It Will Blend

Friday January 18, 2008
So, as you may already have heard, we did a thing.  While I've been able to tell a few people, I've been waiting to talk about it publicly for a while.

We've gradually begun to launch Blendix.  Blendix aims to be the one site that you need to visit every day to tell you what's happening in your world.  Right now, it's an aggregator for various kinds of data around the web.  You can pull in the usual suspects (RSS, ATOM), but it's a bit more than just an RSS aggregator: today, it understands a few more specific things ( tracks, amazon wishlists, yahoo weather, flickr photos), and lots more are planned.  Although I'm practically bursting with awesome ideas for its future development, I will try to refrain from commenting too much on those plans.  As I've said before, software is like frisbee — predictions more specific than "hey, watch this!" can be dangerous :-).  However, since I know it's the first thing you'll all suggest, I can say that yes, there will be richer integration with social networks.

In brief, it works like this.  You log in, and you create some people.  Some feeds may be automatically discovered based on their email addresses, and you can add your own.  Maybe you subscribe to some people: if you're looking for one to subscribe to, may I suggest "Glyph Lefkowitz".  I hear he's pretty interesting.  Finally, you visit your "dashboard" page, which — thanks to the magic of Athena — will update whenever blendix detects that one of the people you maintain or are subscribed to publishes some new data.  You can expect to see more of that magic as it develops.

A word of warning, though: it doesn't work with Safari (or IE, but I don't imagine that a lot of you are using IE).  We're working on it, but for the time being, Firefox is strongly recommended.  (Firefox for the mac works fine.)  Most of the work involved in supporting Safari is in Nevow, which is all open source, so if you are familiar with these sorts of problems, please submit patches!

This is our first live, fully public deployment of a Mantissa server, and I'm really glad to have it out there.  We are, of course, working through the usual kinks of getting our first batch of users ("beta" isn't a web 2.0 buzzword for nothing), but I'm fairly pleased with it so far.

Blendix itself isn't open source — yet.  We've mainly been keeping the product as a whole behind closed doors as a matter of expediency.  We didn't want to support an API that was heavily in development.  However, one of my goals as we get closer to a bigger launch is to get enough of the code out there for you folks in the community to write extensions and improvements for it.  There's already enough for some things (like supporting Safari!), even at the application level.  For example, a big chunk of Blendix is the "Person" object, which is available in the public Mantissa code, along with UI for editing, browsing, and viewing.

I'm really glad to have something "out there" to share with you all, and I'd like to encourage you to share back.  Please check out Blendix, and make liberal use of the information you find under the "Contact" link at the bottom of every page.  Let me know what you think, especially if you're a programmer and you've got some ideas for hacking on the code. This will be especially useful as get into the initial phase of pushing the core out to the community.  Also, we really want to make sure the experience is as bug-free as possible, so let us know about any problems you have.