Moot aims to revolutionize online discussion technology

JavaScript-based platform features better integration with websites, allows search engines to crawl discussion content

Developers of the Moot online discussion technology are looking to improve Web conversation capabilities via tighter integration between sites and the application itself.

Leveraging both client- and server-side JavaScript, Moot is deployed as a cloud service run by Moot, Inc. "You can install Moot forums by copy-pasting a few lines of HTML on your website, and that's it. The content of discussion is centrally stored to our network," said Moot co-founder Tero Piirainen.

Moot represents a "radical shift" from current solutions, he said. "Perhaps the biggest benefit is that Moot can be easily embedded on any Web page. Instead of being just a third-party iframe, we're talking about true integration with full CSS support and JavaScript API." Discussion content becomes crawlable by search engines and is part of a site just like other HTML elements. While the Node.js JavaScript-based server side of Moot is optimized for performance, client goals include a simple API, small size, and a quick release cycle.

With Moot, an entire website can be turned into a discussion forum for commenting, unlike current, fragmented solutions, Piirainen stressed. "It makes no sense to have one solution for blog comments, then another one for forums, another one for help desk, and yet another for live chat," Piirainen said. "There will be varying user interfaces, separate authentication systems, and no [connectivity] between the solutions. Horrible user experience and a management hell."

Moot currently is in a beta stage of release with intentions to remove that designation in six months. Plans call for having a well-documented API, a suite of tests for the client, and the ability to import content from platforms like WordPress, Disqus, and Google Groups.

Developers in building Moot decided against using trendy JavaScript frameworks like Angular.js, Backbone.js, and Ember.js, said Piirainen. "Perhaps the biggest [reason] is that we want to build our API with vanilla JavaScript and don't want to have any framework to dictate how things should go. We want full control without mixed programming styles, dependency hells, and surprise issues." Having a small client also was a concern when considering JavaScript frameworks, since Moot is embeddable and frameworks are heavy, Piirainen said. There are already 20,000 registered forums using Moot, mostly small and medium sites. The biggest installation currently is in Africa.

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