Now and then you have an experience which pulls together so many different things that in its sum you realize how remarkable the experience was. I recently had an experience like this in the domain of Internet software development and distribution, and wanted to share.
Over the past few weeks I've been using a great news aggregator and blogging client, Newzcrawler. I won't get into praises for the software here (it is a pleasure to use). I've been using it to create blog entries for my Radio weblog. Newzcrawler has an excellent WYSIWYG/Code editor that's well integrated with your blog reading/aggregation workflow. It makes composing and posting items a breeze. It uses XML-RPC (Blogger API and MetaWeblog API) to post/publish entries.
I had been seeing an odd behavior with characters (quotes and apostrophes) being escaped improperly, resulting in my posts using " instead of " inside of HTML elements, like HREF tags. My content was broken, requiring me to go into the raw, posted source and edit it. No big deal, but a hassle.
I sent a quick note to the creator of Newzcrawler, Andrew Tumashinov, and to Dave Winer letting them know of the problem. Immediately, Dave connected me with Radio developer Jake Savin, and Jake and Andrew were communicating. Shortly after both created patches/fixes to their software addressing the problem in the XML-RPC encodings. My software was fixed transparently and now I'm back to productive blogging.
Altogether, this was a beautiful experience. Here's why:
- XML and web services are beautiful things. It's wonderful to see platforms emerging where content and data can freely flow from any machine, with many software developers targetting these systems easily and openly. This experience reinforced the fact that XML-based services are real and flowering.
- Blogging and micro-content. It helped me realize even further that structured, personal content (enforced and enabled by blogging, XML and RSS) are happening and powerful client software is emerging to empower people to create it.
- Distributed software development and distribution. A saw a quick and simple snapshot of distributed software engineering happening. Two companies across the globe from one another were collaborating, exchanging a contract (so to speak), fixing and re-distributing their software all in a matter of hours.
Connecting people, software, data and content faster than ever before -- that was my experience. And we've come so far so fast. Everything is more fluid and transparent --- software creation and distribution; collaboration and communication; data and content exchange and publishing. It's good to step back and pat our industry (and in particular the hero developers and cottage companies that are the real innovators) on the back now and then.