I’m not sure how unique this concept is but I’m leaning in this direction with Broadcastr. Every solo project I've worked on this past year in some way has to be different. Broadcastr my most recent endeavor is doing just this, taking things we know and presenting them just a bit, differently. They don't always start off this way, Planet Lotus started as LotusReport.com, a knock off of the Drudge Report for the Lotus community but when it became too time consuming to maintain I automated it, I then took that data and presented it way we're all use to, an inbox. Now Broadcastr is taking similar twists and turns.
It started simple, a enterprise ready micro-blogging platform delivered as a VM. You simply download open it on a VM server and you're ready to go. The authentication would be made simple by Domino LDAP. I also wanted to offer a hosted solution or at minimum a web demo. This proved difficult. I was educated by Nathan Freeman while trying to integrate Bleed Yellow’s LDAP server with Broadcastr.net on the concept of man in the middle attack. You can't simply host an application where you enter your username and password on my site and I authenticate that info against your companies public (or secure) LDAP.... you would have to be very trusting to let that happen given the impotence of the Notes username and httppassword.
Just weeks into development I had a prototype up and running. The problem was you had to register at planetlotus.org and then go back and tool around a very open public site. It is, and was, a very forgettable demo experience, since I’m shooting for the enterprise this isn't a very authentic approach.
How to demo it better? That started about 2 weeks ago while out at dinner. During a conversation on the project my friend enlightened me on the concept of Garden Walls. The concept is beautiful in its simplicity. In a nutshell, Facebook is too open. My family, high school buddies and professional contacts are all learning too much about me. A Facebook with Garden Walls would fix this, put up walls between the fart jokes and the professional contacts. My prototype needed said walls.
Today, the garden walls went up, now how to demo it? In steps a google search on a site i didn't even know existed, to be honest I didn’t do too much research before starting this project. The site; Yammer, just launched in September and the front page had the solution, a simple request for a company email address. That was it. Base the garden (or in Broadcastr terms the 'Market") on your company email address. Soon you'll be able test Broadcastr with your coworkers, or other yahoo.com, or gmail.com users.
Here comes the different business model. Something from the start of the project mixed with something learned later on. Yammer's business model is to give you a base level micro-blogging platform in the cloud, but you have to pay to get additional administrative control and other features. The broadcastr.net demo will also be free (with-in reason) but the purchase will be for the VM version of the offing to be downloaded and housed inside your company. Once started on your VM server the web version’s data will expunged and replaced with a forward link to its new, on property, inside your firewall, location.
I wrote most of this blog post on the ride home from work today. I find it very interesting that Andrew Pollack wrote on this very topic, even mentioning "marrying the cloud". If you read his 4 very insightful posts you’ll see that this model of dabbling with the cloud version and purchasing it as a VM addresses some of the concepts he raises.
Keep an eye on broadcastr.net for the new and improved offering. Invite your coworkers, speed date the cloud offering for your company and if you like it, marry the VM, together you’ll raise beautiful megabytes.
The list of features keeps growing. My favorite, a version of twitter that sits behind the firewall, in this case behind a successful Planet Lotus registration. In short, search engines won't pick up your posts and you can post freely from Loti to Loti, I don't plan on making this module public.
Other new features, Group and Project support. That's right, create a group, say Priceless Quotes, and post messages. Anyone following it will have your quote/post show up on their page. Image support is also up and running. If you've already checked it out, feel free to go back and upload your (twitter?) profile image. @username is also live, as is RSS feeds, posting urls, etc.
planetlotus.org/broadcastr/ Since the end game is a product you can download and use in your organization, some for the features lean towards enterprise use.
- Project Support, anyone can create a project, anyone can follow that project and post messages to its page.
- Group Support, post messages to your existing Domino Directory groups or create your own.
- Domino LDAP authentication
- Customizable post length, default is 256 characters, system admin can change
- Personal Groups, coming soon, create your own groups, manage the members and quickly post messages to @mygroup which in turn posts directs to @groupmember1, @ groupmember2, etc.
- URL's will automatically be converted to a clickable url with the url as a name or can be overridden to defined value like "Link", the tool tip will expose the actual url.
- @username. Post multiple direct messages in one post.
- Email addresses convert to clickable mailto links.
- Detailed views, most active groups, users, projects, most followed, etc.
- Ability to toggle use of image/avatars or generic more general icons. (defined by system administrator).
- Ability to view posts displayed like twitter with limited detail or more verbose information as seen on Facebook wall.
- View newly activated users.
- Full search of users, groups, project.
- RSS feeds of user posts, more feeds to follow. (the current feeds work, are readable, just don't link anywhere; yet).
- Installs as a lightweight ubuntu VM, not yet available.
UPDATE: This has been moved to http://broadcastr.net
Feel free to kick the tires. It uses your myPL login information.
There are some missing pieces, rss, pagination, etc. They'll get there in over time. Feel free drop the project "Broadcastr Comments" an idea or two or if you have to "Broadcastr Bugs". Maybe the application will help in making the application better.
Before you enter remember one thing, its Twitter meets Facebook "Wall", it has some of each. Essentially you can use @yancylent or you can just go to my wall and post me a message. There will be other micro-blogging fusion going in over time, for example, posting to a "project" or a Domino Directory group, so everyone in the group gets the post even if you or they arn't following, or everyone in your "Location" as defined by the Location (or Department) field in the Domino Directory person document.
I plan to have a hosted version available in the coming months and a version as a VM appliance sometime after Lotusphere. Drop me a line (yancy at teratechie dot com) if you're intrested in a demo site for your company.