Ning - social application development playground

A few days ago, most likely after reading Jesse's post, I peeked at Ning, a free online playground for anyone interested in building (and using) social applications. That far it sounded great, and so does their policies on submitted code and content; it's basically about the Creative Commons Attribution License applied sanely, and making it very easy for other developers to clone, tweak and extend their own versions of your code (and optionally and if you don't mind, the data your application has gathered up).

I got cold feet though, upon reading more about the technology behind it. Really silly, but just enough for me to lose interest for the moment, not blog a reminder to myself about what the place was called, or anything else to help me get back for a second glance. It's PHP based and you even get to play your own PHP code in their sandbox, if you want to. I don't. Nor would I need to, from what I understand of the smallish XML data transaction language they seem to have invented for people like me, but I still felt deterred enough to shy away like the plague, holding very low opinions of PHP, and really enjoying my not having to deal with any of it, in first person singular.

Today I swayed a bit, upon again getting a slight itch I would like to scratch, some day, by making a nice online social application for blog related things I'd need and which Blogger does not already provide me with. (Being a cheapskate and a lazy bastard, I neither find myself a good web hotel which allows me to set up my own server side file system and ajax enabled data store, nor self host anything important; the systems administration bores me to death. Hence Blogger.)

I want a comment system that provides RSS and/or ATOM feeds for comments for specific posts. More customizable feeds for posted articles. A trackback system that ties back into the presentation of my posts, giving easily overviewable remote articles on the same and similar topics as my posts. Tags integration and navigation though my posts. Calendar navigation that does more than the rather measly one I have at the moment (it doesn't link to permalinks, it doesn't show post titles when hovering a date, and it adds artificial constraints on your post template that make every page needlessly large).

And I figured Ning just might be the place to build things like these, adding the two very nice benefits of at the same time making for every other blogger systems to just knit in with their own blogs to achieve the same ends (for free, too) and, if they are not content with the exact look, feel and functionality of mine, making it as dead easy as it gets to pick up my code and beat it to do what it lacks. Just the way web (or indeed any kind of) development should be.

So if Ning does allow me to upload some small static javascript files (need these for basic functionality and tying the AJAX bindings from my blog tools to the Ning data store), and hopefully images and HTML pages too (so others can clone all the needed bits each application needs) besides those "web 1.0 style" pages who still serve us the majority of the web in-your-faces, I should evaluate their tools, PHP inside or not.

(See? You won't have to shoot me; I didn't say "web 2.0". ...D'oh!)
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