When an Amish family needs a new barn their community gathers to build a barn in a single day, a tradition called barn raising. In building a barn together in a day they achieve something that no single family can do.
I am very happy to announce the release of Dutch; our knowledge sharing network tool.
We stumbled across the idea of Dutch when we were playing a few weeks ago. We were looking at a way to share snippets of knowledge quickly - an example being links to web sites and videos. The idea is simple enough; can we create a tag and comment under it to create a tagcloud of knowledge.
Dutch gives you a simple way to make a tag (or a "network") under which you can post information and comment on other peoples information.
We give you a notifications screen where you can see activity from both networks you are a fan of and people you want to follow.
Forums have all sorts of tools to moderate and manage dialog. Dutch has non of these. Networks can be made by anyone and added to by anyone. The most popular networks filter up to the top naturally. Please play and resist the immediate urge to compare it to a forum:) It is a lightweight product and we want to focus on the knowledge sharing and social aspects of the tool.
We want to know what you think of it and examples of how you would use it.
We want to know about bugs and features that you like / dislike.
One "feature" that is not yet fully developed is that you can plug-in URL parsers. We have one for DIGG which today is hard coded with a Barnraiser account and we have one for Youtube which is a hack and does not make use of their API. Type in a Youtube URL as a contribution and you'll see it parse that URL into a thumbnail and link. Obviously we need to make a little "parser manager" and open this up so that people can write parsers for all sorts of web services.
Feel free to post comments, thoughts or any other feedback below.
Prairie is a lightweight OpenID based Internet identity server. Instead of registering at every web site with different username and password combinations you use your identity server to log you in.
Prairie is free software and released under the GPL (version 3) license. Please visit the Prairie product page at http://www.barnraiser.org/prairie for more information, downloads, case studies, guides and a technical specification.
We want your feedback
We wanted Prairie to be lightweight because it is easy to manage, customise and support when it is small. Prairie is 350KB without themes and language packs. It has 8 pages all of which allow themes to be added and templates to be customised. Added to that we have used Gettext making language packs easy to add and customise.
Whilst lightweight we wanted Prairie to look and feel nice to use. We have included two themes to choose from and a tool that allows account holder to make a nice graphic at the top of their profile page. So question 1; did we succeed in making Prairie look and feel nice to use?
Usability is important to us, but as an Alpha release we have not had time to test this yet. You may wish to read two earlier blogs about OpenID usability (the results of which are included in Prairie). Our goal is to make Prairie (and the OpenID authentication process) intuitive. Question 2; Is Prairie easy to use? Do you get stuck with any screens, fields or instructions?
OpenID authentication can assist visually impaired people. Imagine how difficult it must be today being faced with every web site offering a unique way to register. Giving them one authentication process to go through which is identical for every web site makes the web more accessible to them. We want to achieve this along with meeting all W3C web standards. This includes conformance level Triple-A of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities. Question 3; Have we achieved this?
Lastly for those of you wanting to play with code, we have introduced a MAPTCHA test at registration and on the profile page "contact me" form to test if the person registering/contacting me is human. We went with MAPTCHA over CAPTCHA to reach accessibility levels that we were happy with (blind people cannot read characters displayed within an image). Our MAPTCHA is already being bypassed by spammers and we want to know how. Question 4; how to stop we stop our MAPTCHA from being bypassed?
Feel free to post comments, thoughts, answers or any other feedback below.