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Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, March 21, 2000. Tuesday, March 21, 2000

Network problems that started Monday evening have now turned into an outage, our main LAN is disconnected, you can access Scripting News because it is at Exodus, not on our LAN. The EditThisPage.Com upgrade was completed in 38 minutes at 6:08pm Pacific yesterday. We're awaiting word from PacBell and Conxion on when the outage will be fixed.

EditThisPage.Com will get a hardware upgrade this evening, going from 500Mhz to 700Mhz. There will be an outage, hopefully no more than one hour, while we do the hardware switchover.

I had a phone talk with Brian Biles, VP-Marketing at VA Linux. I'm not sure he understood what I was asking for in the way of a relationship with a server vendor. It's basically the same relationship we offered to Cobalt. Help us form a sub-community of VA users, so we can study the product, understand where they're going and see if it makes sense to go there together. It's such a fluid market, and ultimately marketing through the Web, through all its channels, is how the market will segment. Imho of course.

What I want to do with a server vendor is what I talked about in How to Make Money on the Internet. Form a community around the product, learn from the people, and create products to make them ecstatic.

In the server market, there is no single outstanding vendor. By this time we should have a single default choice, one company that makes the best servers, who responds when there are problems, and has deep roots in the user community. No such vendor exists, but we're offering to try to help one of them become that.

Interestingly, Palm was able to do a stunning IPO and then attract a top-level management team, exploding yet another Silicon Valley belief that you have to form your full management team before raising public money.

Upside: A call for universal registration. "For example, if you are shopping online and decide that you'll buy a few things from,, and, and you are not a registered customer for each one, you can spend the better part of an hour in dial-up mode just registering yourself. And even if you have registered, all of these sites have different shopping cart implementations, different checkouts, and, sometimes, an assigned user identification moniker different from your real name." Do you doubt that user interface standards are coming?

Today we begin a two-week onsite meeting at UserLand. Andre is here, Brent is flying down from Seattle this morning. On Saturday we'll be at the March 25 ManilaPalooza gathering. Then we will have a full week to incorporate what we learned into our development plan for the next few months.

The March 25 meeting is free and open to the public. Even if you have a casual interest in our sites and services, you're welcome at the meeting. It's a function of the whole UserLand.Com and Scripting News community. We're there to listen and we'll also speak frankly and openly about our plans to grow our part of the Web. Even if you compete, you are welcome on Saturday.

What we will demo: First and foremost, we will demo Pike. We will have a website ready by Saturday so Manila users all over the world, even those who are not in Cupertino, will be able to download and use the software. It will be a free public beta.

What is Pike? It is an outliner that's been custom-fitted to plug into Manila sites. You can create and edit stories with Pike. You can use it to edit your home page. And you can also use it to edit the myriad of templates that define how a Manila site is rendered. It's both a writing and design tool.

Pike is as easy to use as a web browser but has the common features that web writers and designers need. Undo, Find and Replace, etc. And if you've never used an outliner, a bunch of surprises. Did you know that text has structure? That's the basic premise of an outliner.

Further, Pike is also a Web server. And an object database. And a programming platform. It's basically a limited version of Frontier with a carefully crafted user interface designed to hide the details, but if you know how to poke it, it's a full scripting, database, and server environment.

Even further, Pike is a homecoming, in so many ways. For me, it's the final step in a loop that began for me 22 years ago when I started working on outliners. To me they were always about groupware. Now, with all the pieces in place, a strong rendering engine and storage system, networking, and hypertext, we're ready to put the cap on the mountain. When Pike is successfully deployed, my lifetime work, from a software point of view, will be done. All that remains is getting the whole world to use it! Not a small thing.

For people who still use Frontier 5, the last free version, this could also be a homecoming. Pike is built from the same codebase as Frontier 6.1, and it will track the development of Frontier. We will release new versions of Pike as we release new versions of Frontier. Pike is for Mac and Windows, there is no difference between the two versions. Pike may also satisfy the ever-present request for "Frontier Runtime". Pike will be free, at least in the first release, so it's a chance for everyone who stayed with the free version of Frontier to graduate to all the new stuff. However, if you want to deploy a real server that lots of people can use, you must license Frontier for US$899.

What else will we demo? Well, that's still up for grabs. We're basically done with static rendering of Manila sites, which, if you choose to use it, will turn Manila into an editorial system, and offload serving of your site to server software such as Apache, IIS and WebSTAR. I'd also like to demo the connection between a Manila plug-in and a Pike plug-in, showing how Frontier developers can create custom editorial systems with very high-level interfaces. We can't possibly demo all this stuff, and still leave lots of room for the community to speak and organize. So we will focus on things that are best demo'd face-to-face.

And face-to-face is what the meeting is all about. When an online community gets together in a room sparks will fly. Hopefully everyone will be in good cheer! If there are any issues you need to raise that might not be in good cheer, I hope we get a heads-up on them *before* the meeting on Saturday. Thanks.

Jacob Levy: "I'll be there, but not the whole day. Could we have an agenda so I can plan which part of the day to attend."

My answer: "Jacob, it's not a whole-day meeting, it's 1PM to 5PM with an informal no-host dinner at a local restaurant afterwards."

Thanks to De Anza College for hosting the March 25 meeting. What a great place, with all that personal computing history, to host the first ManilaPalooza community arts festival!


Last update: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 at 3:31 PM Eastern.

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