There are many different interpretations on what mashups are and what they mean for the Web, for innovation,
and for creating value propositions for the user. In broad terms, a mashup is an application that
consumes data from different sources and combines them in a single user experience. As you will see
later, this can be in order to add value to the preexisting data or to take a more fun and creative slant.
In many ways, mashups offer a platform for innovation, where developers can demonstrate their talent
and creativity without having to reinvent the wheel by accessing data sources that otherwise
would not be available to them.
Although originally mashups was a term used to describe web applications that were built around one
or more data sources, we are seeing them move from the web to the desktop as widget platforms and
desktop technologies evolve. The concepts behind mashups, such as interacting with data sources, are
being worked into applications that are available to run locally on the desktop.
Mashups present a great opportunity for web developers to innovate and demonstrate their creativity,
with near limitless possibilities.
Data can be consumed from various sources, including the following:
Data feeds (such as RSS)
Mashups have been embraced by many Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, and Amazon,
which have all provided various methods for developers to leverage the functionality of their web
applications. Over the next few pages, you will see some of the most novel and innovative examples of
mashups that are available on the Web.
Many users are deserting desktop applications and moving toward web applications for common
functions such as e-mail and document creation.
In the past, this was somewhat limited because the experience that a web application can offer did not
compare to the speed and quality of interaction provided by a desktop application; however, with the
rise of client-side presentation technologies, Buzzword is a shining example of what is possible when
you combine a powerful technology with the social and collaborative nature of the Web.
Recently purchased by Adobe, Buzzword is a web-based word processor written entirely in Flex, with
full support for popular document formats and notable technical achievements such as an advanced
text and document layout engine (see Figure 1-1).
Although not strictly a mash-up, Buzzword embodies many of the emerging social attributes of the
Web, and at the same time sets the bar for client-side applications.
Figure 1-1. Editing a document in Buzzword