Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chess Publishing, Web 2.0 Style

I have answered a number of e-mails in the past month from people who would like "to set up a chess website" (their exact words) for their club or for themselves. At first I wrote back trying to give some traditional web publishing pointers to these folks based on my experience. In the process, I realized that doing an old fashioned HTML website like ours is a lot of work, requires more than the standard computer literacy, and can cost some money if you want to do it right. And I also realized that, really, there is just no good reason to do that sort of thing anymore in this Web 2.0 universe, where web-based, browser-access, collaborative, point-and-click publishing is so accessible, free, fast, and easy. So now I'm going to write up my new advice so that from now on I can just send them the link!

I recently made the leap into Web 2.0 software for a class I'm teaching this semester, and I am now convinced that the easy way is the better way. The only downside I see is that, basically, you are often trusting in these Web 2.0 companies both to survive and to continue hosting your stuff for free (and without frequent server downtime). But at this point, that seems like a pretty good gamble, at least for as long as your stuff is going to have any currency anyway (and then you can always hope that the Wayback Machine takes it from there).

So the best way, IMHO, for anyone who wants to get started with online chess publishing can be stated in a single sentence: set up a blog at Blogger or WordPress (or use those programs to publish to your own host); use Chesspublisher or Game Replayer to create java applets of your games; use ChessUp, Chess Diagram Generator, or Steve Eddins's ChessImager to create diagrams; and use YouTube to host your videos (until Chess Videos starts taking uploads). That would not be hard, could reach a wide audience, and would not require even a fraction of the work that I put into the KCC site.

Besides those sites just mentioned, there are also a number of cool Web 2.0 applications coming out every day with potential uses for chesspublishing, especially from Google and Zoho. I think I'll bet on Google to have the greater longevity -- though no one would be surprised to see Microsoft buy up Zoho and make it even more competitive.

To get started trying out Google's new collaborative Web 2.0 tools, all you have to do (if you haven't done so already) is set up a Google account. Here are three programs they offer that I really like using:
  • Google Docs
    I am a big fan of this web-based equivalent of MS Word, and I recommend you watch the excellent video "Google Docs in Plain English" at YouTube for an overview. This would be a useful application for anyone collaborating on a web or paper publication with a number of writers.
  • Google Page Creator
    Create a home page and additional pages, then go back and link them all together for easy navigation. Even if a blog covers your publishing needs well enough, this online webpage builder can also serve as a good place to post files online for reference by your blog (if you are not satisfied with the way Blogger handles this).
  • Picasa (requires free download)
    This is Google's slimmed down version of Photoshop, which is best for photo editing and has a great red-eye tool. It also allows you to post images to the "Picasaweb," but I noticed that Jim West tried this and then switched back to Blogger's method instead due to loading delays.
Zoho has a number of offerings that are pretty much equivalent to Google's, but they also have rather unique ones as well, including:
  • Zoho Viewer
    Looking for an easy place to post and share documents, files, or pictures? Try Zoho Viewer, as explained in this video.
  • Zoho Wiki
    Tired of the Wikipedia pinheads denying the existence of the Knights Errant? Create your own wiki and forget about them. Ideal for maintaining lists (such as of club members). If you want to maintain a collaborative list of links on the web, then del.icio.us might work better.
Of course, all of this assumes you know how to generate and edit PGN files (see 1, 2, 3, 4 for explanation) using Fritz, Shredder, Rybka, Chess Assistant Lite, Arena, SCID, Chesspad, Chess Cat, or a true Web 2.0 PGN generator like PGN Web Editor by Lapides Software (anyone know of other online utilities like this one?) You might also like to have ChessBase Light 2007, but it has limitations for creating PGN files (be sure to see ChessBase Downloads for tutorials). Posting games for display on the web should always begin with well-edited PGN files.

I generally still do things the old fashioned way, so I'm not sure my blog offers the best examples of how to be a true Web 2.0 chess publisher. But here are some good model Web 2.0 sites that I've seen:
I welcome others to share their sites and tell us the Web 2.0 tools they are using.

9 comments:

Rook House said...

My chess blogsite at http://www.rookhouse.com/blog/ uses WordPress, MyChess PGN viewer, Chess Publisher, and Chess Captor.

Thanks,
Morphy
Rook House Admin

The Closet Grandmaster said...

See also here: http://closetgrandmaster.blogspot.com/2008/01/better-looking-chess-websites.html

- TCG

Centurionchessclub said...

Excellent doc ! thank you !
http://www.centurionchessclub.co.za
uses Dotnetnuke for multiple club members to edit and maintain website.

Centurionchessclub said...

Excellent doc ! thank you !
Centurion Chess Cub
uses Dotnetnuke for multiple club members to edit and maintain website.

Nikolai Pilafov said...

Thanks,
The article gives us an excellent overview of commonly used tools and techniques. I quite agree that “the easy way is the better way” and I consider that to be the most important argument for selecting a chess publishing method.

On my site Chess Web Publishing you can find about a brand new approach which, I believe, gets much closer to what is usually labeled as a modern Web.

Glenn Wilson said...

If you are using Blogger or host your own web site, you can just go to http://chessflash.com/chessflash.html and paste in your pgn hit preview (dink with the settings if you want to change colors, layout, etc) and then copy-n-paste the resulting html code into your blog post.

Stephen Mugglin said...

This is more of a webpage approach rather than a blog approach, but I've been experimenting with Paolo Casaschi's open-source javascript chessboard called pgn4web. Some of the applications do include blogging, but I've been focusing on designing web pages with larger and more colorful chess game displays. (You can see how it looks at ChessOnTheBeach.com on the "Watch" page... I suggest "60 Memorable Games of Bobby Fischer")

I've also designed an editable template which allows easy creation of a Game Display page for chess clubs or teams. (It's on the "You Can Display Games On The Web" page at ChessOnTheBeach.com.)

These diagrams are not small, but in some chess education situations, a bigger chessboard on the screen would probably be a benefit when several students are standing around.

editme said...

I would suggest Editme, its a wiki hosting service that helps non-technical users to quickly and easily build editable web sites. www.editme.com

Ian Simpson said...

My chess blog uses a combination of Blogger, ChessBase and ChessFlash:
http://tws27.blogspot.co.uk/