We're currently working on an update to the NewsCloud design with our friends at Blink Interactive in Seattle. Here are a few of our goals:
1. Improve the last major design upgrade (as seen on The Needle). We want to tune the widgets so that they better use space and encourage interactivty. We also want to tune the aesthetic of fonts and spacing. We really want to hone in on the specific set of default widgets for a social media home page that encourage participation and sharing. You can check out some early wireframes on the update from Blink.
2. We're creating two new themes so that open source users will have three themes overall to choose from when launching their site. And, of course, they can use any of these as a starting point to customize.
While this installation script is primarily aimed at open source developers, by the end of June we plan to offer an automated Chef-based installation which will drastically simplify this process for non-technical folks.
Today, we're announcing the third stable release of the NewsCloud Ruby on Rails Facebook-connected community platform. You can download the code at Github now. This release was generously funded by our 2010-2011 grant by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Read the sneak preview of our open source work planned for 2011 - 2012. We're going to keep making this platform simpler and more affordable. Follow@newscloud on Twitter for announcements of our continued work.
We plan at least one more major release before the end of our current grant April 30, 2011. We plan to continue to improve the capabilities of the platform with a few new features and will continue simplifying the installation and administrative requirements of the platform.
We've release the final version of our 1.0 codebase for Ruby on Rails for our Facebook news community application. You can see an example running at The Charlotte Observer's Insight application.
You can fork or download the code at github - grab the Release I Final branch. This is an excellent opportunity for open source developers to try out the platform. We're giving away 5 $25 iTunes Gift Cards to the first five developers to install an application. Email us with details to claim yours.
Going forward, you can participate in our open discussions on the evolution of the platform at our TenderApp support site (thanks TenderApp for donating your service to open source projects like ours).
We'll be adding new features again - some exciting stuff will be coming soon. Stay tuned.