Our distributed computing story

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From: Dave Winer (dave@userland.com)
Date: Fri Aug 18 2000 - 09:53:30 PDT

Today I posted a walk-through of our distributed computing story on
Scripting News.


For the benefit of web-deprived people, I've included the full text and
pointers. The usual caveats apply, until 10PM this is not frozen, and may be
amplified and modified as the day goes by.

I'm happy to discuss this on either of the two lists I'm cross-posting to. I
care a lot about what you think. Thanks!

***A picture

Here's a <a
shot</a> of our newest Radio UserLand framework called nodeTypes. There's a
narrative in the rightmost window that explains what's going on. Be sure to
expand the window fully, don't miss the narrative, it's key to

This is the intersection of HTTP, XML and outlines. This is the unification
I've been searching for for 20+ years. Everything on the Internet fits into
a hierarchic view. The Web, email, chat, buddy lists, music playlists,
script libraries, syndicated Web pubs, discussion groups.

We have a formalization that allows new types to be defined at runtime.
First we're covering all the big standards. Then we'll have a great
playground to invent new modes and services.

It seems now that all the hard problems are solved. It's time to sharpen the
edges, do a few deep knee-bends, stretch, and then go down the
double-diamond slope, with confidence!

***Background pointers

I wrote a <a
</a> on nodeTypes for advanced Frontier programmers. Please read it
carefully, and please no newbie questions! ";->"

Another point not to miss, it's a <a
tool</a> too. And through <a
/a>, writing for this medium is as easy as using the File menu and the
Finder or Explorer. (If you recall, at <a
href="http://davenet.userland.com/1999/05/24/editThisPage">one point</a> I
thought we'd have to change the File menu, but then figured out how to get
two-wayness with a standard File menu. That's what upstreaming is about.)

All the XML files it creates are in <a
> format. We're discussing a couple of changes in this format with people
who are using Radio UserLand. Whatever changes are made, all our software
will continue to read the current format, for perpetuity.

I still have to figure out how to link this up with Manila and Zope and
other server-side content management software. I want it to build off users'
understanding of the File menu and how the file system works. It almost
certainly will involve special sub-folders of the www folder, that route
writing to specific Manila or Zope sites through an XML-RPC interface. I
also want to teach Radio UserLand how to get to websites, through an outline
interface, through its <a
> menu. I write for about a dozen sites. I want to be able to go to "the
site" by choosing a bookmark. I'm getting pretty close to figuring this out.

***New terminology

BTW, in writing about the Radio UserLand scenario, I get into trouble when I
talk about servers. Since the user's machine is a server, I can't talk about
"the server". What's the difference between the server on my machine,
running at Exodus; and the server on their machine, running at the end of a
DSL line or cable modem, or T1 line or whatever?

So I've taken a clue from AT&T, General Magic and LoudCloud, and I'm calling
the common space "the cloud". It's the common space where all our stuff

We plan to allow an option where the user chooses not to upstream at all,
this might make sense for people with persistent IP addresses and big pipes,
who want the full-metal experience of having a workstation that's also
serving the public.

But upstreaming is there because at this point, most users would be wise not
to open their machines up so fully.

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