The world's most popular open source database
Lenz Grimmer is a member of the community relations team at MySQL AB. He lives in Hamburg, Germany and has worked for MySQL since April, 2002. Before joining the community team in December 2005, he was a member of the release engineering team that is in charge of creating the official release builds of the MySQL server.
Stephan Uhrenbacher is the Managing Director of Qype GmbH, the company behind the Qype.com web site, which allows users to recommend places in Germany and has developed into one of Germany’s most interesting web 2.0 applications.
Q: Please introduce yourself – what is your role at Qype? Could you provide a bit of personal background information about yourself for our readers?
I am the founder of Qype. My background in web business goes back to 1996 when I started GEO.de. Later I founded travelchannel.de, one of the larger travel web sites in Germany, then worked for lastminute.com in London as Head of Northern European Operations. After that I became responsible for the website of for Bild.t-online in Germany. In 2003, I was COO for Docmorris, Europes largest mail order pharmacy.
Q: Tell us a bit more about Qype GmbH, the company behind your product. When and why was it founded, how many employees does it have?
We started Qype in fall of 2005, when we thought we had the original idea to create a networked site where every one can say which services are good in town. From Kindergarten to car repair shops. It has evolved into a kind of user driven city magazine which now covers 1200 cities in Germany.
Q: What is Qype all about? What makes it special and differentiates it from other sites?
In contrary to product review sites like shopping.com, the interesting thing in Qype is not so much about a review on its own, but the context of the person telling you what he or she likes or does not like around him. This makes Qype so much more interesting.
Q: You consider Qype to be a “Web 2.0” site. What is your definition for “Web 2.0”?
As you know, there are tons of definitions. APIs, Technology, etc. In essence: People become the heroes, not the content. People define what is known about them, not publishers.
Q: How important is the social networking factor between people for Qype? In your FAQ you write that the best hints for good places usually come from friends and people you trust. How can this be applied to a site like Qype, where I would have to rely on the suggestions of total strangers?
Regarding trust: I trust a review, because other things this person has described are accurate. But the most interesting content for me indeed comes usually from people I already know. At the moment we do not do much to encourage this, but people who invite their friends to join Qype, typically discover that they together share a wealth of information which is most valuable for themselves.
Q: What technology is your site based on? What are the key OSS components?
Our site is mainly based upon the development framework Ruby on Rails and its well supported components: a MySQL database and Apache web server with fastCGI. Furthermore, we make use of the Tomcat servlet engine.
Q: Can you explain your usage of MySQL in more detail? What structure do you use, what technologies for load sharing and backup do you employ?
Actually we use MySQL as a standard SQL database without any extras provided by MySQL itself. But, for performance reasons we are planning to take a closer look on the functions and tools provided around and by MySQL. Our backup solution is simply based on file backup.
Q: Do you make use of any MySQL 5.0 features like Stored Procedures, VIEWS, Triggers?
Not yet :-)
Q: How does MySQL match your needs? Anything you particularly like/dislike? Anything we could improve on?
MySQL suits our needs perfectly. Though, performance on full-text search could be better, and allowing foreign-key constraints on MyISAM tables would be great. Or any other solution for tables with full-text searches and constraints to and from other tables.
Q: Do you plan to use any new MySQL features (e.g. MySQL Cluster) in the near future?
MySQL clusters are a big deal, and will be a major part of our future plannings, especially for scalability reasons.
Q: Does Qype provide any kind of external APIs to allow mashups of the Qype data with other sites?
We have a lot of ideas and plans for these sort of things. One thing we already have are microformats for our places and reviews.
Q: What are your future plans for Qype? What features are you currently working on and what is the most requested feature by your users? In other words, when will you consider removing the “Beta” label from your site?
Currently, there are 60 features on our whiteboard. People demand lists to collect their reviews in a different way. And a better way for companies to write “correct” descriptions about themselves. People also want to write reviews about places in any country, something we knew but something that slipped through development.
Stephan, thank you very much taking time to answer these questions! We hope that MySQL continues to serve your requirements.
This interview was performed via email in August 2006.