Ning the Merciful

posted on October 21st, 2005 by Anthony

What a shame!

Ning is a site, which makes it easy (well at least er) for people to build community style web sites and apps.

You know the type (and don’t pretend you don’t!): Guilty pleasure sites like ‘Hot or Not‘, Rate My… Body, Face, Kitten, Implants (probably not work safe…) and er Poo (er yes that’s Rate My Poo…) !

There are sensible apps too, like reviews, photo sharing, dating services, and message boards if you’re into that sort of thing.

I applied for a developer beta account a while back, and it finally came through yesterday. So with seconds of thought behind the process I plumped for a simple ‘This or That?’ site, delved straight in, and setup Uber Squad World XI – none of that sensible stuff for me!

The premise is simple – pit the world’s best footballers against each other in head to head ‘battles’ (I’m trying to think of a better name) to pick the Uber Squad World XI!

Using Ning is pretty easy, you don’t need to know any php, and you can launch a site without too much bother.

You choose the base app that you like, and then click the ‘clone this app’ link. That pulls all the source code into your account. You fill in a few options, and you’re away to start uploading you pics – it’s that simple!

So that gets you off an running. If you want to start making changes, that’s when at least some knowledge of php comes in handy – well I say handy, I of course mean if you don’t know anything – stay the *$&! away!

I have to say the Ning’s User Interface can be a bit inconsistent and confusing, and it can take a while to wrap your head around where things are placed, but overall it gets the job done.

As Ning is still in beta I have encountered a few teething problems, for instance there seems to be a bug in which the pictures disappear if you edit objects in the database – but the help (so far!) has been top notch.

Finding the right place to ask, though, can be tricky.

For instance I wanted people to be able to participate in the site without being logged in – which is way beyond my php comfort zone. So I hunted around in the forums and things for a while, but came up blank. Eventually I found the ‘This or That?’ discussion page that allowed me to contact the developer directly.

He quickly pointed me in the direction of a few lines that need to be commented out, and Bob’s Yer Community Neighbour – it’s all working! (Thanks Tim!)

I’m planning to grow the site, I think this will be a good way to stretch my php wings a bit – and hopefully in a way that won’t see me crash and burn like a web enabled Icarus!

Obviously a new front end for the Uber Squad will have to be forthcoming, but I’ll get this ReBoot malarkey out of the way before any of that!

Overall Ning is quite an interesting project, and great way to increase your skill set.

However I’m not sure how an avalanche of samey ‘Rate My…’ sites will benefit the web…

The again, how about a Rate My Site Site?

A Stylegala killer if ever I there was one…