Mash It Up with Microsoft Popfly

Review: A new beta from Microsoft lets novice Web users create composite applications or "mashups" from a variety of Web-based gadgets and services.

Every Web 2.0 technology has had its time at the top of the hype cycle, from RSS feeds to blogs to wikis to podcasts. Now, it seems, is the time for mashups to get the lion's share of the Web 2.0 attention, as plenty of technology titans, from Adobe to Google to Yahoo, are starting to release tools to let people create mashups.

Also getting into this game is Microsoft, with the release today of a beta of Popfly, a free service designed to help novice users create mashups that can combine small Web-based applications or gadgets and a variety of Web services.

Popfly is based on Microsoft's Silverlight technology and because of this I found that I was able to successfully use Popfly on both Windows and Mac OS X systems and on both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Despite being a beta and having a few shortcomings, I am very impressed with the implementation of Popfly and how easy it makes it for nearly any medium-savvy Web user to create a variety of composite Web applications, especially when compared with other mashup tools that require users to understand a fair bit about Web scripts.

With Popfly users can create most mashups simply using a drag-and-drop interface and filling out information in form-based fields. Probably the biggest weakness in Popfly is its reliance on Silverlight for users to be able to view and use most of the mashups that are created. While Silverlight provides cross-platform capabilities, it is still not found on a majority of user systems.

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