly Ning App is temporarily unavailable.

As Network Creator, you can create a Ning Network about a topic you find interesting. And chances are, you probably read a lot of stuff online to stay up-to-date — you read blogs, web magazines, online journals, things like that. You could go read every piece of content one website at a time, but there are different web applications that let you read online content in one handy place.

One tool that let’s you do this, is recent Ning Appathon winner feedly, which was originally created as a browser toolbar that grabs the content of blogs and other pages around the internet, and then displays it in a magazine-style format. Think of it as a feed reader like Google Reader, but with a really pretty presentation.

How is this useful for your Ning Networks? Simple — if you already read a bunch of content from around the web from sources you already trust, feedly allows you to publish these really pretty pages to your Ning Networks. Do you run a Ning Network on hip-hop culture and just happen to bookmark a lot of hip-hop sites on your browser? You can use feedly to take articles or blog posts from those web pages, wrap them up in a pretty package, and then show it off as a page on your Ning Network for your members to browse. It’s a little bit like having your own customized magazine that edits itself!

Continue reading

Ning Apps for the Holidays

ningapps_holiday

With the holidays upon us, I’d love to suggest a few Ning Apps that can help make the season brighter, more generous and possibly even a little more fun:

SocialGiving
Help support those that are less fortunate by donating to registered charities around the world.

Ustream
Stay connected with family, friends and fellow network members via live video streaming. You can even use your iPhone to do a live broadcast of your New Year’s Eve antics.

Offbeat Guides
Generate and purchase a custom travel guide to help streamline your holiday journey, whether that journey goes through Coronado or Astoria.

Tungle.me
Coordinate busy holiday schedules with Tungle’s easy-to-use scheduling app. It syncs with Outlook, Google Calendar, iCal and Entourage, so you won’t miss any of the action.

Kyle Ford, Ning’s Director of Partner Design & Development, thinks that people in the U.S. should also install the Hulu app so that their members can watch clips from Babes in Toyland.

An Interview with Apps.IO’s Benjamin Cavanaugh

From making it simple to post a classified ad, to providing a way to visually map members, the Ning Apps created by Apps.IO are adding new and interesting functionality to the Ning Networks they are installed on. Their newest Ning App, Listings, was a finalist in the Best Original Ning App category in the recently held Ning Appathon competition. Apps.IO President Benjamin Cavanaugh chatted with us about the origin of the company, the apps they’ve created, and offered up some tips for developers looking to get started developing on the Ning Platform.

Tell me a little bit about Apps.IO?
photo-01935734Apps.IO develops integrated hosted application features for social websites. Apps.IO’s products range from simple features to social content collaboration systems. In addition to offering free versions of our apps, we also offer premium advertising-free versions of our apps.

How did you decide to start developing on the Ning Platform? How long have you been working with Ning?
We started developing on the Ning Platform primarily because we saw a significant demand for add-on features for Ning Networks. We’ve been familiar with the Ning Platform since early 2007.

Had you ever used the OpenSocial API before developing?
Actually no. While we had heard about it when it was officially announced, our first introduction to actually using the OpenSocial API was while developing apps for the Ning Apps Platform.

What types of apps have you created? How do you come up with the ideas for your Ning Apps?
To date, we’ve created four apps that are already available in the Ning Apps Directory.

  • Listings, our most recent app, allows network members to easily post classified ad listings. It’s very customizable, and supports custom categories and custom listing fields.
  • Answers, a collaboration app, allows members to easily ask questions and crowd-source answers with other members of a network.
  • Member Map, allows network members to share their location on a network-wide Member Map.
  • Contact Page, adds a tab to your network with a simple customizable email contact form.

Customer feedback is essential when considering what to potentially develop. While we do have a general product road-map, we also have received ideas from customer requests.

Are there particular types of Ning Networks that you have in mind when you choose to develop a given Ning App?
We keep a wide variety of network types in mind throughout the development process, from professional to personal type networks. We also try to offer customization options that allow for an even wider range of uses for our apps.

What advice would you give to people who might be interested in developing on Ning?
If you’re new to developing on Ning, the Ning Developer Network is a great place to start, it’s full of helpful tips as well as links to important OpenSocial related sites. When developing your app, take advantage of the Latest Activity feed to help increase member engagement. It’s key to remember each Ning Network is unique and has its own demands.

Is there anything else you want to add?
If you’re currently using one of our apps and would like to stay updated about our services, or are interested in learning more about our apps, the best place to start is at our own Ning Network: The Apps.IO Customer Community.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at how to add the Listings Ning App to your Ning Network if you want to integrate a classifieds feature.

Announcing the Ning Appathon Winners

Appathon

We’re excited to announce the results of our first global Ning Appathon!

After all the votes were tallied, Feedly Magazines took home the $5,000 prize for best original application and Sharendipity won the $4,000 prize for best ported application.

Submissions for our weeklong competition were judged by Wired Editor-in-chief and DIY Drones Network Creator Chris Anderson, Ning Chairman and Co-founder Marc Andreessen, and blogger and Managing Director of building43 Robert Scoble. The competition began on Nov. 5 with all submissions due on Nov. 12. The entrants were judged on creativity, usability, how well they integrate with Ning Networks, viral features, and usefulness.

“Developing on the Ning Platform allows us to create apps that can reach hundreds — to hundreds of thousands — of members across a single Ning Network instantly, something we can’t find on any other platform,” said Edwin Khodabakchian, developer of the winning app, Feedly Magazines. “With our Ning App, Network Creators can curate and compile their own magazine with content unique to the topic of their Ning Network and interests of their members.”

In addition to the two winning submissions, the judges also picked four finalists for recognition. The developers of two finalist original Ning Apps and two finalist ported Ning Apps each received $500.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Best Original Ning App

  • Feedly Magazines to add a custom magazine application (winner)
  • Snipi to enable sharing of favorite content from the Web (finalist)
  • Listings to post classified ads, developed by Apps.IO (finalist)

Best Ported Ning App

  • Sharendipity to make custom web applications and widgets (winner)
  • NutshellMail to create daily digests of emails from a Ning Network (finalist)
  • Ortist to share drawings and creations through a graphical scrapbook (finalist)

Along with the winning Ning Apps (which will soon be added to the Ning Apps directory), two additional Ning Apps that we’ve been working on in-house are now ready for install, Opinion and Top Friends. The Opinion Ning App allows Network Creators to pose a question to members and then view their responses in a tag cloud or list. With the Top Friends Ning App, members can list and organize their top friends on a given Ning Network.

If you’re interested in building a Ning App, http://developer.ning.com is the place to start. For a complete list of Ning Apps, please visit http://developer.ning.com/ningapps.

Announcing our Worldwide Ning Appathon Competition

Let the games begin! At last night’s Ning Appathon kickoff event at the Ning offices in Palo Alto, we started a week-long worldwide app development competition for the recently launched Ning Apps platform.

WHAT: The Ning Appathon is a week-long OpenSocial development competition with prizes for both original and ported applications. Judges include Ning Chairman and Co-founder Marc Andreessen, Wired Editor-in-chief and DIY Drones Network Creator Chris Anderson, and blogger and Managing Director of building43 Robert Scoble.

WHERE: The competition is open to participants worldwide. Visit the Ning Developer Network for details and Ning Apps documentation.

WHEN: The competition began at our kickoff event on November 5th. All entries must be submitted via http://developer.ning.com/appathon by 10 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, November 12th.

PRIZES: The Grand Prize for Best Original App is $5,000 (US). The Grand Prize for Best Ported App is $4,000 (US). Two Original App and Ported App finalists (four total) will each receive $500 (US). All six winners will also receive prominent editorial placement in the Ning Apps directory.

Please visit the Ning Developer Network for more information. Good luck!

Announcing the Ning Appathon

Appathon

Following last month’s Ning Apps launch, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be holding a special developer event called the Ning Appathon at our offices in Palo Alto, CA on Thursday, November 5th from 6pm-10pm.

The event will include:

  • An overview of Ning Apps and our OpenSocial implementation
  • Presentations from existing Ning Apps developers
  • A chance to meet members of the Ning Engineering and Developer Advocacy teams
  • Free pizza and beer : )

Most importantly, we’ll be announcing the start of a week-long app development competition which will include awards for new applications in addition to ported applications. Prizes and details will be revealed at the event.

To learn more and join the fun, RSVP here. Hope to see you there!

A Little Company News…

We’ve recently finalized a partnership with Scripts4Ning to integrate their features directly into Your Own Social Network on Ning. For the vast majority of you, this will have no impact, except that we’ll shortly be offering many of these features directly on the 600,000 social networks on the Ning Platform.

For the close to 600 Network Creators who have purchased monthly access to Scripts4Ning’s array of features, here’s the plan:

  1. Your scripts will continue to work as they do today on your network, but you will no longer be charged for access. They will now be free.
  2. As we roll out direct support for a feature previously offered as a script from Scripts4Ning, we’ll work with you to ensure a smooth transition from the current version of the feature to the new one. We’ll also be working to improve the performance and seamless upgrades of the Scripts4Ning scripts you have running.
  3. During this transition, the Scripts4Ning social network will become a private social network for existing members and Scripts4Ning will not be available to new customers.

We’re excited to expand the great work the Scripts4Ning team began and to continue delivering more features and choices for Your Social Network on Ning. We look forward to uphold the great service that Scripts4Ning offered Network Creators who subscribed to them. The Scripts4Ning team is in the process of launching an exciting new business focused on OpenSocial application development and you can see what they’re up to here.

We’ve added additional information about this announcement here in the Ning Help Center. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a note with additional questions on this transition. Thanks!