Mashups have arrived as the next web services battleground, with Microsoft Corp, Yahoo Inc, and America Online all this week announcing projects that will help high-level web developers create this new flavor of application.
Yahoo and AOL’s MapQuest separately released APIs they said would give developers more opportunities to build services such as maps, calendars and photo and bookmark sharing into their web-based applications.
AOL, as we reported Monday, is releasing an instant messaging toolkit for extending its AIM network, and Microsoft yesterday came out with a live clipboard, which promises to apply the Windows clipboard metaphor to web services.
Mashup is the name increasingly being given to web-based applications that leverage web services from third parties that have made their APIs available. They’re simpler to implement for soft-core developers, those with fewer coding skills.
Two trade shows in California yesterday — the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego and the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco — were used as showcases for this kind of technology.
Mashups will be one of the key new technologies to facilitate personalization of online content, according to Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel’s mobility group
Our belief is the next phase of the internet is about personalization. You can make the case we are in the beginning of liftoff, he said, during his IDF keynote, which opened with a demo of an application that combined Google Maps with a flight-path simulator.
Microsoft chief technical officer Ray Ozzie blogged it this way yesterday: Although arguably far less powerful than going the [web services] route, mashups demonstrate how quickly a ‘mesh’ can form when the process of wiring together components is made easy for the ‘scripting-level’ developers.
For example, today there are dozens of web applications that plot niche content topics onto satellite maps of the world, using Google Maps’ APIs. You can see where Sunday’s Oscar winners were born here. http://www.mibazaar.com/oscars/index.html
It is perhaps due to Google’s successes motivating the grassroots geek community that MapQuest Inc, a leader in the online maps space, yesterday announced the release of OpenAPI, an interface for mapping, geocoding and routing tools.
MapQuest said the API will be free for non-commercial use, and the company is offering a $1,000 prize in a coding competition, to foster grassroots adoption. Commercial implementers will have to take out a license.
Yahoo Inc, meanwhile, which also has a maps API, announced four new sets of APIs that will enable developers to add Yahoo services – calendars, bookmarks, shopping and photos – to their own sites, in what it called a platform play.
In these cases, it’s all about getting distribution for existing services, creating an ecosystem that increases stickiness and user loyalty, while very cheaply bringing value-added applications to the user base.
Clearly as the flexibility and potential of ‘mashing up’ and recombining application components gets closer to someone who understands the user’s needs, the value to that user increases, Microsoft’s Ozzie wrote.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is thinking high-concept. Ozzie yesterday revealed and demonstrated Live Clipboard, which he said was to web services what the PC clipboard was to the GUI operating system.
In its simplest form, the clipboard enabled the user to simply grasp the concept of moving a copy of the information from one application to another, Ozzie wrote. Simply stated, I’d like to extend the clipboard user model to the web.
He and his colleagues at Microsoft appear to have already done it, albeit in working prototype form. Demos are available, linked from his blog. http://spaces.msn.com/rayozzie/blog/PersonalSpace.aspx
For instance, the demo shows how shipping and billing data stored locally cut be copied from a local repository into a web page checkout, while retaining its field structure. Not a revolutionary feature, but interesting in terms of the model used.
Ozzie said that Microsoft, for one, would be implementing technology along those lines in future services from its Windows Live offering, which was launched in beta last fall.
For our part, a number of individuals from MSN and Windows Live will now be actively participating in the refinement of Live Clipboard toward ultimately implementing it on sites such as live.com, Ozzie wrote.