I haven’t heard anything for several days about setting up a Minnesota graves project from those who are interested within the MNGenWeb Project. And I am a somewhat impatient person. So let me take a moment to explain a project I am working on with another developer – slowly slowly, as we both have other things taking up most of our lives.
We are working on a web app which falls into the CRUD class. A CRUD is something which lets you Create, Read, Update, and Delete a ‘something’, and it is amazing how most computer software are really highly-developed variants of this class. As often as not, computer games are instances of a CRUD: you create a user account, you use the game to read about your user account, you play the game to ‘update’ your user account, and if you get frustrated you can delete your user account.
Our project is nothing like a game. It isn’t like a website, either. It is intended to be an API, an application program interface. That means other programs can talk to it, and it is those programs which do the creating, reading, updating, and deleting – not people directly.
This is a little bit like what the Billion Graves (BG) project is doing: you have an app on your phone, or on your computer, and the program talks to the BG server. Anyone could write a program which could talk to the BG servers, asking for information about so-and-so, updating the entry about such-and-such. However, Billion Graves does not publish their API, and in fact are quite vigorous in suppressing anyone who might be interested in using it for any purpose. They also claim ownership and rights of all content submitted to their system, although carefully couched in phrasing which avoids actively infringing on their user’s copyrights (except the one about licensing – you as a copyright owner of your works may not, according to Billion Graves, revoke the license you grant them to use, sell, publish and profit from your works.)
Well, I do not like that. So I am helping to write a different api, one which will be public so anyone can write their own software to use the api to do anything it can do, on smartphones, tables, desktops, whatever. Or you can teach your website to go search the api. Or edit through your website for that matter. And it will be open source, so if you want to build your own graves project, you can. And you can set your own rules about who can see your content, under what license or terms of service (ours will probably be CC-BY-NC-ND, so authors can retain as much control over their contributions as they want but still share freely.)
And, with a little luck and a lot of hours of work ahead, I will be able to write another article introducing our alpha testing edition.