They’re all the rage in the Web 2.0 crowd: mashup services that typically combine maps with all sorts of data from a variety of Web sources. In the past year, we’ve seen a host of much-discussed sites pop up, from Zillow.com for real-estate value estimation, to AuctionMapper, which presents eBay search results on maps to help locate the nearest sellers.
This sort of lightweight integration has plenty of precedent, from the time-honored stock ticker, to e-commerce sites that combine UPS or FedEx tracking data with an order history to present a single view of order status. Inside the enterprise, portal server vendors, including IBM and Plumtree, have long offered users graphical tools to integrate data sources “at the glass,” resulting in simple, personalized Web apps.
“What’s different now is the availability and the ease-of-use,” says Giovanni Gallucci, president and COO of Kinetic Results, which specializes in search engine optimization and Web analytics. “That’s because a lot of the APIs are built on common standards.”
Click for larger view.
Everything old is new again
For years, Web apps have dominated in-house enterprise development efforts, so integrating multiple data sources into interactive Web pages behind the firewall is nothing new. But runaway adoption of AJAX (Asynchronous Java
Script and XML) is changing the game. “What sets off the lightbulb [in developer’s minds] is that you have this ubiquitous platform where you can integrate components without custom applications,” says Ross Dargahi, co-founder and vice president of engineering at Zimbra, a developer of AJAX-based
e-mail and collaboration tools.
Moreover, as more enterprise and service providers adopt Web technologies, a broader swath of data is available in XML form. “In the past, half the work was how to make these things work together. With XML and so on, that’s old hat,” Gallucci says.