What is nderground?

An Overview of nderground

nderground is a social network that allows you to share with the people in your life, while still maintaining your privacy.

nderground is for anyone who wants to share their life with their friends and family, without worrying about public exposure. nderground is for families who want to post pictures of their children without exposing them to the larger Internet. nderground is for teachers, doctors, lawyers and journalists. nderground is for anyone who is concerned about privacy. On other social networks you have to carefully curate your public presence. On nderground you can be yourself.

Social networks like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn are designed for public exposure. Corporations and other groups join these social networks for publicity and to communicate with their customers. The public nature of social networks often results in unintended exposure. Some people are reminded that the material that they post is visible to over a billion people when it goes viral. Photographs posted on a social network of drinking or using illegal drugs have resulted in job offers being withdrawn.

nderground is not like other social networks. nderground is constructed from "the ground up" with privacy in mind. nderground users can go by their "handle" - there is no "true name" requirement on nderground. An nderground member is known only to their connections. On nderground these connections are called a Karass (a reference inspired by Kurt Vonnegut's book Cat's Cradle). Content that is posted on nderground can only be seen by a member's Karass (an exception exists for the nderground administrators).

For example, if Bob is a member of my Karass, I can see material posted by Bob on his page. Bob can see and comment on my posts and photos. If Bob's Karass includes Alice and Alice is not in my Karass, I can't see Alices posts and photos unless she is also in my Karass. This avoids a problem seen on other social networks where a post can be seen by friends-of-friends.

The privacy provided by nderground opens up a number of uses that can be difficult with other social networks:

  • A private group for planning your wedding or an event that you don't want to be public.
  • A private group for your start-up, company or organization. On nderground you never have to worry about privacy settings. nderground is always private.

We would love to hear from you. Please send us email at admin at nderground net


November 2017

nderground could not have been built without open source and commercial software and tools. These software includes:

Server Side Components

  • nderground is built using the Grails framework. The original version of nderground was developed using Grails 2.4.3. nderground was ported to Grails 3, which involved months of work.
  • The Grails Framework and its underpinnings, especially Spring and Hibernate.
  • A number of Grials plugins, including Ben Lucchesi's cookie session plugin which is used to support web scaling
  • The Grails 2.4 version of nderground was developed with the Groovy/Grails Tool Suite (GGTS), which was built on top of the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment. After Pivotal stopped supporting Grails, I moved to the commercial version of the IntelliJ IDE. The IntelliJ IDE was used to develop the port of nderground to Grails 3.
  • The Groovy Development Environment
  • The Java Development Environment
  • The PostgreSQL relational database
  • The imgscalr library, written by Riyad Kalla. Imagscalr is used to scale and correct the orientation of images that are uploaded nderground
  • jSoup, written by Jonathan Hedley
  • Open NLP from the Apache Software Foundation
  • The antisamy HTML sanitizer from OWASP. This code is used to avoid JavaScript injection in nderground posts.
  • The Linux operating system. nderground is developed on Fedora Linux and deployed on Amazon Web Services Linux.
  • The Apache Tomcat Java application container and web server. nderground runs on Tomcat, deployed on Amazon Web Service's Elastic Beanstack to provide scalable web performance.

We are very grateful to the open source community that has made this software available to the world.

Client Side Components

  • jQuery
  • Twitter Bootstrap
  • Kube CSS and JavaScript from Imperavi (open source)
  • The Redactor Editor from Imperavi (licensed software)

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

nderground is built to be a scalable, secure web application. The features provided by AWS have been invaluable. nderground runs on Elastic Beanstalk, which supports scaling as web load increases. The RDS/Postgres database is used to support ACID transactions. Everything else is in DynamoDB. Storage is in DynamoDB and S3. Email is handled by the AWS Simple Email System. And so on... nderground would have been vastly more difficult to build without AWS.

Other Software

  • The New Relic client is used to monitor nderground uptime, CPU and memory usage.
  • MailGun is used for the nderground test environment