Wednesday, December 1, 1999 by Dave Winer.
"Writing for the web is too damned hard. It turns you into a bookkeeper. I've got files all over my hard disk and their counterparts on the server. I can't keep track of them. When I'm reading a web page that I wrote, if I spot a mistake, I have to execute 23 complicated error-prone steps to make the change."
That was the problem of writing for the web. Two navigation systems. A human caught in the middle.
Well that's over now. We cracked the barrier. Editing a website is now as easy as *using* a website.
That's Manila. Edit This Page in a web browser.
A content management system for the rest of us!
Easy easy easy.
Kevin Werbach, managing editor of Release 1.0 said: "Manila is as simple or as deep as you want it to be. Few other Web products scale well in both directions -- you either wind up with easy-to-use homepage-building tools that can't handle dynamic sites, or you have complicated, expensive content-management platforms that aren't helpful for beginners or small sites. Manila lets anyone set up an interactive web site quickly and easily, without any client-side software, but that site can grow into a sophisticated, high-traffic site on the same platform."
My translation of what Kevin says: Manila is a software product that interfaces thru any web browser, in the same way that earlier products I created interfaced thru a dumb terminal, then a character-based PC, and then thru a windowing system. We've finally got real software running in a web browser, without using plug-ins, Java applets, DHTML, or any unreliable not widely deployed or not-standardized technology. It's true that the web browser is severely limited as a writing environment but it's what the people want, me too, so that's where we go.
BTW, Kevin is running a Manila site:
If you're keeping a Dave Winer scrapbook, copy and paste this.
I wrote a real press release! Yow. Haven't written one of those since the Internet Age started. It's a discipline. The tone is different. But you can still have fun.
"Manila replaces HTML editors, word processors, FTP clients and groupware such as Lotus Notes, with the simplest writing environment of our day, the Web browser," said Winer.
Is that still me? You bet. But I'm wearing a suit when I say that, and that's OK. There are times to wear a soooot. And times to not.
The press release is the second item on this page:
(The url on the PR Newswire site is not email-friendly.)
Now a little net philosophy. Some slogans work their way into the consciousness of all who use the Internet. "You have mail," while it probably was popularized by AOL, belongs to the Internet. It causes a visceral reaction. I have mail. Wow. I wonder if someone has something interesting or appreciative to say to me. That's what comes up for me, even though my emailer doesn't say You Have Mail. (I wish it did.)
Another net slogan: It Worked!
It's what a web server says when it was successfully installed. It's a great message, like a pat on the back, or a bow from the waist as a door is opened for you. Here, sir or madam, is your new website. It's yours, it's blank, and it works.
One of our goals for Manila was to shorten the time from purchase to It Worked. We've got it pretty short. Bob Bierman, one of the guys here at UserLand.Com, says "You can hold your breath." It's true. After downloading the software, you can be editing your site in less than 20 seconds. That's a pretty amazing accomplishment, in my humble opinion.
People love Manila. That is so cool. We have lots of things that have been on hold, in the pipe, waiting for Manila to ship. There will be a bunch of add-ons, complementary applications that build on the vision of web writing for everyone.
One final note. The the title of the last DaveNet piece was just right. We're all on the ground floor of the most exciting opportunity in the business of technology. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web said it first -- the web is a two-way medium.
The challenge was to make the software do it. With Manila we got there. There surely will be others. But it's important to remember that we're all newbies. No one knows how it will go from here. But the feeling of empowerment is real. Let's learn and grow together. Let's have fun!
PS: They say all the good domain names are taken. Well, on Sunday we registered ItWorked.Com. Moral of the story? Don't believe everything they say. ;->
PPS: YouHaveMail.Com was, unfortunately, taken.
PPPS: Why is it called Manila? Good question. Sounds like Vanilla. Simple. It's a place in the Far East like Java. A code name, like Mozilla. And if you accidentally leave out one character it becomes Mania. Excellent!