Maneno – a lightweight blogging platform for folks heading to the field

by Jon Thompson on February 22, 2009

A few days ago I posted on Loband and how it’s the perfect tool for browsing the web in low bandwidth environments.  Miquel dropped by to read the post but also to let us know about Maneno which is a lightweight blogging platform that he and his team have created.  His comment sparked a discussion with Alan Jackson over at Aptivate, the creators of Loband, and while most of the back and forth is fairly technical Alan took the time to lay out some observations he has made of the Maneno platform.  It looks like a great product and it seems like a perfect tool for that mass of aid workers that start blogs primarily to keep their friends back home updated and to let their families know that they are still alive.  It has very low bandwidth demands and offers a clean and simple interface.  Please check it out and let us know what you think but first head over and check out the rest of the comments.  Here’s a taste:

Miguel it’s great to hear about your lightweight blogging system. We’ve been thinking there was a need for something like that for a while. Are you going to release the code / templates open source? You might be interested in our web design guidelines where we go through various techniques for optimising the size of web pages. We came up with a target page size of 25KB using estimates of the bandwidth you get on the desktop in African universities.

The 50KB typical page size of Maneno is fantastic, especially when you consider the average web page size is now over 300KB (which would have a 2 minute download time on a 20Kb/s connection). If you’re interested in shaving off even more, you might want to have a look at converting RGB images to images with indexed palettes or reducing the number of indexed colours down to something like 32.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Miquel February 22, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Thanks for the great comments, Jon. They really mean a lot when you’re working to get something like this off the ground. I’m also glad that I was pointed towards this blog, since it focuses on a great number of topics that are near and dear to me.
By the way, given your audience, I’d like to point out the Wazungu Blog. This is an option for people on the join page to be part of this group blog. It’s something that we set up because there are so many expats who work short stints in Africa of just a few months. Some folks start blogs only to get home and wonder, “Huh, what the heck am I gonna do with this now? I’m not there anymore so… huh.”
Wazungu allows people all the benefit of a Maneno blog (which will include SMS blogging in the near future) without the commitment of starting up a fulltime blog. Sort of a blogging test run. In the next month or so, we’re going to add in the function where, if someone decides that they’re going to stay longer in their position and want to have their own blog, they’ll be able to “flip a switch” and have any posts in Wazungu switch to their blog.
We have only started to pitch this around, so there aren’t any articles there yet, but we see it being a portion of Maneno that could really work well for some people in the future. And of course, because it’s so new, we’re going to updating the theme of it in due course as well to have more personality. We’d love to hear any feedback on the idea as well.

Chris Watkins March 31, 2009 at 1:09 pm

That’s really nice . but for those of us who really love WordPress, I’m hoping someone builds either a loband extension (I suspect it’s not that simple, but I’m not a coder), or a good clear guide on how to tweak WordPress for loband.

Miquel April 18, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Heh, WordPress would not be the WordPress you love if taking it to loband. What makes it great is what makes it heavy. That’s why we’re working from the ground up to making something specifically designed for low bandwidth first and foremost. You can get the homepage down to 8kb if you login and use the feature to dial in your connection needs.

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