Recently, the IBM jStart Emerging technologies team created a mashup application which highlights how services from StrikeIron can be easily added to web-based applications.
This IBM Mashup Center mashup application enables a call center representative to capture a sales lead from an incoming call, enrich the information provided by the call with data obtained from a series of StrikeIron web services, then communicate information about the lead to a sales rep or business partner that is located close to the call using StrikeIron's SMS or IVR voice web services.
Even though your company might already have an existing call center application, how difficult or expensive would it be to modify that application to add additional content? By having an application built within IBM Mashup Center or by having services available in widget format, it is a fairly simple process to add widgets to a Mashup Center application or to an existing web page. For example, I can add the StrikeIron service widgets which provide Gale Web Domain or Midnight Trader Financial news to an existing web based application. These widgets would provide an application user with additional insight into a particular customer's company.
The mashup application implements the following scenario: 1. The call center rep enters some information captured from the user (his/her name, his/her company, his/her company's stock ticker symbol and main web site URL and clicks the "Submit" button.
2. Other widgets located within tabs on the page are invoked to gather additional information about the caller's company. Below is a screen shot of Gale Web Domain and Midnight Trader Financial News widgets. These financial information services are available from StrikeIron's web services catalog.
3. The location of the caller's company and the call center firm's sales reps and business partners who are located in the state are shown on a map. The user clicks one of the sales rep or business partner map icons to get more detailed information about the sales rep or the business partner. At this point, all the information is now available in order for the call center rep needs to make a decision such as "assigning" the sales lead to a business partner or one of the firm's reps by sending them an SMS message or by sending them a voice message using the StrikeIron IVR web service.
Here's a video which shows the entire demo in action:
If you want to know more about how to utilize the StrikeIron widgets that have been built for IBM Mashup Center, please contact the IBM jStart team.
John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development Manager
This trial technology preview allows users to easily create views of feeds they create without writing code. Users can customize widgets
such as changing colors, size, feeds, and data feeds. The widgets created using this tool can then be posted on a variety of platforms such as on the Mashup Center palette, OpenAjax runtime, blog pages, or web pages by simply using the "Get This" button which is by default at the bottom of each created widget.
Here's a few screen shots of the Widget Generation Plug-in so you can get an idea of what is offered with this technology preview.
The first screen shot shows that there are a wide variety of widget types to choose from (Feed reader widget, Photos widget. Java applet widget, etc.) It is possible for you to add your own widget template to this list that your Business Users can use as well.
Once you have selected a widget type for a particular data feed that you want to visualize, you can easily customize the widget by changing colors, titles, widget size, and data feeds. These changes require no programming ability at all. A business user can easily create a widget that he/she could then propagate to multiple web pages.
The OAA Hub 2.0 software prevents attacks by isolating untrusted widgets from the main application and other widgets and by preventing access to user credentials. IBM plans to implement OAA Hub 2.0 within the upcoming IBM Mashup Center 2.0 product release. With this OAA technology, a widget won't be able to "steal" information from another widget on a web page. This standard provides another step toward interoperability among various mashup platform providers and promotes the growing mashup ecosystem while continuing to protect sensitive information.
John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development Manager
IBM jStart Webinar-- Mashup Patterns for Your Business using IBM Mashup Center If you missed the webinar that was held on April 30, 2009, a replay is available on the IBM jStart webcast web site. A copy of the charts are available on the Lotus Greenhouse web site.
During this webinar, Mashup thought leaders Mike Ogrinz, author of Mashup Patterns,and John Gerken, a Senior Architect for the IBM jStart Emerging Technologies team, discussed:
Why mashups have become popular solutions for solving every-day business problems and have evolved into patterns.
How mashup patterns allow you to quickly discover and build upon mashup solutions that others with similar business goals have already demonstrated.
Understand how your business can implement mashup patterns to maximize the value of mashups for your business needs/challenges.
How mashup patterns highlighted in Mike’s book can be implemented with IBM’s Mashup Center.
Mike and John demonstrated real mashup solutions and the associated patterns that reinforce them to help new users understand these concepts and experienced users to gain additional insights.
John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies DevelopmentManager
Recently, there have been several positive articles reviewing IBM Mashup Center 1.1. For example, Nelson King wrote in his article, "Put to the Test: IBM Mashup Center 1.1", that "it's not hard to argue that this [IBM Mashup Center 1.1] isthe most comprehensive and, in many ways, most effective mashupenvironment for the enterprise".
So how do you get a free trial copy of Mashup Center 1.1 to try it out yourself? IBM recently created a trial download on the IBM Mashup Center web site that you can evaluate for 60-days. Make sure you first review the Mashup Center system requirements.
If you rather not download and install Mashup Center on your own system, you always have the option of trying Mashup Center 1.1 on the Lotus Greenhouse web site. Once you log in to Greenhouse, simply select the Lotus Mashups application.
I would suggest all users start by going to the Mashup Center wiki where there is a copy of product documentation along with tutorials and videos.
John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development Manager
Vijay Dheap pointed me to a couple of interesting BusinessWeek articles: Can Widgets Save the Television Industry? and IBM Roars into Business Consulting. The first article describes the increasing importance of web widgets, which can migrate content and media from a source website to other web pages, blogs, or onto the handheld screens of the users' mobile devices. The second article, about the increasing importance of business analytics and data mining plays into this trend, because now the big looming questions become: who is watching the content, and from where.
Jim Hsu IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development
Over the past year, there's been a large growth of widgets being made available from a variety of companies and organizations. In a way, widgets are now considered mainstream. My wife knows I've been working in the area of web 2.0 and web widgets for awhile, but she's not really into technology. But yesterday, she forwarded me an article about how non-profits/charitable organizations are now getting on the widget bandwagon. So even she's now seeing things about web widgets (gadgets) in regular publications that she reads. The article talked about how the Ad Council, the leading producer of public service advertisements, has kicked off the Exponential Action Network (EAN) initiative where users will bepresented with a list of participating Ad Council causes and beprompted to choose as many as they would like to support. Eachselection will generate an individual widget that can be prominentlydisplayed on the user’s social networking profile, blog, wiki andpersonal homepages.
For example, the Autism Speaks organization has been promoting the Autism Awareness Widget so users will have an opportunity to become further engaged in Autism Speaks' advocacy efforts. So if you have a charity or organization that you'd like to promote, you might want to consider building and sharing widgets to make your message available to more people.
John Feller IBMjStart Emerging Technologies Development Manager
There's been some recent articles about how to create mashups that I've have found interesting. For instance, David Storm wrote an article about the seven steps toward creating your first enterprise mashup. Of the steps he listed, Step #2 "Pick your data sources", I feel is the most important. Actually, it's really a matter of finding and determining whether you can actually access various data sources in the format you need them in. Within an enterprise, data is stored in a variety of locations and in different formats. A lot of data is not even accessible by other users. In many cases, data is not even under the control of a corporate IT shop. For example, some mission critical data resides on individual's computer hard drives. Think of all the spreadsheets that are being used. When people need to share this data, they usually just send them to each other via email. In this case, people have to figure out who has the most recent copy and then the email them around and the cycle continues over and over again.
IBM's Mashup Center , a product which has been recently announced, addresses some of these concerns. The InfoSphere MashupHub component of this product provides a catalog as well as a way to retrieve data from departmental, personal, and enterprise information. For example, data can be uploaded from a spreadsheet and then be transformed into a feed that can be used within a Mashup Application. This data can be easily found by searching the catalog and by subscribing to the feed, business users can retrieve the most recent data. Social networking and community ratings help users find "quality" data sources rather because other people can provide comments and point to other mashup examples that use the data sources. The enterprise IT shop can also regulate who gets control of the data feed and start to provide a culture that people don't always store mission critical data on their personal hard drive. Data from various sources such as DB2, IMS, LDAP, pureXML, SAP, Web Services, Excel, RSS feeds, Access, and Domino can be retrieved, manipulated into various formats the users needs, and then cataloged for other people to use and share.
You'll be hearing more about the IBM Mashup Center with a series of future articles on the IBM developerWorks site. Stay tuned...
Scott Adams is a clever marketer when it comes to promoting himself and the Dilbert brand.
I noticed he had partnered with a company called SkyScrapes to sell Dilbert merchandise after he challenged his blog readers to take pictures under the product. He would select winners and post those pictures to his blog.
He also shamelessly promoted (the best kind of marketing!) his last book on his blog. The book happened to be a collection of his blog writings.
And, Mr. Adams is also on the forefront of Widget technology, as evidenced by his newly colorized Dilbert strips in a shiny new online-embeddable widget format (see below). What makes his marketing tolerable is that he is often willing to give away something of value (his comic strip or a free ebook such as "God's Debris") to popularize his brand and entice customers to buy something else (i.e. Dilbert branded merchandise or a book sequel such as "The Religion War").
Hats off to you, Mr. Adams for trying out interesting new ways of melding marketing with technology!
Here's a step-by-step process to create your own QEDwiki application using a StrikeIron Service.
Before you begin, you will need to register on the IBM.com site to have an ID to use QEDwiki. To register, simply go to https://www.ibm.com/account/profile/us?page=reg By having an ID on the IBM.com web site you can also access other premium content such as developerWorks tutorials and alphaWorks downloads. To use StrikeIron services within QEDwiki, you will also need to register an account on the StrikeIron Web Site athttp://www.strikeiron.com/Register.aspx . (Remember to check your email to fully activate your StrikeIron account.)
Now that you've registered on both the IBM and StrikeIron web sites, you can now create a simple situational application on the QEDwiki mashup maker utilizing StrikeIron Services by doing the following steps:
Once you enter your IBM ID and agree to the license, you will see the QEDwiki welcome page.
Optional step: You can click on the links on the left menu to learn more about using QEDwiki. Good places to start are to select "Introduction" and view the "How To" subtopics, such as How to Create a Page, How to Create Data, etc. Also you should view the Tutorials located in the "AssemblersGuide" section.
Select "Create a Page" (and remember to name the page a WikiWord!) So type in a page name like JohnsTestPage1234 ... There is a restriction to always use unique page names (not used by others) because these pages can be shared with your friends. Also choose the "Two_Row" Page type.
Once you have created a new QEDwiki page, get into the "Assemble" mode by selecting the "Assemble" tab on the upper right corner.
Then from the Widget palette on the left side, type "SearchForm" and press "Go". You will see a "Search Form Widget" appear on the palette.
Drag and drop the "SearchForm" widget into the first row within the QEDwiki page. You will get a pop-up and you can put "Enter Phone Number" on the entry and click OK.
At this point, it would help if you do a Page Refresh on your browser to update the contents of the page. (to avoid a small bug that will be fixed soon.) Then make sure you go back into "Assemble" mode.
OK, now it's time to find a StrikeIron service to use within this QEDwiki application. On the Widget palette, choose "AlphaWorks MashupHub" as the source and type "strikeiron" on your Search bar. Press "Go". You will then see the following palette which displays multiple StrikeIron functions that you can use:
Drag and drop the "ReversePhoneBusinessIntel" icon (the one with a question mark) onto the second row within the QEDwiki page. You will see a pop-up panel for this widget requesting you to enter a valid StrikeIron ID and Password in order to use the StrikeIron Service. Then select the "Next" button on the upper right corner of the pop-up panel. (Do not press the "OK" button just yet.)
On the next panel, it asks for you to enter a phone number. Instead of having a static number, we want to use the SearchForm to allow users to enter phone numbers in the entry field. We want the ReversePhoneBusinessIntel widget to consume the contents of the SearchForm entry field. So select the "paper and pencil" icon on the far right of the entry field.
On the next panel, select the "SearchForm" widget and the "search" topic, and press "OK".
The resulting "editing properties" panel should look like this:
Then press "OK", and select the "View" tab because you have now finished the assembly of your QEDwiki situational app.
For this application, you can enter business phone numbers and perform a "reverse phone number lookup". For new accounts, StrikeIron will provide you with 25 free hits. So if you enter a business phone number such as 914-499-1900, this is what the final application looks like:
So with similar steps, you can create new QEDwiki applications which use other StrikeIron services or which use data services from other providers. You can add map widgets or weather forecast widgets if you want. The page you just created is a wiki page after all, so you can add text to the page by simply selecting the "Page" tab and choosing either the WYSIWYG Editor or Text Editor. Your situational application web page can then be shared with anyone you choose.
John Feller Manager, IBM Emerging Technologies Development
Google announced on Friday July 20 that it would be up to $4.6 billion for the premiere chunk of the wireless spectrum (700 mhz) that will become available next year. Their stated intentions are consistent with their investments in mobile search capability and their support of the iPhone. Just as the iPod organized the inefficient and uninteresting market of portable mp3 player, Google and the Apple iPhone seek to add coherence, hence value, to the take-it-or-leave-it world of current mobile phone offerings ('this phone comes from this carrier with this set of features. Period). Google intends to turn cell phones into commodities, like televisions or land-line telephones, where a customer buys the device and contracts a carrier such as Verizon or Sprint and adds the software in the form of widgets and gadgets that the customer desires (my iPhone for example, has access to dozens of these small applications in addition to those pre-loaded such as weather, stock prices, address book). There are plenty of regulatory and entrenched competition to overcome (meaning lobbyists at the FCC), but Google has the deep pockets and my teenage son has no interest in his primary screen (cell phone) being only a phone. He wants a true mobile, upgradeable device that he is able to customize to suit his lifestyle. cperrien
David Barnes does a great job explaining QEDWiki on this YouTube video. For anyone interested in QEDWiki, this video is a must-see, especially for the demo of data mashup using a StrikeIron web service to do SMS text messaging. I also liked how he dragged the EditGrid online spreadsheet directly from ProgrammableWeb into QEDWiki.
One of the big problems to be solved in the world ofwidgets/gadgets/modules/components/etc. is how to publish, discover andingest them. OpenSearch is one such method for searching for widgets that makes sense. But I just heard about another site called Pingerati. Pingerati is effectively a pub/sub mechanism for web pages containing microformatdata. It is a push mechanism, in that a page that is updated must tell(ping) Pingerati about the update. Pingerati then crawls the site andforwards the microformat updates to registered subscribers formicroformats of that type. Listeners can subscribe to all microformatupdates or just microformats that they are interested in. Further,there is an API that a web developer could use to automate this processfor catelogs or personal sites. Lastly, if the name sounds alot like Technorati, that's with good reason given it's a Technorati project.
Thiscould be a key piece of the widget lifecycle puzzle in that widgetspublished to a personal site or catalog, could then easily publicisethat update to other catelogs or interested parties, such as installedinstances of widget frameworks.
OK, so I've now heard the fourth different term for what I think is essentially the very samething. IBM tends to use the term Widgets of course to describe blocksof functionality used in different ways. WidgetBox, microformats.organd others use the term Widgets as well. Google has their Gadgets andthe general population of web users seem to use the term Gadgets most often. AOL uses the term Modules, perhaps due to their ModuleT specand the term Components seems to pop up in general conversation aswell. Someday, someone has got to drive the industry to at least cometo concensus on what each of these things are and how they aredifferent -- if at all. My impression is that except for someconceptual differences, we're all rowing in the same direction, we'rejust putting a slightly different spin on it.
I've spent a good amount of time talking with Kevin Lawver from AOL. He is also the author of lots of stuff on Microformats. We're on the same page on this stuff. Perhaps there is an opportunityto help standardize this stuff a bit through microformat definitionsfor these things. He's easily the most interesting person I've met here so far.