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While application developers tend to roll their eyes at the concept of end-user mashups , they remain one of the more promising new trends in software development this year. And while it's certainly true it's early days yet for mashups, the tools that enable them remaining rather limited, seems to be changing as I regularly come across compelling new mashup platforms as well as upgrades to existing ones that show what will be possible soon. And for now, as evidenced recently in the McKinsey Web 2.0 in business survey where 21% of organizations globally said they are using or planning to use mashups, there appears to be considerable demand for mashups at the enterprise level even though the majority of existing offerings are primarily aimed at the consumer space.
All you need is a quick visit to John Musser's most excellent programmableweb.com or to one of the upcoming Mashup Camps (the next one is coming up in Silicon Valley in July, register here ) to know that mashups are the hottest software development category going right now. Mashups, normally a kind of browser-based software that draws on multiple disparate Internet sources to arrive at some unique user experience, span the gamut from finding cheap gas (the data is superimposed on Google Maps) to discovering what local muscians are playing in your area and then sampling their music through downloadable MP3s (before wasting your money heading over the bar). See podbop.org for what I'm talking about (podbop won the first place prize in the Best Mashup Contest at the first Mashup Camp in February 2006).
Today's Web has terabytes of information available to humans, but hidden from computers. It is a paradox that information is stuck inside HTML pages, formatted in esoteric ways that are difficult for machines to process. The so called Web 3.0, which is likely to be a pre-cursor of the real semantic web, is going to change this. What we mean by 'Web 3.0' is that major web sites are going to be transformed into web services - and will effectively expose their information to the world. The transformation will happen in one of two ways. Some web sites will follow the example of Amazon, del.icio.us and Flickr and will offer their information via a REST API.
Source-code examples of APIs enable developers to quickly gain a gestalt understanding of a library's functionality, and they support organically creating applications by incrementally modifying a functional starting point.
Web 2.0 Data mashups are to SOA what NASCAR is to automobile production -- a much faster, more free-flowing, results-oriented way of combining complementary components into new applications that have an advantage over traditional months-long application development or production cycles. And they seem to be rivaling NASCAR in popularity as large, medium and small software companies are all offering mashups.
Egham, UK, August 9, 2006 View All Press Releases Web 2.0 technologies and business models dominate emerging technologies together with Real World Web and Applications Architecture Gartner, Inc., today announced its 2006 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle which assesses the maturity, impact and adoption speed of 36 key technologies and trends during the next ten years. This year’s hype cycle highlights three major themes that are experiencing significant activity and which include new or heavily hyped technologies, where organisations may be uncertain as to which will have most impact on their business. The three key technology themes identified by Gartner, and the corresponding technologies for enterprises to examine closely within them, are:
With APIs increasingly serving as a mechanism to enhance Web applications, Mashery has developed an on-demand service that provides management infrastructure and community building tools for API developers. Mashery's beta service, launching this week, includes API access control, rate limiting, usage tracking and metrics, interactive documentation, developer key assurance and community development tools, such as blogs, documentation, forums, wikis and about pages. According to Oren Michels, CEO of Mashery, most developers publishing APIs are not focused on creating infrastructure around their exposed Web services. Mashery isn't going to replace what the Web giants, such as Yahoo, EBay, Google and Amazon, have in place, but there are thousands of developers with APIs who don't want to build the infrastructure and tools required to deliver services and build developer communities.
Long famous for allowing employees to spend 20% of their time on experimental work, Google is experimenting in public with a number of projects that give a nod to the mashup ethic. It was a very busy summer for Google; from their Google Apps for Your Domain launch to the partnership with Intuit to the acquisition of biometric company Neven Vision. It doesn’t look like things are slowing down going into the Fall. Here’s an overview of some of the most recent offerings in the spirit of the mashup that the company has made available.
Yahoo has released a new product called BBAuth just in time for its open HackDay today and tomorrow. It’s a mechanism for non-Yahoo applications to access Yahoo’s authentication mechanism and user data in a secure manner. Most mashups today do not access personal data because of the security issues (not to mention the fact that companies usually think of user data as proprietary). The classic mashup example is mixing Google or Yahoo maps with other data. But there are far fewer examples of mashups involving user data protected from the rest of the Internet via a sign-in procedure. BBAuth fixes that problem when it comes to accessing data locked up at Yahoo.
There is a frequently recurring piece of software development lore that plays on the fact that good programmers are supposed to be lazy . In these stories, a good programmer will take a frequently recurring, monotonous task (like testing) and instead of doing it by hand, will instead write a piece of code once that will do the task for them, thereby automating it for future use. Put another way, instead of carrying out the work by hand, a lazy programmer will spend 95% of the time allotted to the work by developing code that will carry it out for them, and the last 5% of the time will be spent running it to get the actual work done.
A new service called Blotter from startup Dapper (dappit.com) is getting some good coverage around the blogosphere today. Blotter graphs Technorati data for any blog over time. Most exciting to me though is Dapper’s basic service, just launched this week. The company says it’s effectively offering an easy way to create an API from any website. This might look like crass screen scraping on the surface, but the company aims to offer some legitimate, valuable services and set up a means to respect copyright.
A pair of excellently written and well-reasoned new posts over the last couple of days have focused on a key issue when weaving pre-existing services together into useful new business applications. The result of doing this is often called a composite application in the "enterprisey" world of service-oriented architecture (SOA). And it's called a mashup in the primarily consumer world of Web 2.0. Regardless of name however, both composite apps and mashups are intended to reduce the overall effort of development, improve functionality, promote data consistency, and increase the net output of useful software. What's not to like about this?
The recent round of discussion of enterprise mashups has been a good one, led primarily by a stellar write-up recently by Galen Gruman, and highlights a phenomenon that is nigh upon us. As part of tracking this, I've been spending the better part of the last couple of months searching high and low for good quality tools that let anyone build enterprise-quality mashups, and I can safely report here that there are only a few. But why are enterprise mashups important? I've had discussions with a number of enterprise architects currently working in the industry about this and I do see a common theme in many of the IT requests they get these days.
ZDNet blog colleague Joe McKendrick beat me to the punch earlier this week with an excellent analysis of the fascinating ramifications of IBM's recent statements at the New York PHP Conference aimed at mainstreaming mashups and Web 2.0 technologies. If IBM is getting seriously involved in this, there must be something to it, and certainly Rod Smith's comments are receiving considerable attention . Interestingly, most enterprises I talk to these days barely have mashups on their radar, yet I also continually hear from those same folks about how hard it is to create increasingly integrated business applications, as well as the slow pace of rolling out new functionality to users and customers. There indeed seems to be a rising corporate appetite for faster, more effective ways of building applications particularly when reusing existing IT software and information assets.
The list of APIs is growing. We’ve had not one, but two camps devoted to mashups and a number of great mash pits . Ning , the web app playground, seems to be evolving all the time. So, what does this mean for the talent you need to pull together to make a mashup? My working thesis is that as application development evolves toward interchangeable (plug and play) code and data source elements, the difference in useful, winning apps will be in those teams that can best understand & respond to unique user needs. (Yes, I know that coding magic is always going to be needed, useful, etc., and I’m not trying to underplay engineering chops.