Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Google Mashup Editor and Yahoo! Pipes

This evening I got an invite to use Google Mashup Editor. I have to say that I have been impressed. Unlike Yahoo! Pipes, this Google Mashup IDE is an WYSIWYG editor. I played with it for a few minutes and I really liked it. The samples that they provided are good enough for a running start and the tag documentation is quite good.

I am currently working with Lancaster County Web Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD aka 911) data which is provided as a RSS feed. I am trying to render them on Google Maps. I tried to the exact thing with Yahoo! Pipes and I felt it was less user friendly. It is true that with movable Widgets and connecting with them with "Pipes" can be fun but it can also be a frustrating experience. Yahoo! Pipes reminded of the times I worked TIBCO BusinessWorks Editor or the AquaLogic Fuego tool for BPM. It is great once you know but the learning curve can be quite steep. I was and still am frustrated with the widgets that Yahoo Pipes had since some widgets don't work with each other. This is typical of any UI friendly editor compared with any WYSIWYG editor.

With WYSIWYG editors, you can look at the XML code and decipher the programming logic. With UI friendly editors, they may look cool but it can be a frustrating experience. For example the Yahoo Pipes editor had a widget for Yahoo Search but I didn't find one for Google Search. I wanted to run the query "children hate animals" against various search engines but it became a frustrating experience. If any Yahoo! Pipes lover is out there, here are few requirements which might make the Pipes editor more pleasant.
  1. Sort the widgets out and tell the user which widgets work with what
  2. Ability to create custom widgets and save them in a library.
  3. Allow users to publish their custom widgets - this would allow a larger user base since users will promote their custom widgets
  4. Allow users to publish their Pipes on different websites (kinda like Google Maps)
  5. Have contests for the best Yahoo Pipe in each category. Publish the widgets and feeds for each contest.
I need to do more research on Google's Mashup Editor but right off the bat it would be nice to see:
  1. Able to integrate other Google products like Google Talk, Gmail, etc.,etc
  2. Index Google Mashups for higher visibility
  3. Ability to publish Google Mashups and put AdSense around it. Incentive for the publisher
  4. Tighter integration with Blogger
  5. More to come.

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