Maneno Hits Beta

One of the things that been taking up most of my waking hours beyond normal work is getting Maneno functional. I’ve mentioned this project here and there, but now it deserves an article unto itself as it’s finally moved in to the ‘beta’ phase. While this term has been massively overused in the whole Web 2.0 shebang, it still has it’s purposes. For instance, the version up to this point was Alpha. It was rough and there were a lot of things still unknown about it. With this Beta release, people who might have checked it out before should check it out again. The site looks and interacts on a completely different level now. It is much more complete and now we are working to refine elements to it.
The focus of the site has been honed as well. In what we’re deeming, Stage 1, we’re focusing on creating a blogging, communication, and media platform for Sub-Saharan Africa. Many people might be asking, “Why? There’s already WordPress, Blogspot, and a slew of others.” This is true and when it comes to large blogging systems, many of these do an excellent job. The main issue with them is that they’re for the web at large as viewed from developed nations. The web in developing nations is a much different beast.
To that end, we’re really focusing on a few key points:
– Number One is localization. We’re really working like crazy to get Maneno translated and functional in six languages. And by localized, we mean every part. Someone will eventually be able to only speak Swahili or French and be able to use the entire site without anything popping up in English. It’s not as easy as it sounds because the internet by definition is English-centric (due to the parts that make it being developed in the US in English), but we’re working to make this possible.
– Number Two is download speed. Web 2.0 came up with the brilliant plan that any website can be up to one meg a page to download. While this can work for those in the US, the further away from the server you get, the longer the website takes to load. And of course, if you factor in that most people in the world are not on broadband internet, then you run in to real problems. With Maneno, we’re working to keep the pages as small as possible in order to keep up accessibility for everyone. Right now, the home page is about 60kb and I’m striving to shave even a little bit more off that is possible. Compare that to a normal WordPress blog home page, at about 225kb (if there aren’t any images to the articles) and you understand what I mean.
– Number Three is an eventual plan to allow alternative updating to the site. In other words, users won’t have to use the web to write articles. This is also a very key point as internet connectivity is paltry over the vast majority of Sub-Saharan Africa. There are a few options out there which I’m exploring now, but this will be an eventual feature that we’ll add to the site, so more on it later.
These three points are the main ones. We’re working to have all of this come together in to a system that will work to inform better than any before it and have the ability and elasticity to not only last for awhile, but be able to change and incorporate other good things that come along on the web. After all, this isn’t just an installation of WordPress, Typepad, or Drupal; it’s an application.
Maneno Hits Beta