Sunday, August 05, 2007

An excellent review of white-label platforms for social networking

We have seen the evolution of development platforms from batch processing systems through timesharing, personal computers, local area networks and now the Internet.

Of course, there are varying levels of abstraction within a platform. One could program a batch processing application in assembly language or one could use a high level report generator like FARGO which gave you less control, but made application development much easier.

Today, the Internet is emerging as a first class development platform, and there are high and low-level tools. White-label social networking systems represent a high level of abstraction -- they are the FARGO's of today's Internet. "White-label" is a term taken from retailing, where, for example, a PC manufacuter places the retailer's brand name on their generic PCs. There are several vendors of general purpose social networking programs that allow the user customization.

An excellent review and discussion of these programs is available at TechCrunch.com. Be sure to check out the feature chart accompanying the review. The list of features is a good planning checklist for any Web site.

I kicked the tires on one of Ning, one of the white-label programs, by creating a demonstration site with a blog, forums and audio, video and image libraries. Building the site took under 30 minutes. That illustrates what I mean by a high level of abstraction. (Read more and see the demo site here).

Have you seen other high level tools that enable you to create complex applications without programming?