Oxwall Supports Cloud Storage

Oxwall Supports Cloud StorageI’ve got more great news to report and it’s not even holiday season yet!

Anyway, Oxwall is now supporting Cloud File Storage (also known as CDN). You know what that means – the ability to store unlimited volumes of static content, like user photos, icons, etc.

In general, Cloud Storage is cheaper than regular storage options available from regular hosting providers. It also greatly speeds up page load times, since a part of the static data is loaded from the Cloud. Moreover, the more storage volume you use – the more you save money-wise. Virtually all of the most popular web services are now using Cloud Storage. Of course we didn’t want to lag behind.

Detailed manuals for setting up Oxwall for working with a few popular Cloud Storage providers can be found here. Enjoy!

Oxwall Policy Changes and Oxwall Club

Oxwall Policy Changes and Oxwall ClubDear community members, we would like to draw your attention to several changes and additions to our policies. For your convenience all of them can now be found in the ‘Oxwall Policies and Licenses‘ section of the main Oxwall website.

Oxwall Domain Policy

This new policy is introduced due to trademark issues and to avoid possible confusion among regional and vertical Oxwall websites dedicated to the software itself (translation, distribution, etc.). In short, we ask webmasters not to use ‘Oxwall’ in top-level domain names. Click here for more details.

Oxwall Attribution Policy

The attribution topic frequently comes up in the comments, when webmasters of Oxwall-powered networks ask us whether they can remove the ‘Powered by Oxwall’ logo at the bottom of the page. The thing is – Oxwall is Open Source, and in return we only ask the community to keep the attribution. Click here for more details.

Other important documents in the ‘Oxwall Policies and Licenses‘ section include Oxwall License, Oxwall Store Terms of UseOxwall Store Commercial License, and Oxwall Software Terms of Use.

Oxwall Club

Now we are getting to the fun part. Oxwall Foundation is proud to launch an exclusive Oxwall Club. It will unite officially recognized international communities devoted to local promotion of our software, as well as helping Oxwall-powered networks in their native languages. So now you know that anyone with a CLUB badge in the forum is actually a representative of a regional or vertical community. Click here to learn about the benefits of Oxwall Club membership and other details.



Oxwall Available through Simple Scripts

Oxwall on Simple ScriptsWonderful news everyone! Oxwall Software is now available through Simple Scripts.

Simple Scripts is a hosted service, which allows instant one-click installation of over 70 top web applications. We are now in the great company of WordPress, Joomla, Roundcube, Drupal, and many others.

In a nutshell, Simple Scripts works though a choice number of popular control panels (including cPanel), and takes care of any issues with support, maintenance, updates, etc. The current version available is our latest release Oxwal 1.2.4.

In addition to Simple Scripts, Oxwall is also available through Softaculous, a similar web service that allows instant software installation. We believe this brings our free and open source platform even closer to the community.

More Languages in Oxwall Forum

As all of us witness the growing popularity of our favorite social networking software, the Foundation team can’t help but notice the emergence of Oxwall-centric communities in languages other than old boring English.

To make our international friends feel more at home, and give them a place to communicate naturally, we have set up several neighborhoods in our forums.

Please welcome the soon to be busy Spanish, German, Russian and Farsi HQs!

We hope this will expand the possibilities for community interactions and greatly improve the experience for non-English speakers.

A Quick Update and a Few Answers

Your blogger is back after a short summer illness (ahem) with a slew of answers to questions in the comments section.

First of all, the thing on everyone’s minds – the upcoming release. It is right around the corner at this point. The Photo Uploader is ready and so are the Privacy and Enhanced Newsfeed. The only thing that holds us back right now is the new System of Text Input. Actually, that one is practically ready to go too, and we are just testing how well it was integrated everywhere in the software. (Also, the latest hold up just happened to coincide with the wedding of one of our most talented developers. Oh, hey, congratulations to Sardar Madumarov and his lovely wife Meerim!)

Next up is the Privacy Setting for Groups. We recognize its importance and the examples in Mkeyes‘ comment are all good and valid. Unfortunately, the feature will NOT be included in the upcoming release. It is, however, on the planning board, as is reflected in our Roadmap under Group Enhancements. Initially we added the groups options in their current simplified shape with an intent of bringing them up to speed later on. It seems that the time has come just for that.

The issue with the Instant Chat Plug-in is also familiar to us. The present (simplest) solution was built on Ajax, leading up to this sort of problems, inherent for applications created with this web development method. Basically, once your network membership grows and more users begin using the plug-in at the same time, the resources drop. I can tell you that Skalfa LLC does plan to release an advanced plug-in to tackle this issue in the future. In the meantime the best way to avoid the current slowdown is to switch to a better hosting option.

Finally, the question of the Registration Approval System. Luckily, this one is easy, since we already have one in place. The feature is available under Settings. After turning it on, Admins will have to manually approve all new registered members on their websites.

Thank you once again for your patience and understanding.

More details about the upcoming Oxwall 1.2


Judging by your questions about Oxwall 1.2 and the anticipated release date we realized that we didn’t do a good job communicating the current work in process. Even more, we gave the promise to release it within a week since that post but we didn’t keep it.

I want to shed more light on what is currently being developed and why it’s taking more than we originally planned.

1.2 is going to be a major step forward because of several changes that affect practically any aspect of current functionality. Let me atomize those changes with some more details.

1) Text input

We always knew that the current method of text input for users was temporary. We don’t believe in settling for something less than excellent and user experience for writing blogs, forum posts, etc (including adding rich text formatting and HTML) was always substandard. Until 1.2. Now we will make it WYSIWYG and add easy tools for adding custom HTML, images and subsequently videos. We will iterate until text input, HTML embed, and rich text formatting become super-convenient, fast, and efficient. Users shouldn’t notice they enter text at all – they should just use software without realizing all the underworks.

Text input rebuild is what takes a lot of time and doesn’t always want to obey the release plan dates. Particularly we are fighting several last bugs and shortcomings. We didn’t want to use heavy and clumsy solutions like TinyMCE – instead we are using a lightweight library that uses built-in browser capabilities. Those have their own trade-offs but the final result should be worth it.

2) Advanced photo upload

Photo upload is another topic that was long overdue radical enhancement. We will let you choose as many photos from your computer as you want, resize them for you, let you enter tags and descriptions for particular photos – all fast and convenient. For that task we will be using Adobe Flash plugin. In fact, we are not big fans of Flash but Java is worse. So please bear with Flash for all the convenience it will bring for any Oxwall site that has photo upload. This is almost finished, again we try to make it as easy to use as possible. When you play with it let us know how we did this time.

Flash is goofy so it certainly contributes to the release falling behind schedule.

3) Privacy and enhanced newsfeed

This is a change that will have profound penetration into all functionality across Oxwall. We are going to release a new plugin that will introduce basic levels of access for user’s content. All other plugins will be updated to reflect that.

Some privacy aspects are mixed with the updated Newsfeed plugin. It will also contain new items grouping for better content flow. This sounds vague of course but you will be able to see what I’m talking about when the update is there.

The update newsfeed will also allow to choose which types of content get in the streams – something that a lot of users ask us in private and public. First we thought it was a good idea to make it with one-size-fits-all approach but with more and more sites using Oxwall it starts proving itself wrong. Oxwall powers a lot of diverse communities nowadays and we understood we shouldn’t decide for you. Hope you will find that flexibility useful.

Yeah, yeah but WHEN?

Ouch, I hoped to avoid this question. Because of the nature of this update (broad horizontal changes across all plugins) we will have to ask Skalfa staff for help. Did you know Skalfa runs a free hosted Oxwall solution – Wall.fm?

After internal testing we will update select number of Wall.fm users first – probably next week (sounds familiar, I know). We will gather feedback for up to one week, then help Skalfa update Wall.fm completely and gather feedback again.

These measures are going to bring you super-stable core and plugin updates – just like your site deserves. Preferably all you will have to do is push buttons in admin area as usual. The downside: you will have to wait a little bit more.

We realize we are behind schedule but that is fine. Instead we give you quality, piece of mind, and a lot of thought put in this work. Hope you enjoy it.

Oxwall Foundation

Give Me Some Privacy



Last December Time Magazine announced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the Person of the Year in its annual selection. This happened despite the overwhelming lead in the publication’s reader poll by the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Multi-billionaire Mark came only tenth, just behind The Unemployed American).  The official choice led to a semi-strong backlash against Time editors, who were accused of ignoring their own readers, as well as self-censorship. No one, however, expected Assange to get back at the social networking king several months later.

Earlier last week the eccentric Australian spoke to Russia Today and named Facebook the “most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented”. Assange went as far as suggesting that along with Google and Yahoo, Facebook has an actual built-in interface for US intelligence to get personal data on the users. Thus, in a strange and ironic twist Assange became an advocate for online privacy. We are talking about the very man, who openly gathers and disseminates others’ private information. Of course I realize that there is a difference between the privacy of a regular Joe and the secrecy of a government machine, but still… There is no denying that the surfacing of classified data may potentially place at risk thousands of innocent people.

Nevertheless, considering the amount of irrelevant or simply boring information found in thousands of diplomatic cables released, the famous whistleblower might actually be on to something. After all, now we know that American diplomats across the globe are not much different from the people on our friend-lists. Apparently, instead of sending holographic bomb schematics to their eye-patched bosses, they share observations on ego-driven habits of politicians surrounding them. Oh, the excitement!

On a more serious note, WikiLeaks information was instrumental in the Arab Spring developments. At the same time some of the uprisings in the Middle East were dubbed in the media as Facebook Revolutions. This ought to show that Mark Zuckerberg’s creation played as historic a role in shaping up the new face of the region as did Assange’s. Yet, the controversial activist chooses to dismiss (or at least not acknowledge) this fact altogether.

Getting back to the privacy issue. All the rights-and-freedoms talks aside, we should really stop pretending that intelligence agencies cannot get all the private data they want without using Facebook. In fact, it is more comforting to believe they did have some means of collecting information prior to 2004. Sure, it must be easier now, with everyone hanging out at the same place online, but what do the Bonds and Bournes really learn in addition to the data already harvested from our tax forms?

Typical reaction from Gawker.com crowd.

Typical reaction from Gawker.com crowd

That’s right; as much as the prospect of the authorities finding out about my FarmVille habits petrifies me, I am pretty much ready to let it slide.  Also, I want to tell all the community site users out there that unless we really want to bore government spies to death with information about our music choices and cooking tastes, we are pretty much safe.  There are plenty of platforms around, created specifically for the discussion of conspiracies and/or human rights issues. Scanning them would be of much more use for the Big Brother, than going through millions of social networking profiles looking for… something/anything. More importantly, we are all adults with clear comprehension of what should and shouldn’t end up on the web (hopefully).

All the joking aside; once you realize that what you do is important enough to the point of raising serious concerns about privacy and security, perhaps that’s when you should consider private social networks. Until then, please refrain from updating your statuses with detailed plans of the CIA Headquarter infiltration.

Until the End of Space

By Zima, May 4, 2011

Myspace for Sale! That’s right; one of the giants of the social networking industry is up for grabs once again, with the asking price of just 100 million dollars. This, however, is hardly surprising for anyone who witnessed the rise and fall of the once mighty entity.

As they say, space is the final frontier. Quite sadly, this just wasn’t to be for one of the pioneers of social networking. Over time Myspace just became too cumbersome and ultimately limiting for people looking to enhance their real-life interactions with an online experience. And once you are limited in space, you begin seeking a way out.

Myspace (MySpace back then) was born in 2003 – the year Tripod.com celebrated its 8th birthday, Friendster was quickly gaining momentum, and Mark Zuckerberg was still hacking into Harvard network to create Facemash. At the same time GeoCities was already swimming in shut-down rumors, proving that a service with millions upon millions of users could fail in spite of everything. A lesson could have been learned right there…

By 2006 Myspace became the number one social networking site in the US, a position it managed to hold on to right until Facebook stomped the competition in 2008. “The Place for Friends” was exactly that – a collection of individual spaces, all decorated (more or less) uniquely, depending on the users’ understanding of style and overkill. This, however, was also a major contributing factor for the public perception of the website’s “quirk”.

Most adults looked down on the service. No wonder, really, when you consider that every second page was dedicated to the most recent pop sensation, bombarded visitors with intentional misspelling, and featured over-the-top rants by angsty teenagers. When Facebook arrived on the scene, preloaded with the college-age core group of users, it became a default choice for the mainstream mature audience. By the time Myspace warmed up to the idea of a necessitating change, it was a little too late. The shape of the social networking landscape was already changed forever.

Just look at Facebook. It needed approximately two seconds to realize the potential of that hot new thing called Twitter. Next thing you know, there is a twitter-like feed on the site. Once out of the gate, Zuckerberg and Co. never looked back, really, constantly adding subtle improvements on the go. That was something Myspace seemed to understand, but failed to implement. More effort was put on entertainment features, annoying animated backgrounds, and memory-draining videos, than on social networking bells and whistles.

On top of the pressing competition, Myspace was a troubled endeavor from the get go. All the liability suits, lax security issues, mismanagement of advertising space, compatibility problems, later-day layoffs, etc., did not help the matters. By 2008 what was once considered the flagship of social networking has fallen by sidelines. The biggest problem became the brand itself. It was just too recognizable as a tainted product at this point, despite the millions of accounts in use. In later years all the news of improvement in security and design were overshadowed by the information of rapidly declining traffic and revenues.

After losing the fight for the much-coveted title of the Social Networking Heavyweight Champ, Myspace quickly spun the developments, and claimed it actually no longer considered itself a Facebook competitor. Supposedly, the portal sought to become a gateway into the entertainment world. Perhaps, this was a wise move, considering the site’s history with the showbiz (many performers used the platform for promotion purposes). Unfortunately, even this did not produce the much needed relief, when VEVO, a music website run by the likes of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, opted out of the takeover (at least for the time being).

Just to give you a reference of the situation by this point – when News Corp. bought Myspace in 2005, the website was the entire Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy in terms of the pick-up price and generated hype. Six years later it is shipped around as The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Ouch.

So, yes, it has been a bumpy ride, but the final destination was always there if you think about it. Working in the industry it is important not forget that the money comes from customers who expect a company to deliver the best user-experience there is. Raining stars on the background is just a wrapper; what matters is the satisfactory interaction. Once the audience realizes that, there is not much to do but to observe it flee to a better vessel.

How to remove ‘powered by Oxwall’

This is the question we are being asked too often. If you are looking for a quick answer, here it is: Please don’t remove Oxwall reference from your site. We wouldn’t like you to do it even if you offer money.

Now, some background. From the very start we thought it was important to be really ‘open source’. What does it mean and how is it different?

The problem is the term is severely abused. You can see a lot of companies (including social software) putting ‘open source’ tag on their work but actually using it as a marketing ploy. Some of them go as low as encrypting/obfuscating source code to prevent easy removal of references and selling “licenses” to remove those extended backlinks, clearly created to annoy site owners.

And the “business model” seems to work. A lot of people think they need to make an impression that they build their websites themselves. C’mon guys, if governments use open source software for their websites, do you think it’s a shame to acknowledge you do the same practical and honorable thing? I can smell the anti-competition rationale here but people should understand that software has nothing to do with the ability to run communities. There must be a reason why Facebook still haven’t been eaten by “competition”?

People falling for this meme enable pseudo-opensource companies do what they do. However we believe this is not what open source stands for and not how it should make money to support development.

It is not accidental that we use CPAL license. It’s less restrictive than GPL, for example, because it doesn’t make you release any derivative works under the same license. With CPAL you can keep your version closed, include it in larger works, sell your own distributions, fork and relicense, whatever.

We don’t want to restrict your benefits from our work, nor do we want to impose hidden costs on you via marketing tricks. It’s just that we give you results of our hard work for multiple years in exchange for you helping us spread the word.

Oxwall reference is small, unobtrusive and designed to not make you want to remove it. It is one of a few ways to promote free software. If you got a lot from Oxwall and feel like giving back, please help us with that.

Although we reserve the right to let somebody rightfully remove the required reference, the reasoning shouldn’t sound like “hi, I want to remove your link because… I don’t like it there”.

Thanks for creating with us!

Oxwall team