Prepare to mashup

Links updated 12.12.11

The majority of this article has been ‘mashed-up’ courtesy of four IET articles that appeared in issue 5, 24th March edition.

Mashup is a relatively new concept that originated within the computer industry in the early 2000’s. ‘Raj Krishnamurthy (Chief Architect at JackBe Corporation) and Deepak Alur (VP Engineering at JackBe Corporation) started working on Enterprise Mashup Markup Language (EMML) in 2006. Their objective was to enable user-oriented and user-enabled mashups by creating what was then a new type of middleware called an Enterprise Mashup Platform. Raj Krishnamurthy became the chief language designer and implementer of EMML and also led the team to create an Eclipse-based EMML IDE called Mashup Studio.[7] This work evolved into the EMML reference implementation that was donated to the Open Mashup Alliance. Raj Krishnamurthy continues to be one of the key contributors to EMML through the Open Mashup Alliance’ – (Wikipedia –Enterprise Mashup Markup Language – EMML).

‘Mashups were first used in the early 2000s to describe music tracks created by blending parts of songs from different genres – for example, taking the vocals from a rock song and laying them over a hip-hop beat’ – (IET – A sophisticated mess?). ‘Mash-up platforms comprise three elements: software components that help users source and display different types of data, like portlets, widgets or gadgets; tools that allow developers to create mash-ups for others to use; and an underlying software infrastructure to manage, secure and maintain the new data combinations’. ‘Mash-ups were harnessed by inventive Internet consumers and explorative Web developers who monkeyed around with the technology on a largely experimental basis; but businesses soon caught on to the potential of mash-ups’ practicality and ease-of-use. This led software vendors to design mash-up creation tools.’

‘Indicators agree that the potential for market growth is there, in part inspired by the ‘open ethos’ re-use/re-service approach promulgated by service-oriented architecture (SOA) technology. Research company Forrester reckons that sales of this type of software were worth a modest £106m in 2008; the figure is forecast to reach £1.14bn by 2013.’ (IET – Mashup tools: enterprise enablers for the mashed age.)

”Mash-up’ has become more commonly associated with the merging of software, in particular websites or applications built using content from more than one source to create a new service. Typical examples include Nightfeed (www.nightfeed.com), which combines social networking sites such as Facebook with Google maps to help you find the most popular nightlife in your area; Twittervision (www.twittervision.com), which displays Twitter posts on a global map in real time; and SoupSoup (www.soup-soup.net), a news mash-up that complements stories from the BBC, CNN and other sources with articles from Wikipedia and pictures from Flickr. Since you don’t need a degree in computer science to build a mash-up and the tools to do so are readily available, there are already thousands of such applications on the Web, covering everything from shopping to real estate.’ (see IET – A sophisticated mess?‘).

‘Web mash-ups hardly represent a technological revolution, but they are likely to play a big role in shaping the future of the Web. Today’s Web is all about participation and the collective experience – applications that can be easily adapted to allow users to manipulate data will be key to how it evolves. Take the Google Mobile Application for the iPhone, which uses speech recognition technology to allow you to search the Web. Suddenly you’re interacting with the Internet by talking to it, which makes a keyboard interface seem a little old-fashioned.’

”The smartphone revolution has moved the Web from our desks to our pockets,’ says Tim O’Reilly, software guru and founder of the computer book publisher O’Reilly Media. ‘Our phones and cameras are being turned into eyes and ears for applications.’

‘The trickiest transition for any new generation of computer application is that from nascency to immaturity. For mash-up developers the potential for significant market take-up seems evident – mash-up plus-points carry much force in the context of business IT – yet even as the factors for success fall into place, the ‘tipping point’ still seems a way off. The mash-up proposition holds attractions for enterprise IT, especially the potential to enable task-specific browser-based applications (relatively) quickly and cheaply, that energise existing corporate information by combining it with external data sources and other resources online.’

The mash-ups model is also claimed to be adept at integrating data already ‘siloed’ inside an organisation, and enterprise IT strategists will like the fact that mash-ups applications are scalable. But these qualities are for nothing if no standards exist to validate them.’

‘‘Mash-ups are not, of course, completely dissociated from industry standards. They work on standard browsers and are based on open-source software elements; this may or may not be a good thing, depending on an organisation’s stance toward open-source. Some IT leaders recognise the benefits of open-source and embrace it; others think that the compatibility problems it can cause make it more trouble than it’s worth.’

‘The mash-up ethos is strongly predicated on ‘openness’, both in respect to code accessibility and toward data ownership, but even very open-minded open-sourcers may want to see standards-driven controls. The focus here centres around user demand driving better standards and this encouraging adoption.’

‘According to mash-up standards doyen Dion Hinchcliffe, founder of Enterprise 2.0 firm Hinchcliffe & Co, demand-driven interest is pressuring the standards process. ‘As business conditions increase the internal demand to leverage untapped corporate knowledge, mash-ups offer a model that aligns to the needs of the business by connecting workers to resources they need,’ he says. ‘[They] allow for the easy creation of inexpensive, ‘situational’ applications that can now fall inside resource, budget and time [targets] that were difficult to meet with older generation techniques.’ (IET – Mashup standards: crucial to enterprise acceptance)

‘Market watcher Gartner has categorised the benefits of emerging mash-up tools to corporate buyers into five elements: application flexibility; faster application delivery; development productivity; end-user empowerment; application innovation. That flexibility is perhaps best shown when a single mash-up interface is used to replace multiple different applications which would otherwise have to be used simultaneously to display the same data.’

‘Pharmaceutical company Pfizer, for instance, uses an Intranet-based business intelligence (BI) mash-up to deliver ad hoc query, forecasting, planning, and modelling to its product research executives making investment decisions.’

‘The mash-up is based on Composite Software’s Information Server platform, which takes information from factory, project and portfolio management, inventory and supply chain databases, and uses a combination of other tools, including BusinessObjects WEBi reports, Spotfire DecisionSite analystics, SharePoint Designer and ASP net pages for presentation.’

‘Mash-ups also allow Pfizer to develop new software tools which help Pfizer’s researchers share information more quickly, and let end-users configure their own mash-ups and test them out before they go into production.’ – (IET – Making mash-ups)

As governments’ release their data sets, it will become increasingly easier to create mashups from government data. ‘These include Openly Local (Replaces planningalerts.com), a free service that emails you if someone has put in a planning application to build near your house (although to be fair it launched before the government’s move). FillThatHole lets people report potholes and other road hazards across the UK, using location data from the Office for National Statistics.’ – (Techcrunch)

For more, please also read – IET – Managing mash-ups and The 10 Best Mashups on the Web

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About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

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