Microsoft Releases Open-source Content Management App

Microsoft has released an early version of an open-source content management platform that developers can use to build sophisticated blogs or large Web sites.

Called Oxite, its creators describe it as a standards-compliant and highly extensible content management platform. They built it not because there is a need for another blog engine, but because they were building the MIX Online site for Web designers and wanted to offer an example of a use for ASP.NET MVC, according to the Oxite Web site.

ASP.NET MVC lets developers use ASP.NET to build Web applications using an architecture called model-view-controller. Microsoft released a preview of the ASP.NET MVC framework, designed to make it easier for developers to test applications, late last year.

Oxite includes a number of important blog functions that can be complex to implement, according to Microsoft. The framework offers many features common in blogs, including pingbacks, trackbacks, anonymous or authenticated comments with the option to moderate comments, RSS feeds for any page and a Web administration panel.

It’s also designed for users to easily add new Web pages and sub-pages.

At first glance Oxite appears to compete with established blogging products including those from Six Apart. However, Microsoft says that Oxite is designed for developers, rather than less-technical Web users wanting to set up a blog.

“Oxite is targeted at developers who want to learn ASP.NET MVC,” according to a brief FAQ on the Oxite site. “If the community decides to build this to work well for consumers down the road we won’t stop it.”

The Oxite Web site calls this a sample, or alpha release. The code was posted on Friday and had been downloaded by 300 people late Monday afternoon. The MIX Online site is the only one listed so far among sites using the Oxite code base.

Google Launch Data Portability Programs

Google and Facebook separately announced the general availability of their respective data portability programs on Thursday.

Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect are generally designed to extend social-networking capabilities broadly across the Web.

In the real world, this means making it possible for people to use their previously created Google and Facebook accounts to sign in to other Web sites that accept them. That way, people don’t have to create an account for every Web site that requires one, reducing the number of log-in details they need to remember.

MySpace’s Data Availability Initiative has a similar mission.

These programs also aim to let people port elsewhere content they have entered into Google, Facebook and MySpace, like profile information, photos, notes, list of contacts, comments, status updates and the like.

In its announcement on Thursday, Google said Friend Connect is now available to any Web site publisher and that the social features available can be added by copying and pasting snippets of code, so advanced technical knowledge isn’t necessary.

To access Friend Connect features on a Web site, people can log in using not only their account information from Google but also from Yahoo, AOL and the industry standard OpenID, Google said.

Meanwhile, Facebook urged its users to contact their favorite Web sites and encourage them to implement Facebook Connect, which is already running on places like Citysearch, CNN’s The Forum and CBS’ The Insider.

Still, the grand vision of widespread and seamless data portability is far from complete, as these and other initiatives are fairly recent, and important technology and privacy issues remain unsolved.

For example, days after the initial announcements of their data portability programs in May, Google and Facebook promptly locked horns and have been unable to work out their differences. Facebook blocked Google’s Friend Connect service from accessing Facebook members’ data, saying the Google program violates its terms of services because it redistributes Facebook user information to developers without users’ knowledge.