mashups web services for rollnecks

Sat, Dec 16, 2006

I was reading this interesting article from OCLC on mashups, where they’ve included the content of external “web services” into their library web pages. The term they use is “recombination” and as you can see from Wikipedia the more familar term, for me as a Physics graduate anyway, is:

“recombination refers to an electron becoming bonded with an ionized atom”.

In the case of mashups, the web page is the ionized atom and each web service whose output the page consumes is an electron. Now I understand mashups! In fact, I’ve even been using them on this blog, with the webcam images and weather information. All those “electrons” are recombining with my ionized blog to make it more feature rich. And all without a hint of SOAP, XML, Axis or SAML. Wonderful! I’m seriously thinking of renaming my blog along the lines of this epiphany. So watch this space.

Another example of a mashup is over on my eBothy blog. I’ve “recombined” one of my videos from youtube using their embeddable player. You just copy/paste the HTML they give you when you upload a video and you can play the video from any web page. Again without any sign of XML.

The atomic physics analogy is great for understanding web service granularity. Electrons are fundamental particles. They have no structure and so are standalone entities in the web services world. However, other fundamental particles are Quarks and they can be used to build bigger entities. So you can see where I’m heading with web services granularity.

A web service that just reverses a word sent to it would be an electron type service. It just does it’s work within it’s own structure. It doesn’t need to use the services of other web services.

A web service that verifies a credit card would have lots more structure though. It would take the credit card information and use the services of other financial type web services to make a decision.

There are lots of analogies I could start drawing with the particle physics world and that’s just what I’m off to do. And to think of a new name for my blog.

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