Why Fargo 2 technology is interesting

Note: Please don't point to this piece -- we're not ready to talk about this publicly yet. Soon!

Fargo 2 is an outline-based content management system for the web. Most CMS software is configured in Model #1 in the diagram below. Fargo 2 is configured differently, and this is a new way to do it with different economics.

A picture named models.gif

In the traditional model for content management, Model #1 in the diagram, most of the hard work is done on the server and there's a lightweight client written in JavaScript, that runs in the browser. The client assists the user in navigating a menu system for setting options and editing articles and images.

Because the heavy lifting is done on the server, and it's managing lots of users' sites, the servers are expensive. Huge data centers, with air conditioning and staff.

A different model has always been possible, Model #2 above. My earlier company, UserLand, pioneered this with Radio UserLand in January 2002. It put the heart of the CMS on the user's machine, in a separate app you had to download and install. At the time there was no "cloud" for us to tap into, no Amazon S3 or EC2, or Dropbox, for us to leverage. But it worked! Radio was a popular product, even though the user was running a little server on their desktop (and most had no idea they were).

Today we can do even better, because the browser running JavaScript is a very powerful environment. Installing a CMS on your machine can be done simply by loading a page. No software to install. It's really amazing when you think about it. (But not so amazing if you think how long it took to get here.)

Model #2 has very little downside today compared to 2002. The cloud is ubiquitous and reliable. The software runs in the browser, no app to install. And today's machines are hugely powerful and can render a modest size website in a second or less (really). It's fast.

The new Fargo, the beta that you're using, does almost all the work that a server-based CMS such as WordPress and Tumblr does. It relies on a tiny public component, called Fargo Publisher, which has been released under the MIT license. The protocol it uses is open, so other back-ends can be implemented, and other "static" software like Fargo can use it to help the user publish their work. I will document the protocol when it settles down, which will happen soon.

We're going to hack at making it easy to run this server. Right now it is not easy, but there's no reason it can't be. Then you can truly be independent and I think some amazing things can happen.

Please ask questions if you have them, in the comments below. I want to be really effective at communicating this. A lot of good will come from it, I think.

Last built: Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 6:48 AM

By Dave Winer, Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 12:46 PM. You should never argue with a crazy man.