If you haven’t already heard, Mashup was one of the buzzwords of 2007. So, what is a mashup anyway, and even further how does your average blogger create one?
According to Wikipedia a mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool.
Probably one of the simplest ways to create a mashup is to use Yahoo pipes. Yahoo pipes can pull data from RSS, XML, CSV, JSON, and probably a few more that I am not gonna research. So how does this benefit you? Well, I will give you a real world example that I use Yahoo pipes for. I watch alot of IPTV shows through a nice little application for Windows Media Center called TVTonic. TVTonic pulls in video content from supplied RSS feeds. There are alot of preset channels that you can pick and choose from, but you can also add your own channels/feeds, which is what I love about TVTonic. I set up a custom feed using yahoo pipes that combines the feeds from 4-5 different shows that I watch. Yahoo pipes then gave me a new feed url that I supply to TVTonic, and voila, I have a new custom channel.
You could also use Yahoo pipes to filter through a bunch of torrent RSS feeds for the shows/movies that you want to download and then setup your torrent program with that custom feed so that it completely automates your downloads.
Dapper is also a very cool web utility that allows you to create mashups. You basically enter in a url, or multiple urls, and select the content you want dapper to aggregate for you. Dapper will then spit that out for you in a about a dozen different formats. Dapper will also let you create your own facebook app from the content that it aggregated, which is very cool. You can even create an embeddable flash based widget that displays the data. You can embed that on any site. Last but not least, Dapper will also create a web app from your data and host it for others to use.
Another mashup tool I have been using recently is Openkapow. Openkapow is not web based. You have to download their Robot Creator software and create your robot. You then upload that robot to openkapow’s servers and it runs from there. Openkapow is a very powerful piece of software and there is a little bit of a learning curve that comes with it, but once you get the hang of it you can really create some awesome mashups. Openkapow is a free service provided by Kapowtech, which sells the Kapow suite. The one downside to openkapow is that your robots are open to the world, so anyone can see and use the robot and the data that it grabs. I am also very leary to try and use openkapow to provide data for anything critical related to my websites. Their servers just seem very sluggish, and this is sitewide.
I couldn’t write about mashups and not mention IMacros. You have probably heard about the Imacros plugin for Firefox, and you may have even used it. Imacros will record actions that you do in a browser and save those to a file so you can replay them at any time. Imacros also sells a commercial version called the Scripting Edition that will allow you to extract data from sites and then do a whole bunch of cool stuff with it.
I think I am going to spend the $400 and get the scripting edition. I could use it for so many things that I want to create.
These are just four examples that I have experience with, and I am sure there are more out there. It’s worth noting that you can do some cool things by using these mashups together, but that’s for another post.
Have you created any mashups with these applications?