Using CloudShout to build a SocialBrowse-like Service – Introduction (Part 1)

SocialBrowse is an interesting new service covered here and here among other places.

What SocialBrowse does, from what I understand, is allow you to share links (with comments), in real time, with your friends, via a browser plugin. So as a friend of yours shares a link you see it immediately in your browser.

This is a cool idea, but what I’m really interested in is the infrastructure behind what they are doing. I’m pretty sure that the basics of it boil down to something like:

  • Sign into your browser extension
  • it grabs your friends
  • it grabs any links you or your friends have posted
  • formats those links in the SocialBrowse interface

Then, while you are online with other friends:

  • If I share a link, it calls home to save that link
  • It looks up my friends and associates them to that link
  • The extension (on my friends side) pulls new link information every so often
  • it displays the new link information to them.

The service has apparently been in private beta for about 3 months, but now is in public beta. I can’t imagine it’s due to the ability to share links. I’m guessing they are slowly letting people in to monitor/adjust server requirements needed to scale a service that needs to constantly look for updates.

The reason I’m interested in this is because of all the time and money dedicated to making sure you have the hardware to handle that. What if you didn’t have to worry about that? What if a product like SocialBrowse could be build in about a day?

This is what CloudShout allows. CloudShout is a Javascript framework, but not in the sense that you might be used to. It’s not Prototype, jQuery, MooTools, etc. It’s a widget (application) building framework that allows easy communications between two or more people or applications (or both).

To build a similar SocialBrowse app in CloudShout, the only thing you would need is someplace to save the link data. Not a problem, Google App Engine could do that.

Over the next few days, I’ll recreate the basic functionality of this service, documenting it along the way here at this blog. My hopes are that this will illustrate that a useful, creative application like SocialBrowse can be built using CloudShout with very little effort and money.

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