September 02, 2004

BlogBuilder interoperability and extensibility

We have spent quite a while building blogbuilder from scratch to create what we hope is a good, feature packed blog system.

It was important to create it from scratch to overcome some of the problems of other blog packages out there. Such as:

  1. Scalability – most systems were designed to run a single blog, not a whole system of blogs
  2. Integration – we knew that we would want to closely integrate our blogs with our single sign on system
  3. Platform – most blog systems out there are php or perl based. There are a few Java based ones, but they are pretty basic
  4. Extensibility – from the word go we had a whole bunch of features which were quite rare or even unique in the blog world. So, we knew that we couldn't just buy something and install it…there was always going to be development work to do, so we may as well do it properly, rather than relying on someone elses code.
  5. Community – because most systems out there are designed for a single blog instance living in isolation, there is not really the concept of built in community and aggregation. Yes you can submit your blog to search engines and blog aggregators, but those are not controlled by us. We wanted to feel that you and your blog were not isolated. Community and peer support is an important factor in encouraging people to take up blogging and keep at it. To this end, we will shortly be making live our new blog directory which will aggregate together entries/blogs in groups based on departments/modules/etc…

Another objective is to encourage interactions between blogbuilder and other systems we have at Warwick. I've just created a web service which publishes basic information about blogs in an easy to understand XML format. Another system can easily request a list of blogs that someone owns and use that information in whatever way they deem fit.

For instance, the Skills people are going to be creating learning objects that when students have finished automatically helps the user create an entry in their blog with results from the learning object inserted for them.

Other interoperability we hope to do is with the library. It would be really nice if instead of just querying Amazon as we do at the moment, the book review system could link with the library.

I hope that by trying to make the system as usable and open as possible (within reason), people will come up with new ways of using blogbuilder that we have not even thought of yet.

- 4 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Steve Rumsby

    Thanks for that Kieran. It is interesting to see the reasons behind the decision to build our own system rather than take one off the shelf.

    03 Sep 2004, 09:56

  2. The idea of linking with the library sounds great – then you could just follow the library links and request the book if you liked the sound of it (rather than thinking "must read that" and then forgetting the title, which is what I tend to do..)

    03 Sep 2004, 10:15

  3. Ideally it would be nice if we could have a link to the book and details of whether it was in or not and if it was on a course reading list, etc…

    I think we will get there eventually but the library just don't have that information in a nice web service yet :)

    03 Sep 2004, 10:20

  4. Steven Carpenter

    Check out – they are linking book searches to Amazon AND our library. Pretty cool.

    03 Sep 2004, 10:46

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