February 04, 2008

Mashups and More from the IBM shelves

With an increased buzz around the Web 2.0 space and the concept of social networking catching up like wild fire, its been a very interesting period for web technologists and developers. With Google leading the bandwagon in the development of cutting-edge web technologies and tools, we've seen the hunger-struck Microsoft desperately trying to dowse the flames of Google's growth and in the market and the user mind share.

While all of this has been happening, off-late, I have been posed with one common question from people in my network and from customers (during informal chats). They have all wanted to know -
"What does IBM have in the Web 2.0 space?
This is indeed a very interesting question. Hence, in this post, I would like to point you to some of the work IBM has been doing in the space of Web 2.0.

The first tool that I'd like to talk about is the QEDWiki (v1.3 being the latest). QEDWiki is a browser-based assembly canvas used to create simple mashups. QEDWiki is a unique Wiki framework in that it provides both Web users and developers with a single Web application framework for hosting and developing a broad range of Web 2.0 applications. QEDWiki can be used for a wide variety of Web applications, including, but not limited to, the following:
  • Web content management for a typical collection of Wiki pages
  • traditional form processing for database-oriented CRUD (Create/Read/Update/Delete) applications
  • document-based collaboration
  • rich interactive applications that bind together disparate services
  • situational applications (or mashups).
QEDWiki also provides Web application developers with a flexible and extensible framework to enable do-it-yourself (DIY) rapid prototyping. Business users can quickly prototype and build ad hoc applications without depending on software engineers. QEDWiki provides mashup enablers (programmers) with a framework for building reusable, tag-based commands. These commands (or widgets) can then be used by business users who wish to create their own Web applications.

You need to Register yourself to be able to download QEDWiki. You can also get to see a Demo of QEDWiki in action.

The next Web 2.0 tool that I'd like to talk about is IBM DAMIA, which provides easy-to-use tools (though a web interface) that developers and IT users alike can use to quickly assemble data feeds from the Internet and a variety of enterprise data sources. The benefits of this service include the ability to aggregate and transform a wide variety of data or content feeds, which can be used in enterprise mashups.

DAMIA lets you do the following:

  • Import XML, Atom, and RSS feeds.
  • Assemble feeds from both the Internet and from Excel spreadsheets; database support is coming soon.
  • Import data from local files in XML format and Excel spreadsheets.
  • Aggregate and transform a wide variety of data or content feeds into new syndication services.

When building a complete Web application that provides a user interface, additional tools or technologies are required in order to display the data feed provided by DAMIA. Mashup makers, such as QEDWiki, and feed readers that consume Atom and RSS can be used as the presentation layer in the enterprise Web application.

The third tool is the IBM Mashup Hub, which connects Web 2.0 mashup creators and situational application assemblers with the data and user interface components they need for creating their solutions. Mashup Hub provides two broad areas of support: feed generation for enterprise data sources and a catalog of feeds and user interface (UI) widgets.

Mashup Hub enables the users to perform the following actions -
  • Define which data from an enterprise data source, such as a relational database, should be included in an Atom feed.
  • Register existing feeds so they can be shared.
  • Upload or download UI widgets, including those used by QEDWiki to make enterprise mashups.
  • Participate in community interactions with other Mashup Hub users. These interactions include social tagging, commenting, rating, and searching the content of the Mashup Hub catalog.

Feed sources supported by this release of Mashup Hub include relational databases, collections of XML documents in IBM DB2® pureXML™, Microsoft® Excel files, comma-separated value files, Microsoft Access exported queries, IBM Information Server federated data, and the contents of ordinary XML documents. A user can also register existing feeds in the Mashup Hub catalog.

The fourth and the last one I'd like to talk about, is the IBM Mashup Starter Kit.

IBM Mashup Starter Kit is a preview of a new Web 2.0-based mashup platform that empowers business professionals to rapidly get the information they need, no matter where it resides. This toolkit enables users to assemble their own Web 2.0 mashup applications, solving business problems without aid from information technology (IT) specialists.

IBM Mashup Starter Kit consists of two technologies: IBM Mashup Hub and QEDWiki. IBM Mashup Hub is a mashup server that stores information feeds (such as in RSS, ATOM, or XML formats) in order to enable reuse and collaboration. Mashup Hub can also merge, transform, filter, annotate, or publish information in new formats. From there, the newly-enhanced QEDWiki serves as the user interface and allows non-IT users to "mash" information from any data source in order to create a single view of disparate sets of information in minutes.

IBM Mashup Starter Kit can combine information from databases, departmental information, personal information, or the Web. It rapidly blends information and Web services, such as weather reports or maps, with enterprise content and services, such as IBM Information Server, IBM DB2® pureXML™, and IMS (Information Management System) transactions and databases; and it easily "mashes" them together to generate fast, flexible, and affordable applications for specific business needs.

This new approach to delivering Web 2.0 applications builds upon IBM’s Information on Demand strategy for helping organizations seize control of runaway data growth and rapidly respond to emerging opportunities by using information as a strategic business asset.

Just to end the note, IBM's Lotus suite of software has an offering called Lotus Connections, which is a social software for business that empowers you to be more innovative and helps you execute more quickly by using dynamic networks of coworkers, partners and customers. It helps with instant features like Profiles, Communities, Blogs, Dogear, Activities and more.


Further information about IBM's Web 2.0 initiatives is available at the following Web site: Web 2.0 Goes to Work: Drive innovation and growth with Web 2.0 technologies.

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