Wednesday, November 1, 2000

A closer look at Manila and Radio UserLand

For Web sites where this is inexpedient (say, a small intranet project team), membership can be restricted to "editors" (team members), hiding the site from outside views. Alternatively, for classic publishing, Manila offers more-than-reasonable workflow support for check-in/check-out and delayed publishing after edit approvals are complete. Change notification by automated email can be granular to the story or picture level on either original posts or subsequent edit changes.

Manila's most striking design decision is the first-class quality of "discussion." Everything posted to a Manila site is a "discussion item." Everything. This is as true for an image as for an article as for a conventional discussion forum thread. This doesn't mean that discussion forums are the only organizing metaphor: articles can be composed and organized as "stories." Pictures are also accorded a separate container. However, discussion items are the core data type. Important note: remember we're discussing Manila the application, not Frontier the platform. The latter offers a rich array of the expected data types.

Since Manila is included as an application within Frontier, you can host your own Manila sites, providing internal customers with the ability to create their own Web sites without fuss and at minimal support cost to your organization. A Manila Web site can be created from existing templates or you can build a series of templates to support various types of corporate tasks, from ad hoc project management and publishing to internal bulletin boards and forums. As a long-time Domino user, I assure you that this is far easier to do in Frontier and Manila than Notes. defines weblogs as "often-updated sites that point to articles elsewhere on the web, often with comments, and to on-site articles."

In any case, weblogs, like databases, spreadsheets, and documents before them, are a true application type emerging from the native character of the World Wide Web. Weblogs are orthogonal to Domino and Notes' core mission, not competitive. Just as Domino serves as a container for and interface to documents, it can serve as a container for everything generated by Manila.

Radio UserLand

UserLand's Dave Winer has a long history of articulating a vision for what he terms the Two-Way-Web (see The currently fashionable term for this is "peer-to-peer" computing, made famous (or notorious) by Napster.

"Oversimplifying drastically, Radio UserLand is an abstracted version of Napster with a very powerful application and database model."

While he has his own unique view of the intellectual property debate that Napster triggered, Winer (like IBM, Microsoft, Intel, and Notes' creator, Ray Ozzie) is passionate about the upcoming revolution in computing that will distribute the Internet from the center to the "edge," with end user desktops functioning alternately and routinely as both clients and servers. For another view of Napster, see David Gewirtz' "The battle over Napster" at