web mashup is a new type of web applications that uses data and services from one or more external sources (usually from the Internet) to build entirely new and different web applications. Wikipedia defines a mashup as a web application hybrid. While most prominent web mashups use publicly available APIs like Google Maps, Amazon ECS, and more, this is not the only way to do mashups. Significant innovations can be achieved with further aggregation and hybridization of code and data from publicly available APIs, with private data as well as private applications.

The idea behind web mashups is creativity and innovation in new data and services, not just aggregation of existing ones, which most of the older technologies focus on. Wikipedia provides further comparison of portals, mashups and portals that are all content aggregations technology, web mashups differ because portals aggregate and display content and applications in discrete packages, whereas mashups integrate the data and services together and serve them out as a single application.  Mashupshub site explained further that the different seems to be organization, with portal more centrally designed, and each portlet with some specific intention of being aggregated into one or more portal screens.  An example of this is that while a portal will happily display a map of your current location, your address book, and today’s astrology readings in 3 different portlet windows, a mashup will display the astrology readings of 10 of your friends who are closest to you, in an online map occupying the whole browser space.

WikiHow and the book I read pretty much explain how to create mashups. You have to have subject, know where the data is coming from, and how much coding you know.  Mashups do not require you to be very knowledgeable in technical programming, however, it will help to have a basic familiarity with common web development languages and techniques like HTML/XHTML, CSS and JavaScript. Better than that, there are mashup editors online and some of them are free which allows you to create and edit mashups. Like Yahoo pipes, Google mashup editor, IBM Mashup Center, JackBe, JDA Composer, Microsoft Popfly, Mozila Ubiquity, and more. In Yahoo Pipes you could create different applications, combine many feeds into one, geocide your favorite feed and browse the items on an interactive map, grab the output of any pipes as RSS, or other format. Or probably you could take data from Flickr, the photo storage and sharing and mash it up with Google maps, the online mapping application to display photos that come from a  particular geographical area. I never did though, however, I believe this is could be done. Alex Iskold in the Read Write Web blog wrote that “Yahoo! Pipes is a remarkable offering.  It is the first GUI builder for the biggest database in the world, the Web itself.”

That sounds exciting, now I get to think, if this will affect me as I hope to be an interactive designer?  The open source software is for me as a designer, is my creation that just allows and program to be used with the software to mix and match but still the software is mine. For example, with Firefox as open source software, others create widgets which still are not completely owned by Firefox, however, Firefox still owns the original program.  It may mean less money, however, it will be rewarding in another way. Like you could have name recognition, not to mention learning from others; and, perhaps more traffic. With this could lead to the marketing aspect, where more traffic, invitations for other jobs, and, more money in terms of the advertising  and fame.  The bottom line that as an interaction designer, we need to learn that the fact of what is yours is not necessarily yours, parts of it belong to the community, and you get to enjoy the fame. I believe money will come in other ways.  The fact that you do what makes you happy, while in the process getting the opportunity to earn money and fame makes the effort worth while. Mashups, by Brett O’Connor, Wrox Press@2007

Ruby on Rails Web Mashups Projects: A Step by step Tutorial to Build Web Mashups, by Chang Sau Sheong, Packt Publishing@2008



2 Responses to “Mashups”

  1. Hi There,

    If you like Yahoo Pipes, you will find the IBM Mashup Center’s MashupHub interesting as it manages to handle both the internet database and the enterprise data sources and personal datasources in a GUI builder. To try it for free check out

    I hope this helps you in your future endeavours.

  2. One analyst described JackBe as ‘Yahoo Pipes on enterprise steroids’. JackBe’s Enterprise Mashup Platform has both browser-based and Eclipse-based mashup composers, a unique Mashup Markup Language, APIs for C#/.NET/Java/PHP, and plugins for enterprise technologies like portals, spreadsheets, and LDAP/Active Directory.

    You can get the Developer Edition for free at http://www/ Thank you for including JackBe in your post!

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