Cool alert: Zude, Visual development environment for the Web (adds OpenSocial support)

I just witnessed a development environment that’s completely different than anything I’ve ever seen.

Steve Repetti, CTO of Fifth Generation Systems, which is the author of Zude. Now, if you haven’t seen Zude before, that’s pretty cool in of itself. It’s like MySpace, PopFly, Facebook, and a bunch of other things mashed all together. Steve calls it the “next generation of social computing.”

But today he was here to let me look under the covers of Zude and show me the development side of Zude.

There was so much that I kept shooting with my cell phone. This is simply amazing. I can’t say enough about what this tool is trying to do.

Drag-and-drop development of Web apps.

Here’s the five videos.

Part I 4:50, introduction to Zude and to the development capabilities of such.
Part II 11:52, talking about data portability.
Part III 5:06, looking more at the canvas and what can be done with code objects. More details on the Open Social capabilities.
Part IV 9:33, finishing off the app and distributing it.
Part V. 5:12, just having fun and throwing out ideas.

This is the first time these capabilities have been demonstrated in public. So, what did Steve show me, just in case you don’t have time to view the videos?

First, Zude is a canvas where you can drag and drop all sorts of stuff: videos, maps, images, blogs, RSS feeds, whole Web sites, text, links, code, MySpace themes, and almost any kind of thing you can imagine.

But, on this demo Steve focused on the code.

Went over to Google’s Gadgets site, found some interesting code, dragged it onto Zude and it instantly turned into a fish tank, with swimming fish. What? How did it %^&^%$%^& do that?

He did it with something else. This time a whole tile, with names, and addresses and photos appeared. OK, he has my attention.

Keep in mind, this works on Firefox, Safari, IE on Linux, Macs, or Windows. No install. Just visit and get started. Just click on the Tools menu, developer selection.

You can try it yourself.

But it just gets better from there. He also showed me a Facebook app that supported Open Social that they built. It shows that they are pushing Open Social data from Zude into Facebook. They are also doing it through a PHP proxy that lets them deliver ANY server-side language into Facebook. In the case on the video they are using FBML on the Facebook side and on the canvas app.

He showed me a separate tile on Zude that was a default object in Zude. Friends and Family thumbnail. There are a ton of default objects in Zude. He dragged that to the canvas and his friend’s picture and name appeared, along with other data. He also demonstrated the security built into Open Social, so if people didn’t want their info available to the Open Social app they could block it.

Then he showed me a bunch of objects that he dragged out, and demoed how you can build and deploy a really interesting Web app in just a few minutes. I can’t do this justice in a text blog. You have to see this.

We’ll do another interview on our Hi-def cameras, but that won’t be until late April at the earliest (we’re booked). Either way, these low-quality videos will give you a sense of why this is so impressive and will help you get started playing around.

"I love Fake Steve Jobs" and Facebook's PR crisis

Here’s my Fake Steve Jobs story (Fake Steve Jobs is a blog that pretends it’s written by Apple CEO/co-founder Steve Jobs. It got popular this year and recently it was revealed that a Forbes Magazine employee is its author).

Last week I was getting an iced latte at the new Peets in Half Moon Bay. I was wearing a Blogger T-shirt. Old school. There a lady came up to me and asked “is that the Fake Steve Jobs T-shirt?”

I remembered that FSJ published his blog on Blogger and figured the Blogger logo was confusing this lady who assumed it was FSJ’s logo. Blogger, as you know, is the blog service from Google which was started by Evan Williams, er, evhead.

Anyway, I explained to her that the logo wasn’t really Fake Steve Jobs, but rather the tool he published with. Demonstrates that there’s a lot of brand power in Fake Steve Jobs.

As she walked away she said “I love Fake Steve Jobs.”

Truth be told I love FSJ too. Why?


1. He’s funny, even when he attacks me.
2. Everytime he links he sends boatloads of traffic. I don’t know why I love that, but it makes me happy to see that Fake Steve Jobs has boatloads more readers than Valleywag does (Valleywag says they have tons of traffic, but they don’t click on anything. I’ve been on both sites dozens of times and FSJ’s audience clicks at 20x the rate that Valleywag’s does).
3. He’s been talking about me looking for a job lately which brings a big smile to my face although someone shoot me if I ever take a CEO job. That doesn’t sound fun to me at all. Lucrative, yes, but not fun and I simply wouldn’t be good at that.
4. He’s a lot better writer than I am.
5. He’s a lot better speaker than I am.
6. He has a cool job at a big business magazine (Forbes).

I wish I could get FSJ on my show. Something fun would be to do a little debate about something. Remember, the guy who writes Fake Steve Jobs is actually a Forbes magazine employee, Daniel Lyons. He was the guy who wrote a cover article back in 2005 about how blogs sucked. Everyone who thinks Daniel is such a great blogger should go back and read that article and compare his beliefs back then with FSJ today. Oh, sorry, that’s not funny.

I wonder if Daniel still feels the same way about blogs attacking brand value now that he uses a blog to attack other people, companies, and things?

Or, we could be more professional and debate industry topics like the state of Apple’s brand value or whether the Amazon Kindle is well designed or not.

Hmmm, maybe we should just do a panel session at a conference and debate about how much value Facebook is going to destroy due to horrible PR? That might be entertaining.

Facebook has the most controlling PR department outside of Apple and it sure is in the middle of a PR crisis right now.

I feel ambivalent about the troubles Facebook is having right now. Personally I’m having lots of trouble with Facebook but Facebook doesn’t care about people who have more than 5,000 friends unless they can figure out a way to monetize us. Everytime I look at Facebook I am reminded of how little Facebook cares about me. So, I care less and less about Facebook every day.

My phone number is on my Facebook entry. Interesting that Facebook could use me to answer the community’s concerns. I’d give them hours of video time on my show. But they only seem interested in talking to big-brand journalists and I’m not interested enough to pull out my Fast Company business cards to get them to pay attention. They should invite 40 bloggers who are lower on the TechMeme leaderboard than me and just have a conversation about the mess they are in. But they’ll never do that because they are so damn controlling about what they say and who they say it to.

For completeness, here’s Facebook’s official answer to the latest troubles with its Beacon advertising scheme.

Anyway, that was a really long entry to say that I’d rather read Fake Steve Jobs than log into Facebook lately. At least with FSJ I get entertained as I get bashed. With Facebook I just am reminded that there’s more than 1,000 people that I can’t help because of Facebook’s lame scalability issues. MySpace or upstart Zude are sure looking better and better. Just get that OpenSocial platform done and let’s get on with it!

Demo of the Year 2007: Zude

If you search Google for “Demo of the Year” you’ll find my writeup of Microsoft’s Photosynth.

But last week I got the demo of the year that I’ve seen since then. Zude is a new way to create Web experiences. I can’t really call them pages anymore. Anyway, this is a long one — this demo is so cool that we went an entire hour. Rocky also edited down a “Editor’s Choice” which is a lot shorter (only eight minutes).

Zude has some of the coolest JavaScript I’ve ever seen. Anyone have something cooler?

Oh, and this proves that you can take an hour to do a demo and still engage me.

UPDATE: I just asked Rocky and he agrees that this is the coolest commercial thing he’s seen come through my show.

Zude is really aimed at killing MySpace but I love how you can build Web pages, er, experiences.