Cloudshout Alpha 2 Released!

Written on November 21, 2008 in Technical, IZEA.
Adam Fortuna

Hey hey! I'm a developer who lives in Orlando, FL. Right now I work at Code School, listen to a lot of audiobooks, set way too many goals, write at minafi.com and tweet often.

Over at IZEA there are a lot of balls up in the air at any given time. Lately Dan and I have been concentrating on a relatively new creation- - CloudShout . It fits in nicely with the blog focused atmosphere for IZEA, and we’re both pretty excited about it. It already has a lot going for it, and I hear what’s available now with it is just the tip of the iceberg. Either way it’s something new and interesting, that I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the months to come. Cloudshout is, in the most basic terms, a widget that can be installed on any site that enables realtime communication across the interwebs. It provides a open way for new developers to create javascript applications that can be installed by any user or site using CloudShout. One of the best ways to see what’s possible is to check out some sample applications. Just click on application tab in the widget and it’ll show what’s installed on my blog. Here are some applications that are already available:

  • A group chat application (chat has to be realtime of course)

  • An app that pull recent tweets from the blog owner, and even tweets from other site visitors

  • An app that pulls recent flickr photos from the blog owner, and other photos from site visitors

  • Multiple games — like checkers

  • A “Growl” like application that shows activity for the site (if you’re using a mac and don’t use Growl it’s worth checking out)

It’s important to note that any of these applications are updated immediately as new visitors come to the site. So lets say while you’re reading this blog post someone new comes to my site. They’ll show up immediately on the right, and you’ll be able to view tweets, or play checkers with them. Having realtime communication and the ability to send Javascript to other users really opens up a whole new world of application possibilities, so we’re thinking of, and hearing suggestions about new applications every day. We Have the Technology

You can check for yourself how it’s all done, but it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise - ajax using script tag insertion. Since you can’t use XMLHttpRequest across domain (well until cross-site XmlHttpRequest becomes mainstream), it has to include script tags occasionally to get updates from the server. It does all of this by having the site owner include a single javascript file and creating a div with a specific ID. After that just hit the URL and you’ll see the widget. The main hub itself and any applications you write have full access to JQuery, which I’m definitely falling for.

We’re still looking into how to incorporate some kind of a library to take advantage of the huge amount of Jquery plugins and extensions that are available, but until then the basic jQuery should keep you busy. Developing applications is easy, especially if you use Textmate. There’s a bundle available that allows editing application code locally and saving it to CloudShout. When developing you’ll get a URL to include on some sample page (usually stored locally) that will load the base widget and only your application. You can make changes and view them in this sandbox, then publish your application once it’s perfect. At that point one someone from IZEA will review it (no nasty hacks or bad code, etc) and then it’ll be available for anyone to install to their blog. Oh there’s more? At first some of this was sounding a bit like Google Site Widgets (which I heard about once then never again)- - a way to enable some basic dynamic functionality. The difference is astounding though. CloudShout is realtime, open, extendable and just more badass in general. It’s also not specific to a single site. There’s quite a bit more to it, and for some you can watch Dans talk at BarcampTampa .

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