I have been working on some tweaks to the Mule Stable discussion forum for a few weeks and yesterday the new site went live. As well as upgrading to the lastest version of the StatusNet software, I moved the Stable to its very own domain name: mulestable.net. The old name stable.stubbornmule.net was a bit too long, particularly for anyone on other OStatus-enabled sites, but more on that later. Any links to the old site will automatically re-direct to the new site and, of course, all of the old posts have moved across too.
The move all appears to have gone smoothly, but anyone with links to Twitter or Facebook accounts will most likely have to reconnect them (just follow the Connect link). Some of the enhancements with the upgrade are:
- A secure-version of the site (using TLS connections) so if you are surfing the Stable at a public wifi-hotspot and someone tries to intercept your traffic, they will find it is encrypted.
- Automatic switch to secure connections for login pages, even if you don’t start on the secure site. This is likely to be all anyone needs. Since posts on the Stable are public, it’s really only your username and password that you want to protect.
- Auto-completion of usernames*. When directing messages to other users, after you type @ and begin typing a user’s name, a dropdown list will appear with suggested usernames so you don’t have to type the full name.
- Faster performance. For the technically minded, the site is now caching data in a memcached server to speed up generation of pages.
- Some improvements to the Facebook interface.
- Enhancements to the OStatus interface.
This last point probably needs some explaining. In an earlier post, I touched on the subject of OStatus, which is essentially a set of protocols allowing communciation between different sites in an attempt to subvert the “walled garden” approach of the likes of Facbook and Twitter. In practice, what this means for the Mule Stable is that it is easy to send messages to people on other OStatus-enabled sites and vice-versa.
For example, let’s say you felt like sending a message to Evan Prodromou (the man behind StatusNet) from the Stable and you happened to know that his username on identi.ca is evan. Then, simply posting a message in the Stable to @firstname.lastname@example.org would deliver a message to him on identi.ca. It’s a bit of an ugly syntax, but it is easy to remember and it works.
If you have an account on the Stable, you can also subscribe to users of other OStatus-enabled services (including identi.ca, brainbird.net and army.twit.tv). To do that, click on the “Remote” link next to your subscriptions link and enter a name like email@example.com (no @ at the front this time) and you will see all of evan’s posts in your personal timeline on the Stable. Not only that, you can now post to Evan with a simple @evan. Easy!
So, if you have not yet had a look at the Mule Stable, this is a good time to pop in and sign up!