ProgrammableWeb has a nice write up today about some of the challenges in the mashup tools market. It included a link to an excellent write-up of mashup platforms by Dan Hinchliffe of ZDnet. Dan writes:
Mashups could theoretically allow business users to move — when appropriate — from their current so-called "end-user development tools" such as Microsoft Excel that are highly isolated and poorly integrated to much more deeply integrated models that are more Web-based and hence more open, collaborative, reusable, shareable, and in general make better use of existing sources of content and functionality. Remember, business workers still spend a significant amount of time manually integrating together the data in their ever increasing number of business applications. Tools that could let thousands of workers solve their situational software integration problems on the spot themselves, instead of waiting (sometimes forever) for IT to provide a solution, is indeed a potent vision.
We've seen time and again how business users need to integrate and work with data from different sources — although usually only with data internal to the company. However, as the web provides more and more useful information, people will also want to include external data as well. And, if normal people can do this on their own without much IT support, the potential for increased productivity and efficiency, not to mention new discovery, skyrockets.
We're currently exploring some of these possibilities with our recently-released beta of Kirix Strata™. What makes Strata unique is its ability to work seamlessly with data wherever it's located — whether a back-end database like Oracle or an Excel file on your desktop or a website, with or without an API. Much of our work is still cooking in our labs, but we'll be providing some concrete examples shortly. Stay tuned!