December 24, 2008

Kakuteru - Roll Your Own FriendFeed On Your Own Site

By Mike Fruchter of (Twitter/FriendFeed)

Lifestreaming was a big thing for social media in 2008, and surely will be even bigger in 2009. Thanks to sites like FriendFeed, and others, we can easily aggregate our social activities into one central place. As with all of these services, we must log into the service's Web site to see and stream our activity. That is fine for the majority of us, but what about self-hosted lifestreaming? Solutions include Sweetcron and a ton of advanced PHP scripts that can be found at the lifestreamblog.

The problem, however, is that a lot of these scripts are complicated, and if you do not have basic PHP coding skills, you are pretty much out of luck. This is where Kakuteru comes into play. Kakuteru is an open source lifestreaming application built on Ruby On Rails, with the key difference being that it uses your your stream as the core lifestream backend. It falls into the self-hosted lifestreaming category because you have the ability to mask your Kakuteru service URL to a domain name, as I did for testing purposes. It's completely customizable as well.

Wait a second. This looks a lot like Sweetcron!

Dominiek ter Heide, the creator of Kakuteru, got his inspiration and design from sweetcron, but that's where the similarities end. Sweetcron is completely self hosted, being you must install and upload the files to your Web server. Sweetcron also runs on PHP, and gives you the ability to import any type of activity stream via an RSS feed. Lastly, Sweetcron stores all of your content on your server.

Kakuteru, on the other hand, is Web-based, and only aggregates your FriendFeed activity for your lifestream backend. In other words, you need a FriendFeed account for this to work properly. You have the ability to strictly post HTML content, if you decided not to aggregate any of your FriendFeed services. You also have the ability to toggle on and off the FriendFeed services you want to lifestream, so if you wanted your Kakuteru lifestream to strictly display Google Reader shares and Youtube videos, you would be able to do so.

Okay, so what's so special about this?
  • The ability to import your FriendFeed stream to a custom domain name with full customization
  • Semantic features such as autotagging of tweets and articles using
  • Related articles & tweets are shown for each entry.
  • Blog posts can be written and posted using textile, markdown or HTML.
Kakuteru uses to support comments on articles & stream updates, and published articles have the ability to display Tweet-this, Digg and also, if you choose to enable these social components. "Me on other sites" are automatically gathered from your Friendfeed account.

Oh, and did I mention it's open source?

Out of the box:

It's very vanilla out of the box, as you can see in the screenshot above, or by going to Give your stream a custom feel and fit by customizing your CSS, headers and about page. Select the services you want to display, by default it will stream all of your FriendFeed services. Be sure to add your domain name and follow the instructions for pointing your dns to your Kakuteru account.

Extra integration:

Kakuteru allows you to seeminglessly incorporate Web 2.0 features and functions, such as your own custom Disqus forum, Feedburner feed, Dopplr schedule and social bookmarking services. No editing of code is necessary, it's a simple plug and play process.

Activity stats:

One of the features I particularly like is the activity stats. Kakuteru gives you two sets of stats. Daily activity, services used and hoURLy activity. Who doesn't love colorful bar graphs?

Final verdict:

I'm particularly not too big on self-hosted lifestreams, as I prefer the real deal with the community interaction behind it, i.e. FriendFeed. If I was looking for a custom solution, I would use this, but it's currently limited to only your FriendFeed data. If you are not on FriendFeed, this application will be of little use to you other than creating a bare-bones HTML blog post. I do like that it is semantically-driven and offers a ton of bells and whistles, and like Sweetcron, it's open source. This application showcases a lot of what Sweetcron is currently lacking, the creator has put some thought and time into it and it's obvious by looking at the feature set. Since the creator of this app took his que from Sweetcron, I would like to see this application be able to save your lifestreaming data to your server. Offer that, and you have a real winner on your hands.

Kakuteru is currently in closed Beta, so be sure to register as a second round of invites will be going out soon.

Read more by Mike Fruchter at