Technology Blog, by: David Monaghan.

Ning.com, a Free Social Web Application Host.

Posted by David on April 15, 2006

You may have read about Ning recently on WebMonkey, if not I recommend you read it; What Is A Ning?

For those who haven't read the article, looked at Ning.com, or haven't heard about it elsewhere, Ning.com is a web service which allows anyone to create, copy, and host web applications on the Ning framework. The Ning framework consists of a web server, MySQL, PHP, many PEAR modules, the Ning Content Store, the Ning PHP API and the Ning PHP Components API. Included in the Ning API's are some nice time savers like bloging, comments, tags, and more interestingly hooks into external APIs like Flickr's, Google Map's, etc. The title of this article suggests that Ning is free and it is but, the free service offers 1GB of public content and 100MB of private content for free, the source code of a freely hosted Ning application is public and released under an open source license allowing other users of Ning to use it indefinitely. Google AdSense advertisements are places on all free applications as well though currently they are allowing users to customize their ads and aren't running any at all by default. Alternatively subscriptions can be purchased to enable various features like custom or no ads, private source code, and more storage. If you ask me this is a really nice service model and is more than accommodating to free users and paid members alike, I'm working on a couple of free apps right now, one I copied and one I started from 'scratch' (if you feel comfortable calling it that).

So what can you do with Ning? First let me address those who aren't PHP literate; You don't have to code to use Ning. To say Ning is a free social web application host could mean a few things, what I intend to describe is a free social web application which allows users to host their own web applications (social or not). What makes Ning a social web application is the way they allow sharing of source code between users of the service, any Ning member can literally copy a web application to their account essentially allowing them to host (and modify) it. Now I'll address you developers out there; The control is yours, make that new MySpace, Blogger, Digg, del.icio.us, Flickr, and add those features they ignored in your emails (I don't personally hold any grudge against the named companies more than any other, they just appear as I thought of them, I have emailed these companies and many more like them with feature requests/bug fixes; I mean less to single them out than I do to use them as examples). The Ning.com site has a built in file browser and text editor which works just fine but I prefer to use my local GVim which Ning let's me do via SFTP (so any other IDE capable of using SFTP can be used as well).

I just started using Ning last weekend and haven't spent much time evaluating it so I apologize for the lack of information about the service and the company behind it. If you are wondering if this article is part of the 'Long List of Web Applications' series, yes and no. I plan on editing this and a couple other articles for use in that subject but first I have to create catagories (which is waiting on a solid function list) and retrieve more information. Be sure to check out Ning.com (http://ning.com) in the mean time.


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