Kapow Launches First Mashup-builder Community Web Site

Kapow Technologies has launched what looks to be the world's first online mashup-builder community. Unveiled today at the Gartner Application Integration and Web Services Summit in Orlando, Florida, openkapow was created to accelerate mashup adoption and industry best practices in mashup design, says company founder and CEO Stefan Andreasen. And maybe to snag a few customers.

''It's like we've been selling refrigerators before anyone has seen an ice box,'' Andreasen told me. ''We have 200 very happy customers, but that's a drop in the ocean. Openkapow is our way of promoting Web 2.0, supporting mashup developers, and making people aware of our product.''

You gotta love a guy who's that straightforward.

Andreasen's Palo Alto, CA-based company specializes in providing mashup serving, feed serving, and Web scraping software that enables companies to deploy content-intensive applications, such as enterprise mashups and Web 2.0 services. The company's flagship product, the Kapow Mashup Server, is designed to allow users to connect, collect, and mashup virtually anything on the Web.

The launch of the developer community site coincides with the release of the newest version of that product, Kapow Mashup Server 6.2, which is now shipping.

Kapow was actually providing enterprise-class technologies that use a Web-based approach to building composite services and applications before ''mashup'' made its way from the pop music world to the next-gen Web. It turns out that Intel has been a Kapow customer for about two years. According to Intel project manager Mike Straight, who works on the company's global Web operations team, the Santa Clara, CA-based chipmaker has built an extensive content-management-system mashup with the Kapow Project Manager. Intel is also a big openkapow.com booster.


''As a multi-threaded solution, openkapow builds mashups that take advantage of Intel quad-core technology to effectively deliver enterprise benefits to users of the next generation of web applications,'' said Jason Powell, Intel's designated Kapow project manager, in a statement.

''Openkapow is all about accelerating the adoption of mashups in the enterprise through the network effect and grassroots momentum that a large open community can generate,'' Andreasen adds.

It's hard not to think of mashups primarily as a consumer and hobbyist phenomenon. These things are Web-app hybrids, after all, combinations of content and services from unrelated, even competing, Web sites smooshed together to create a new service. But a browser-accessed network is a browser-accessed network, Andreasen insists, whether it's part of the public network or a corporate intranet.

Seen in an enterprise context, mashups can be developed to solve a wide variety of business problems. Portals can be modified or extended to enhance existing functionality. Web services can be created from any existing application component with a web interface (think REST or SOAP). Existing application functionality can be aggregated into composite apps, combining SOA-enabled and older web-based applications and data. Data can be collected and restructured from various Web sources.

Andreasen isn't the first to make the enterprise-mashup connection. Jason Bloomberg, industry analyst at ZapThink sees mashups as part of the natural evolution of the service-oriented architecture (SOA).

''Consumers have been out there doing funky things with their browsers, and we're calling those things mashups,'' Bloomberg told me recently. ''What's interesting to us about this phenomenon is how mashup capabilities are being used in businesses to leverage services in the context of an SOA. We're calling those apps enterprise mashups.''

Whether or not you're interested in mashups, you should check out this website. It went live today, and it's one of the cleanest and best-designed dev sites I've seen. It's graphically inviting and a pleasure to navigate. It runs a version of the company's Mashup Server, which members of the community can use for free to create non-commercial applications. You'll find demos, tutorials, user forums, and blogs.

The site also provides free access to a visual scripting tool called RoboMaker. Kapow built tool around the concept of software ''Robots.'' In Kapowland, Robots are the building blocks of a mashup. They contain instructions on how to interface with source applications, and they execute specific tasks related to the clipping of site content, aggregation of data, and the creation and-or consumption of REST or SOAP-based web services or RSS feeds.

Anyone can download this IDE from openkapow.com, build a few robots, and share them with other developers in the community. All Robots developed by the openkapow.com community will be accessible to members through the Robot Gallery, a common repository on the site. They can be reused either as a standalone component, or in the context of a full mashup.

BTW: Andreasen was in Orlando to announce openkapow at the Gartner conference, so we spoke on the phone. Also on that call today was Joe Keller, former VP of marketing at Sun Microsystems, now the chief marketing officer at Kapow. I talked with Joe a lot when he was at Sun. I thought of him as The Great Explainer: No matter how dense I was, the guy would walk me through an explanation my Aunt Mary could understand.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].