Kynetx Endpoints and Linux


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Over the weekend, Travis Hartwell tweeted "I would try out Kynetx, but it appears the required plug-in Azigo is not available for Linux." Alas, It's true that Azigo doesn't support Linux. Still, there are some ways to use Linux to develop and deploy Kynetx apps. In fact, I do all my development on Linux.

We call the way that a Kynetx app is deployed an "endpoint." The endpoint is responsible for initiating the call to KNS and mediating the interaction with the client. The details of the execution model are available online.

There are several ways that Kynetx apps can be deployed beyond an information card selector and associated browser extension:

  • Direct embedding - The tags to call KNS can be directly embedded within a Web site. That's what I do on this blog. I use directly embedded tags to run rules for everything from managing the block that shows my last tweet to posting the dates of the CTO breakfast from Google Calendar. The advantages of direct embedding are that its simple, fast, and require no user download. The disadvantage is that directly embedded tags can only mediate contextual experiences across coperating Web sites.
  • KIX bookmarklet - As I mentioned in this post about Sweetter, Kynetx apps can be deployed through a bookmarklet endpoint. The advantage of a bookmarklet is that the applications is only executed when the user wants. There are applications--like Sweetter--where this is precisely the right behavior. For some applications that would also be a disadvantage.
  • Proxy Endpoint - Kynetx apps can be deployed by a proxy. In this style of endpoint, a proxy server--like Squid--is used to insert the tags. This is advantageous when all the interactions of a group of network users are to be augmented. Think "free Wi-Fi at the coffee shop" for an example.
  • Single purpose BX - KNS can be called by a single purpose browser extension (BX). We've built these on a custom basis for clients and will soon support automatic BX builds in AppBuilder. The advantage of a single purpose BX is simplicity, but you give up the flexibility and security of the selector and information cards.
  • Selector-based BX - Finally, there's the method we've been pushing: using information cards in a selector as keys for a BX acting as endpoint to call KNS. There are significant security advantages to this endpoint strategy and it's extremely flexible for the user. I think this will be the primary endpoint type for KNS, but by no means the only one.

In addition to these endpoints, we also still support Kynetx Pilot, a Firefox extension for running Kynetx applications. Pilot isn't something you'd ask your users to use, but it works for development.

Still, I believe that deploying through an information card selector is the most secure and flexible way to use KNS. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to support a Linux selector (like DigitalMe) with an open source browser extension. This is important to us and will happen as we get more resources.

In the meantime, it's reasonable to develop applications on Linux using AppBuilder and Pilot that can be distributed using any of the endpoints I've discussed above, or using information cards.