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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Opinion: WSO2 Mashup Server Takes First Steps

Mashups (composite applications) promise the ability to easily create
useful new applications from existing services and Web applications.
By combining data from multiple sources across the Web, and from
within the enterprise, mashups can help distill important information
for people who would otherwise need to gather and distill it manually.
Composite applications in 2008 are in the "early adopter" phase, with
companies exploring their uses and potential in the enterprise. There's
no lack of entrants in the field; a quick search turned up at least 20
different mashup platforms, both commercial and open source. Products
such as JackBe Presto, Nexaweb Enterprise Web 2.0 Suite and Kapow's
RoboSuite illustrate the range of approaches. WSO2's Mashup Server is
aimed at Web developers seeking a complete environment for building,
deploying and administering composite applications. It's clear that
the WSO2 Mashup Server design team gave some thought to what such
developers would need to create mashups, and for those with an
understanding of JavaScript, XML, and AJAX, this toolset makes developing
mashups simple... Parsing XML in JavaScript is usually a difficult and
tedious task, but the inclusion of Mozilla's E4X (ECMAScript for XML)
makes parsing XML simpler. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) would be
a good alternative communication mechanism, and hopefully future versions
will include the option of returning JSON objects as well. Hosted Objects
are objects hosted within the WSO2 Mashup Server that provide access to
remote data sources. These objects are written in Java, and provide
access to APP (Atom Publishing Protocol) resources, RSS feeds, e-mail,
and instant messaging services (although only for sending messages),
among others. One of the more useful if more complicated hosted objects
is the "scraper" object, which makes use of Web-Harvest to screen scrape
Web pages that do not provide Web services. From the enterprise standpoint,
significant omissions are the lack of JMS and SQL hosted objects.
Creating the client side of the mashup is straightforward. Using the
generated JavaScript stubs, you simply need to include them in the Web
page that's consuming the service... is a community of
mashup authors, where they can develop, share, discover, and run
Javascript-powered mashups. The site is powered by the WSO2 Mashup
Server, which is available as a free open source download.

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