Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Knowledge’

Vanilla Forums: Conversations Refreshed

Web forums haven’t exactly experienced the same renaissance as other web tools. They’re built on the old technologies, running the same themes, and offering the same functionality we’ve seen since the early 2000s. They feel dated, mostly because there never was a point in time when they felt modern.

Vanilla Forums is a forum provider that modernizes the offerings. It has the potential to compete with industry heavyweights like vBulletin and truly challenge their claim as “the most powerful forum software available.” With Vanilla Forums, columns and posts are clean. Replies can be voted for with a simple Digg-like button, causing better responses to float to the top (purists will appreciate the toggle to sort replies by date added). There’s also a pretty hefty template system, bringing as much control to the appearance as possible on a WordPress theme.

Once you create an account with them, you can share you blog a few different ways. The easiest is just to grab the embed code and drop it in your site. Optionally, developers will want to dive into the API and add forum calls into existing tools and mobile apps, such as pulling in posts, searches and user profiles. If you want the downloadable version, it’s free on

Vanilla Forums’ service is offered at tiered levels. The simplest option gives everything needed for a forum, but it also includes their ads, and you aren’t given upload disk space. It’s not a bad value considering the product.

Phile: Online Community on Your Terms

Popular blogging software and apps make it a snap for anyone to post their thoughts online. What we’re now seeing become more popular are sophisticated web tools allowing anyone to quickly launch their own social network. Phile, which launched yesterday, is a social network and resource grown from your needs.

For years, Ning has owned this space as people create their own special interest groups. Phile offers a slightly different benefit. While people can communicate on both services, Phile seems to excel in creating a place where content can be added and stored, like restaurant reviews. Ultimately, the goal is to offer a useful resource for visitors.

When you start a new group, you name it and a create a “stack”, which is like a category or page to house your content. From there, it’s pretty simple to expand. When you pull up your stack, you can add fields and forms of every type. Checkboxes, pull-downs or even more crucial options like business hours, comment areas and rating bars are available. You specify what you want included, and your users can fill out forms to add new content.

With a site like Phile, anyone can create interest-focused Yelp or Wiki-like sites within a few minutes. If content can be stored in a directory, it can easily live on Phile. Take a look at the walkthrough below:

Boarrd: Everyone’s Personal Dashboard

Who doesn’t want their own personal executive dashboard? It could contain anything; your inbox, to-do list, favorite RSS feeds, Twitter status updates, data feeds piping in to charts, upcoming meeting info, basic weather, anything.

Boarrd is a free web app that allows us to demand our own dashboard. Using a very slick interface, users grab different widgets and shuffle them around the screen. At the moment, the service is limited to RSS feeds, weather, calendar events, clock, weather, and Flickr photos. Considering the potential, we wouldn’t call those options limiting at all. Each dashboard will be completely different by user. And users can alter components as their needs change.

What’s most impressive about Boarrd is that it was thrown together in 48-hours as part of Rails Rumble MMX. It’s very well polished and just about ready for primetime.

To be a serious contender in this space, we’d like to see the dashboard’s layout change when viewed in a mobile browser. We also can’t help wonder what would happen if developers were able to deploy their own widgets to the community. Either way, we love this app.

Seeking Funding: Open Science Tracker, Appleseed

Mini Sprout focuses on helping young websites grow. Even if companies don’t have a website, we’re looking to help new organizations launch. Seeking Funding is a category dedicated to promoting new business concepts. Websites featured in this section are in the process of seeking seed funding and backers.

Open Science Tracker, Seeking $1,000

People already use BitTorrent to transfer popular media and large data files. With a bit of focus, we can use that same power to share scientific data and knowledge. Open Science Tracker is a Kickstarter project looking to get scientific data into the hands of anyone with an internet connection. By expanding the access to real data, we would be able to inspire new generations of scientists or allow hobbyists to try to tackle some of the world’s most difficult problems. Visit Open Science Tracker.

Appleseed, Seeking $10,000

Appleseed is a free open source social networking platform anyone may download and use. The service works on a standard LAMP server (in other words, it will work with every popular web hosting provider). Already, the script is being used across 100 websites. The organization is seeking funding through IndieGoGo in order to focus full-time on preparing for a full-time release that will offer features similar to Facebook. Visit Appleseed.