Vikuit, a Social Networking Engine for Google's Appengine

I'm enjoying a lot this week! This weekend we had launched two new projects. We were working there since the start of this year. Both projects are very connected.

Some months ago, with Belustia & co, we were speaking about that we really miss a place to speak about voice technologies such as ASR and TTS in Spanish. We are working a lot there, and it’s hard finding online resources. We really found that the fact that there is few information about voice technologies is one of the bigger handicaps for their adoption here, in Spain. This is the key motivation that moves us to the Hispavox's born. is a place, just a try, for building a professional networking community focused on voice technologies, something what we call in Spanish “voz electrónica”. However, Hispavox is not only for high technicians. We wanted a place for users, too. A place where a Dragon'sNaturallySpeaking user can share its experience with professionals who are working with CMU Sphinx or some Android Developer, who is testing new Google’s voice features.

Even if now we are looking at voice’s technologies, we come from the web’s world. We know resources for building a community online, and we tested some. Our first option, were SAAS networking engines, such as Ning or They were good alternatives, but we didn’t like Ning's costs (now is not free, but even with the subscription, there are some limitations). Our test with was less convincing: we didn’t like that we started with the free account, and later they change its subscription model, making basic features as an own domain became only for the subscription account… With we had also some critical performance issues when we had one user online …

The second way that we looked, were enterprise engines like liferay or php based engines as drupal or elgg, deployed on amazon cloud. This way was really a very good option for creating an online community Using a full featured server like Liferay, is a great way for easily building a community. With amazon’s free micro-instance, the hosting was free, too. Liferay and Amazon cloud is an enterprise level solution that a good architect must recommend it, but…

However, we didn’t want to go so far. We only want three things: easy to deploy and develop, open source and free hosting. And we had a hidden wish: do it under google’s appengine. The truth, when we start to search for a social networking engine for GAE, we thought that we were going to find a lot, mountains of software. Which one try? The reality was that we only found few little applications that covered what a social networking engine means, and far from totality.

Searching, searching, we found a fantastic project near home. The guys from debugmodeon develop on 2009 his first version of his site for the appengine and they publish it on BerliOS under GPL v3. They used python, djanjo and jinja2. The technologies that we were looking at. Later they migrate to Java and hosted environment, but their code gave us a good foundation to do what we call Vikuit. Vikuit is the engine under hispavox , and it’s a try to have a full coloured social networking engine for google’s appengine.

Vikuit’s social networking engine has features as microbbloging, google’s authentication, articles, communities, forums, WYSWYG editor with ckEditor, image gallery. Suitable in English, Spanish and some other translation work in progress. We are working to finish a chat using google’s appengine capabilities and a text to speech service embedded for impaired people, suitable for 1.0 release. From developer view, we implemented the vikuilet’s, a way to add features taking all the advantage from using jinja2 and its hereby model. Its support themes and layouts, too. Of course, scalability, easy for deployment and all the great stuff for administration that Google’s appengine give us! We think that one of the Biggers advantages of Vikuit, relays on the free quota that gives us Google's Appengine. This means for a lot of sites, zero costs hosting. And this is a step forward.

We eat our meat, and we are using it on hispavox. You can take a tour looking at some basic “infrastructure” that we create for the project:

And the project’s page at

It’s open source, under GPL 3. Check the license. Free for use, free for host.

If you know Spanish, please, take a look to, the reason of all :)

2 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

From your experience, how many pages can bring for free ?

Jose Carrasco dijo...

Well, it will depend on the complexity your pages and the details of your vikuit installation, but typically around 5 million pages/ month for free.

It depends of the theme you choose, the amount of data you have, etc...

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