In the last three months I worked on few significant features that will enable Content Glass to move forward.
Here is a summary of few of the added features. Below you will also find a summary of 2015.
Better P2P, improved Chat-Box widget and Video Chat
The Chat-Box widget is not new, however for a long time it required shaping and improvements. This includes not only the actual GUI but the entire Peer to Peer mechanism that support live chat between sharing peers. The entire peer-to peer mechanism was revised. And while it seems that working on this module is newer-ending story, the p2p layer of Content Glass web client is now better designed than before.
As part of these improvements a support was added for making Video chat calls. The Chat widget was improved and the Video chat support was added to allow video between sharing peers. In addition an option for broadcasting was added. Broadcasting let single peer to broadcast video stream without being connected with streams from other sharing peers. For example the Share Poem Application has this functionality, let the author on noniades.myshopify.com to broadcast while working on poems.
As I said, working on P2P always seems as the never-ending story. Problems arise from many directions, so there is still lots of work on this module.
Content Glass Relations Service
For a long time Content Glass was running with the assumption of letting user connect with friends based on their existing social-networks circles. For example sharing widgets with Google mail contacts. This approach however has a major limitation of not allowing flexibility of creating new relations, therefore not allowing users to easily share widgets with users that they are not already connected with.
The new Relations module provide a workaround to this limitation and set the foundation for features that requires dynamic creation of relations between peers for the purpose of constructing on-demand peers-group for shared widgets.
The new Relations service uses the Drupal CMS of www.contentglass.com as the core for creating and managing relations between users. Users that has a relation between them can share widgets with each other. Relations service let a relation being created on demand. So that user can for example, set a target email of person to share with, and if there is no relation between widget owner and target peer, a new relation will be created upon acceptance of shared widget invitation. Users are not require to sign-up into contentglass.com for a relation to be created. The sign up is handled automatically as part of the process for creating new relations. Still, the account created on contentglass.com can be used later to manage relations.
The new Relations service does not only boost flexibility on the client side by opening the door for sharing with any friend regardless of prior social-network connections. It also serve a major part in the new Server Widgets API by allowing share server widgets to set peers-group that will be created on demand, upon acceptance by recipient of invitation.
Server Widgets API
For a long time Content Glass worked with the assumption that in order for widget to be created a client running in some context (e.g. Web page) is used to create a widget associate with a state of that context (e.g page URL) and the created widget is stored on Content Glass by calling the server API.
However, there are cases in which we may want to create widget and associate the widget with some context programmatically, without running a client side app. Think for example about using Content Glass as the means for distributing e-Cards on multiple websites or apps. When the e-Card is distributed on the hosting web-service, we need some way to create a Content Glass widget on some destination website defined by the user. In fact, we do not need to create the widget on the this website, but we need to create a widget associate with this Website. The widget can be created internally by Content Glass, with the appropriate parameters that makes it associated with some Web page URL, and with assigned peers-group that allow sharing between the e-Cards service provider and some other user defined by Email.
This is exactly what Server Side widgets API do. It is REST like API that can be used by service providers to create and manage widgets using few simple HTTP requests. Using this API a widget can be created in Content Glass without running a client application. In fact the widget is created on the server and stored on Content Glass database, in a similar way to widget created by client CG app (such as CG-Button).
And this new feature is working with the new Relations service described above, so that there is no need to make an assumption about a-priory social-network relation between the peers sharing the widget. Relations will be created on-demand!
Server Widget API open the door for many new Content Glass based solutions. See below for example the solution for increasing engagement with e-commerce customers by providing with them extra info widgets on top of search engines. Read more
New Frameworks In Design
Content Glass frameworks are Content Glass applications for handling specific situation and use-case. Users that follow this website may already be familiar with the concept of Experts-Glass, Markers-Glass, Desktop-Glass and Glass-4-Search frameworks. In the last few months two new frameworks has been added, currently in the initial design phase:
While the idea of Stamping Glass was already being discussed in this website, and the idea of using Content Glass for tracking packages is presented in the patent document of Content Glass, a new insight came to me few weeks ago while visiting the post-office. Suddenly I realized that there are many distributed systems, e.g. a supply chain of post packages, in which coordination between the all parts is hard to achieve and requires great measure of development. Following this revive highlight I can to an idea of Tracking Glass framework. A simple Content Glass framework for tracking things based on code.
The idea of Tracking Framework is using Content Glass as a top level coordination layer that can be used by multiple nodes in a distributed process without need to take care for programming the coordination between multiple systems. This is in fact a classic case of State Oriented Sharing. The 'thing' to track is represented by some code. The coordination is provided by sharing information in the form of Widgets with association to that code. That it! The classic Object Glass use-case for supporting coordination across multiple systems. Hopefully a prototype of the free service will be available in the next few weeks on this website.
The idea behind this framework is not new to Content Glass. In fact it has a strong relation with ideas presented by Desktop-Glass for shaping personal mini-portals on the pc. However it takes the concept of using Content Glass as the means for dynamic construction and customization of views, based on user properties and/or environmental states to other direction. Theming class is some way is an extended variation of ideas presented by Personalization widget - The ability to share settings combined with the ability to present different layers fo the same view based on current "state" (the sharing context). Beside sharing of settings Theming class wil use a new type of widgets, In-Code widgets. These are widgets implied from HTML dom, based on special attributes that let a DOM element considered as a Widget. Theming Glass framework still need a lot of collaboration but it emphasize use-cases of using Content Glass for sharing settings between users and not only viewable data.
Summary Of 2015
This blog will not be finished without saying few words about 2015. The year was started with lots of hope and expectations of going on the high-way. These expectations were based on various interactions that makes me thinking that 2015 is going to be the year of initial breakthrough to market (not a big one, but something). A lot of money was invested in issuing the PCT patent document with an hope for creating impact on investors, and a lot of time was invested on focusing on solutions for large e-commerce website.
Those that follow us probably note that a lots of effort was invested on solutions for e-commerce while other sections on content Glass such as the Android Web Client that was the major focus on the end of 2014 was almost avoided. And indeed we put lots of efforts on developing Experts Glass, focusing on e-commerce websites.
However things didn't worked the way I expected. Despite our huge investment for establishing a prototype for e-commerce we finally did not engaged with the specific e-commerce customer we expected to run our prototype with. This was a huge disappointment. And on the other end, many requests sent to Israeli investors was simply avoided. Well, in two, three cases we got a polite email as response - but no talking, not even one phone asking to know more about what we are doing.
We changed a direction and get back to the source, trying to find channels on which we can distribute things we developed so far. As result we created a plugin for Wordpress, Drupal and Finally Shopify where our first custom solution customer arrive from. At the same time I started to search for alternative assets that may function as income sources for Content Glass. This is How Priceli service was created. And of course, there has been personal changes. Following that twilight zone Tomer has left the team for the purpose of having full time job that could not be obtained in the frame of Rhizome Networks.
Despite the hugh disappointment, looking back I can say, that 2015 is the year in which Content Glass has turn from personal idea shared by inner team, into something with presence out there. And as long as I get deep into it, more and more potential use-cases are invoked. Some of them are only written, waiting to be handled, other turn into live applications. The efforts are now focused especially on Shopify, trying to interest shop owners with various solutions. Some of them will be presented by future blogs. A customer on Priceli is now in the steps of moving to production after lots of support iterations.
Thinking about this twilight zone period I remember an article I red few years ago that mention the term "Cold start". So I assume this is it. It is very cold but it also a start.
Here are few of the things we did and achieved this year:
Outsourcing software services
Filing PCT patent.
Application framework for crating Web client CG apps.
Experts Glass prototype
Experts Dashboard app
You Tube channel
Stamping Glass app prototype
e-Commerce widgets- Shopping-List, blackboard
SSE - server->client live update mechanism
Mobile adjustments to Web client
Facebook playground application
New face for www.contentglass.com and developers.contentglass.com
Demonstrating integration with social-sharing button
First few Installations on Wordpress
First few Installations on Shopify
Share Poem Writing app
P2P improvements and Video Chat
Server Widgets API
Thank you for reading and happy new year.