Ning Geo Pivot

Ning Geo Pivot

In the spring I was invited to beta test and develop within a mysterious project called 24 Hour Laundry, now ning. These folks really grokked developers, and I spent a chunk of the summer digging into the unique bits of this system: the content store, a freely structured database designed to evolve cooperative data formats (some similarities to the rumored Google Base); the common user registration pool (no one has nailed open identity yet); and the cooperative development process of View Source and Clone Application (modeled on Marc Andreessen’s own early web enabler).

I aimed to push against the boundaries of how apps and data were developed in this community context; specifically how to integrate Maps and Location into the core of the offering. My main app was Geotagger, adding geography to the content pivot. It provides an interface to geotag any piece of content in Ning, and build pivotable maps for inclusion in other apps, all without requiring app developers to write any code themselves.

The PHP API has code for including a Google Map. I pushed for additional methods to support geocoded RSS annotations. In the pre-launch frenzy, “loadRss” was built into an AlphaComponent. Sweet! This could encourage Ning contributing to, and partaking of, the larger Geospatial Web. Geotagger essentially published geoRSS based on content store geotags, and generated code for developers utilising the GMaps alphacomponent. I integrated geocoders directly in GMaps, and that’s MGeocoder.

Unfortunately, “Alpha” does mean that, and not all is working “loadRss”. I have some tests posted at testmap.php. The lack of “loadRss” derails the model of code & data sharing in Geotagger, so it’s now in “Under Construction” mode. I’m hoping that this quirk can be worked out, and my work on Geotagger launched fully. Then I can show off how to integrate it with another app (probably my NingPets derived Hamster).

The other mapping work in Ning is superb, like Restaurant Reviews with Maps and Anselm’s WorldWiki. However, they miss something crucial, in that Location is not really available in the rest of the Ning development community; it’s locked away in each apps silo. One intention of the Geospatial Web is the easy overlay, interaction, remixing of various opengeodata sources, and I’d love to see this come to fruition in Ning.