About the Author

Chris Shiflett

Hi, I’m Chris: web craftsman, community leader, husband, father, and partner at Fictive Kin.

Ning Launches

Earlier this year, I received an email from Marc Andreessen inquiring about some PHP security consulting. Being well aware of Marc's role in Internet history, I was curious to learn about his new project and eager to help out.

Others were also curious, but not in a very supportive way. Mark Fletcher had this to say about Marc's company:

Who knows what they do, but whatever it is, they're doing it wrong.

Well, now you can judge for yourself - Ning lives!

Ning is an attempt to lower the barrier of entry for creating social applications. The idea is that there are plenty of great ideas out there for these things, but the barrier of entry prevents many of them from coming to fruition. It's also a hassle for users of social applications to have to create a different account for every one.

One interesting thing about Ning (aside from the fact that PHP plays such a major role) is that it is open source in nature - you can clone any Ning application (some exist specifically for this purpose) and "mix" it to suit your needs. Ning describes this as "clone, mix, and run."

It will be interesting to see what sort of applications this yields.

On a different note, I was also happy to hear that my book went to print yesterday. The two biggest reasons why I've had no time these past few months are finally finished. Now I can sleep. :-)

About this post

Ning Launches was posted on Tue, 04 Oct 2005. If you liked it, follow me on Twitter or share:


1.Hans Albers said:

You have made an audit for www.ning.com?

Wed, 05 Oct 2005 at 12:27:30 GMT Link

2.Chris Snyder said:

Holy cow, that rocks... and is a little scary! Did they NDA you, or can you talk about what sort of fences exist in their "playground" to keep developers from playing dirty?

After looking at Ning for three minutes I have a billion questions. What an interesting place.

Wed, 05 Oct 2005 at 12:40:32 GMT Link

3.Chris Shiflett said:

Hans, I didn't exactly audit www.ning.com in terms of the generic user interface you see (although I did inspect parts of it). My focus was on the architecture and more critical aspects of the application. If you think about it, allowing users to develop PHP applications is very dangerous, so a large part of my work was trying to mitigate that risk. The people behind Ning understand those risks very well, and there is a certain amount of trust being given to people granted a developer account.

Chris, I did sign an NDA. You can probably find the answer to most questions you have just by experimenting with your own Ning application. A great deal of my research involved exactly that. :-)

Thu, 06 Oct 2005 at 03:11:27 GMT Link

4.Brian Agne said:

Go Golden Eagles! ;)

Do the developers control their PHP configurations? Check out this app on NING: http://bulldogster.ning.com/

As of 9:30am EDT, PHP is barfing up errors in the "Newest Bulldog" section. Someone should tell them to disable display_errors. Log files are your friend...

Thu, 06 Oct 2005 at 13:34:07 GMT Link

5.Chris Shiflett said:

Brian, display_errors is something that you can set with ini_set(), so that's likely what the developer of that particular app has chosen to do. (display_errors is disabled by default.) Ning certainly can't prevent people from writing insecure code, but they do have several things in place to help developers mitigate as many risks as possible.

Tue, 11 Oct 2005 at 01:43:14 GMT Link

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