Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fire up your engines

We have gone alpha, which means that the site( http://www.citipals.com/ ) is now ready to start accepting some basic data, like names of businesses, addresses, others details, and the biggest of them all, images. We will roll out other features like reviews and invites over the next few weeks. Pl. give it a try, and give us your thoughts by clicking the feedback link at the bottom of the page.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Search Software - Lucene & Solr

We have been playing with Lucene Search for a few days now. In general, its a fairly well designed system with different modules for indexing, quering, storage, etc. We are working with the Zend port of Lucene to PHP ( at http://framework.zend.com/manual/en/zend.search.html ). It is currently at version 0.6 and there's at least one bug that we have discovered with it thus far, its the ability to do lookup on numeric values, like zipcodes, which we can't seem to get to work. We will mostly likely switch to the original java version soon.

I did want to point out Solr ( at http://lucene.apache.org/solr/tutorial.html ), they recently rolled out a 1.0 release. It is based on Lucene, the added features are distributed search( so it can support bigger indexes which can be partitioned over multiple servers ), and also has fault-tolerancy. Another useful feature is "guided navigation", also referred to as "contextual navigation" or "facade navigation". If you are looking to roll out search for your website/application, i suggest you take a look at Solr, it looks very promising.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Software Platform

Its important to nail down the software platform/stack that you will be building your application upon. In our case, we made a few changes, luckily they were at the very beginning, so we didn't lose a lot of time. In this post, i'll try to details the path we took, while making these decisions.

LAMP - Most folks have heard this by now, its Linux + Apache + MySql + PHP, and this stack powers a substantial number of the web sites out there. In our case, Linux was a no brainer,
given how robust and widespread it is today. However, we started off thinking that we would base ourselves on RedHat Linux. We discovered that Fedora was a better choice, as it had more updated packages(software) available as 'yum' packages. Also, we adopted Fedora 5.0, and not Fedora 6.0, reason being, most hosting companies currently do not support Fedora 6.0.

We looked very closely at Java, as our base programming language. The thinking was, its better to adopt one language that can do most everything you need to do when building an application, instead of using multiple languages. Also, Java is today extremely feature rich, with some very good frameworks, and has also gotten increased adoption over the years.

However, after much thinking, we settled for PHP. We thought that the OO ness was a layer that we could easily do without, web programming is really very simple, there's a request, a response, and a few things in between. And PHP lets us keep it simple. It has definitely helped us get off to a fast start ....

I'll talk about Symfony, Lucene and other topics in my next post.

The Idea - Friendship + Fun

CitiPals is a new site that will simply combine local-content with friendship-enabling features, to create a vibrant and active community of users. This community of users, as they explore a city( and its various joints and hangouts), will share their experiences ( good as well as not so good ) by writing reviews about these places. They will be able to easily and seamlessly share these experiences with their friends. They will also be able to establish new connections and friendship with other members of this community. All of the experiences put togather will not only protray your lively city, but also create useful content for other users, whether they live in your city, or simply plan to come visit it sometime.

Current plan is to roll this out first in Mumbai, and gradually all over India.