The glory of mashup technology is that it’s inherently
simple. By connecting feeds from multiple sources—say, Google maps and Craigslist rental listings—a developer
can quickly create a site that shows exactly where an available apartment is located.
Or by combining data streams from eBay and Google maps, you
can find all autos for sale on eBay near you.
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The benefits of these easy-to-create services aren’t
peculiar only to consumers—and many enterprises are aware
of the need to combine and share data without a huge IT
investment. So, today, at the IBM Impact conference in Las
Vegas, IBM launched new tools to help non-technical users to
create, deploy and share customized Web applications in
There are two pieces: the IBM Mashup Center, which the
company says will go into beta on April 15, and the IBM
WebSphere sMash, a development environment which incorporates
dynamic scripting languages (downloadable today at www.projectzero.org). Both, say IBM
representatives, include the management, security and
governance capabilities that IT departments require.
Don’t take that description as an implication that your next
mission-critical application ought to be built with mashups.
However, says Larry Bowden, Lotus vice president of portals and
integration services, there are twenty times as many people
able to create mashups using these lightweight, browser-based
components than there are developers to create critical
departmental applications. The IBM Mashup Center, Bowden says,
lets departments create self-managed tools by assembling and
creating what they want—but still with IT support.
The browser-based tool includes a set of pre-built business
widgets, a widget builder, and a catalog to store and share
widgets and mashups. A company can use publicly available
widgets or create its own, each with community features like
ratings, tagging and user comments. Data can come from all
sorts of enterprise sources, from Office documents to
Information Management System (IMS) databases, and is stored in
RSS, ATOM or XML formats.
IBM has also submitted a standard called iWidget to support
interchange between Widget projects, said Jason McGee,
distinguished engineer and chief architect of WebSphere
sMash.(For more on sMash, see IBM Creates Code to Secure Mashups For
IBM WebSphere sMash is a development environment that
creates output from Domino Designer in the form of a standard
widget. It’s focused on leveraging dynamic scripting languages,
especially Groovy and PHP, using the open-source Dojo toolkit,
employing RESTful approaches—and, unsurprisingly, with
the promise to extend the reach of SOA. The environment
includes a framework and programming model to easily create
data feeds for mashups, according to IBM.
For more about the plusses-and-minus of dynamic scripting
languages, see You Used THAT Programming
Language to Write What?!
A community edition of WebSphere sMash can be downloaded for
free at Project Zero; the commercial platform, says IBM, will be available in the second
quarter on a per license basis from IBM and its partners.
With about 200 competitors in the market for Web 2.0 and
mashup development, IBM executives acknowledge, some IT
professionals may wonder where IBM fits. Most of the existing
companies are focused on building specific components, said
Bowden, without attention to integration. Plus, added Kareem
Yusef, director of product development for sMash, IBM can offer
enterprises “innovation in a safe haven.”