Feature

No programming knowledge required at dotcom

Moonfruit.com aims to allow anyone to create a Web site. Venetia Thompson meets the man behind it

Moonfruit was conceived in early 1999, spurred by the belief that anyone could create their own Web site without programming knowledge. The Moonfruit site was created as a hub for discussion, debate and inspiration.

Moonfruit is a developer for interactive media applications for online businesses. Any Internet user can build a Flash-based Web site with games, animations, music, sound effects and news feeds.

Eirik Pettersen, Moonfruit's chief technology officer, says, "I was responsible for putting all the pieces together - the Web design agency for the front-end, the original architecture design, hiring a technology server team and co-location services and designing the original server architecture for the back end."

The application runs on Sun Solaris Unix, the database is Sybase and Apache is the Web server. The entire application is written in Flash 4. Perl was used to tie the database to Flash, and stored procedures to read and write from the database. There were five developers on the front and four on the back.

"We actually overran by a month," says Pettersen. "We were particularly ambitious. But we were proud of putting together a huge project in five months with so few bugs,"

The technology was created for licensing together businesses on ASP models, so integration is customised according to customer desire.

More than 60,000 personal sites have been created on Moonfruit since its launch in January. And Pettersen says Moonfruit is in serious discussions with a number of media companies to offer its technology to their consumers.

Pettersen's best moments while working on the site were seeing the first end-to-end demonstration work. "Another was launch day, we were fortunate to hit our deadline on the day. We had a huge response and great feedback. The worst moment we had was oddly the same day. The servers were running at 99% and service was grinding to a halt. We were worried we had miscalculated the load. But we found one line in the server configuration file was wrong, so we fixed it and usage fell to 2%. What a sigh of relief."

But now things are running smoothly. "We have taken a lot of feedback from original users, and are using this to drive next releases such as ease of use and personalised content," Pettersen says.

His next project is an upgrade of Moonfruit's Web site building technology, due in November. Licensing applications will go live before the end of the year.

Curriculum Vitae

Name: Eirik Pettersen

Job title: chief technology officer, Moonfruit

Age: 29

Qualifications: BSc (Hons) physics, PhD quantum nanophyics

IT Skills: analyst programmer/technical architect, Java, C, Fame, Solaris SysAdmin

Hobbies: gym, food, music, golf

Favourite book: Dune by Frank Herbert

Pettersen on Pettersen: fun, innovative, thoughtful


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This was first published in November 2000

 

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