Social networking just keeps on growing. It seems every major public business wants a Facebook application, corporations are adding social features to their websites, and organisations are bringing social networking into their intranets. Previously, building your own social networking applications involved some serious engineering challenges. Thanks to Ringside Networks, that just got a lot easier, with an open source (LGPL) social networking server built entirely on LAMP.
So, what is Ringside, exactly? From a developer perspective, it’s a social networking application server built on PHP and MySQL, designed to be integrated into your existing applications. If you’ve already got a web application, just add Ringside to manage the social networking side of things. It’s thoroughly documented – just check out the seven page developer setup guide detailing everything you need to setup your LAMP stack and your Eclipse+PDT development environment. You can even install Ringside via PEAR: they’re serious about their PHP.
But what does Ringside mean for social networking? For a start, it could seriously break apart the market for social networking websites. Facebook application development? Forget it. Sure, there’s a big audience with Facebook, but OpenSocial will bring users away from specific providers, while Ringside will give them somewhere else to go. Thanks to Ringside, building a custom social networking application is now much easier, and while it still doesn’t have the simplicity of an online-DIY hosted solution like Ning, it will make it a lot easier to integrate social networking.
On a more general scale, this will also help immensely in bringing LAMP closer to the corporate world. Sure, many corporations are already on it, and if LAMP can handle Yahoo!, no challenge is too great. Still, formally-backed proprietary solutions such as Microsoft’s Windows Server and Small Business Server are highly effective for many areas of a business networ, and with those in place, IIS and ASP.net are the obvious next step. (And there’s always Community Server.) With Ringside, and the ease of building on open source platforms in general, there’s now a much stronger use case for corporations, and these high-end corporate LAMP jobs will no doubt raise the profile of our section of the industry in general.
So, as a LAMP developer, you now have this proposition before you: do you want to learn about the Facebook API, when you could start reading up on the Ringside manual?