Business Software

Free Photo Sharing Service: Drag, Drop, and Publish

A pair of Boston-area entrepreneurs have launched a free photo-sharing service called min.us that makes distributing slideshows of your pictures as simple as dragging and dropping them onto a Web page, then sending out a resulting short URL via email, Twitter or Facebook.

While I'm not quite ready to call min.us a Flickr, Photobucket or Google Picasa killer, the new service's ease of use is impressive.

Also view our Picture of the Week: A so-called Invisible Fence

You simply go to the site – now in beta -- and then drag pictures onto the page from your computer's photo files. You name your gallery and are given two short URLs in the min.us format: one you can send to others to let them view your masterpieces and the other you can bookmark in case you want to edit your gallery.

Don't feel bad if your pictures aren't as remarkable as mine.

HTML5, JavaScript and more

The min.us platform was written using Python and JavaScript and is designed to support HTML5 browsers including Chrome, Firefox 3.6+and IE9, though "falls back" to Flash to support older versions of these and other browsers. Other technology underpinnings include the open source Django Web application framework as well as MySQL, Memcached and Ubuntu.

"Currently our entire back end is custom written and our front end will be changing a lot as we support more files," says John Xie, who is set to graduate from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., in May. He teamed with programmer Carl Hu, a former Microsoft SQL Server engineer, to develop min.us.

The two – who developed min.us in about a month's time after meeting recently at an entrepreneurship event-- credit Google Chrome engineer Glen Murphy's open source DropMocks prototype as inspiring them to do their project.

Min.us uses the Amazon EC2 compute cloud and its Elastic Block Service to store the database for high availability and the S3 service to store image files.

While plans are to keep min.us as a free service, the creators also are kicking around ways to make money, though don't plan to put them in place anytime soon. Currently, min.us is self-funded. The Shanghai-born Xie, now in his early 20s, already knows how to run a business though:

He started a Web hosting service called CirtexHosting when he was just 13.

"Our goal is to make min.us the next generation online sharing platform," Xie says. "We eventually also want to create APIs, plugins for other services, so min.us can be used anywhere to share files (including audio/video), documents and images."

On tap for min.us will be a cookie-based gallery tracking system, user registration and an increase in the allowable image size limit from 3MB to 7MB. Currently, 50 images can be included in a gallery, and images can be in many formats, including JPG, GIF and PNG. Images will be kept indefinitely and uploaders' identities are kept anonymous (however, the min.us FAQ notes that they do track IP addresses just in case they're needed to report something like child porn pictures).

You won't be impressed by my picture, but you can still follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alphadoggs

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