There’s a new kid in town in the microblogging space, and no it’s not just “another microblogging site”. I talked to Brian Hendrickson, the lead developer behind OpenMicroblogger.org and its accompanying service OpenMicroblogger.com today and he may just have something to scare both Twitter, and Evan Prodromou of Identi.ca in their tracks. What’s amazing about it all is Brian has actually taken the OpenMicroBlogging protocol that Evan established and implemented the protocol in Brian’s own, non-laconica-based implementation of the protocol that would communicate with any other OpenMicroblogging protocol supported site, similar to the way I mentioned on LouisGray earlier. Yes, OpenMicroblogger.com and the accompanying open source software it is based on will talk to Identi.ca, and on a completely different code base. That means you can follow anyone on Identi.ca within the OpenMicroblogger.com service and vice-versa, and they were written from the ground up by two entirely different developers!
What’s even more amazing about this new platform is that while not a WordPress implementation, Brian seems to have made the platform almost entirely compatible with the WordPress plugin and theme API. So, basically, if you are a WordPress developer, you can write your own extensions to the code, implement your own versions of the code, and write your own themes, all in the same way you do on WordPress. Brian wrote the code from the ground up using a framework he built and calls “dbscript”, and it contains no WordPress code whatsoever. He felt WordPress was too bulky to handle a full Microblogging platform (do I smell a potential acquisition by Automattic?). In fact, adding in integration with the OpenMicroBlogging Protocol was as simple as just adding a simple PHP plugin to his dbscript implementaion. The look and feel of OpenMicroblogger.com, his own implementation of the codebase, is all just an implementation of the WordPress Prologue theme that my friend Joseph Scott at Automattic wrote.
Brian tells me that while Laconi.ca‘s codebase is very good technology (he had very good things to say about Identi.ca, Evan, and the Laconi.ca codebase, especially when compared to Twitter), the technology underneath OpenMicroblogger and DBScript is even stronger and more scalable. According to him, “dbscript is an advanced ‘Restful’ framework with sophisticated features that are not found in the WordPress code base, it shares features with Ruby on Rails (ruby) and Django (python) — things like MVC, ActiveRecord, Routes, Content-Negotiation”. Because the underlying code is Restful, an API is almost inheritently provided for other developers to interact with your implementation of the code-base and write their own applications for it.
OpenMicroblogger and DBScript are based on an open source MIT license similar to the license Ruby is under. Brian says it took him just 8 weeks to write this advanced implementation, with other client projects going on at the same time and 2 kids, which shows how simple it is to implement the Openmicroblogging Protocol. It also shows his devotion to the work.
OpenMicroblogger.com, the service that shows off his code, has some really nice features (also available in the code) such as sharing links and pictures with friends – definitely a little more advanced than Identi.ca in that manner. He fully supports the OpenID standard (he actually wrote his own OpenID host using his framework!), and is very big on OAuth and other standards and open protocols so you can expect to see much more around that with the site.
This one simple and amazing example goes to show that we have only hit the tip of the iceberg here on microblogging technology. Now that a Protocol has been established, you will see more and more sites and developers write their own extensions of the protocol to implement their own creative microblogging solutions and layers. This very creative and innovative solution could just be a more advanced option than Laconi.ca to consider for Microbranded solutions in the future. Brian has taken “viral coding” to heart.
You can download the code, try out, learn more and help out the OpenMicroblogger.org project over at http://openmicroblogger.org. I’ve created an account at http://openmicroblogger.com/?jessestay, and you can actually just go there, follow me, and follow my OpenMicroBlogger.com updates right on Identi.ca! Or, you can go over and create an account for yourself.
UPDATE: Brian corrected me about it being more scalable than Laconi.ca (see the comments below) – according to him, “Actually Laconi.ca is the more robust code and is more scalable. dbscript is a meta-object framework and runs some extra queries to “learn” about the db schema — it is currently not very optimized for performance, but is geared towards being programmer-friendly.”