All posts tagged ‘mashups’

File Under: Web Services

Craigslist to Developers: Look Elsewhere For Mashup Data

Thinking of building a mashup using Craigslist data? You might want to look elsewhere for classified listings.

Craigslist has a long history of being openly hostile to outside developers, but the site took its walled garden mentality to new levels with a recent decision to block Yahoo’s popular Pipes tool from accessing the site’s data.

According to developer Romy Maxwell, Craigslist has blocked Yahoo Pipes primarily to stop his mapping mashup, Flippity. The Flippity mashup was using Yahoo Pipes to gather Craigslist posts from its public RSS feeds and plot them on a map. This apparently rubbed Craiglist the wrong way, but rather than just block the offending Pipe, Craigslist decided to block the whole service — effectively killing thousands of Yahoo Pipes-based mashups.

This isn’t the first time Craigslist has shutdown outsiders trying to improve on the site’s famously antiquated tools — the site previous blocked ListPic, a tool designed to help Craigslist users browse by images and a tool to search all the Craigslist sites at once.

However, unlike ListPic, which Craigslist claimed was using resources excessively, the latest ban doesn’t seem to be about traffic.

In his blog post, Maxwell claims his application complies with Craigslist’s terms of service and doesn’t use excessive bandwidth. In fact, according his post, the Yahoo Pipe in question is private and only runs once every fifteen minutes. Couple that with the fact that Yahoo Pipes caches the data it scrapes, and one could conclude that bandwidth concerns should not be a factor in the shutdown.

As Wired magazine reported in its cover story about Craigslist earlier this year, the company has been quick to ban third-party search services which “[subvert] Craigslist’s mission to enable local, face-to-face transactions” or services which “increase the risk of scams and can be exploited to snatch up bargains, giving technically sophisticated users an advantage over casual browsers.” Flippity doesn’t appear to have been introducing any feature that would enable such behavior.

So, perhaps Flippty was in violation of the TOS? Maxwell asked founder Craig Newmark about the app and Newmark told him, “as a rule of thumb, [it's] okay to use RSS feeds for noncommercial purposes.”

If it’s unlikely to be about bandwidth and there’s no overt violation of the TOS, why ban Yahoo Pipes?

Frankly, we’re not sure. Craigslist isn’t talking — we’ve contacted the company and asked for an explanation, but as of this writing, nobody has gotten back to us, nor has any public statement been issued.

One thing that is clear though, if you’re thinking of adding Craigslist data to your application, think again.

For its part, Maxwell says Flippity will continue, but plans to use data from developer-friendly sites like eBay and Oodle.

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File Under: Uncategorized

Mashups Are Dead, But the Web is Alive

Photo/Wikipedia mashupMashups, web apps which merge two or more data sources, essentially arose from the introduction of the Google Maps API in June 2005. APIs for easily accessing data existed before then, but a way to visualize it geographically was a huge tipping point.

Due to the popularity of map mashups, ProgrammableWeb’s mashup directory is over a third mapping-related. But something interesting has been happening: other types of mashups are becoming popular. Over the last two weeks, for example, maps mashups are only 20% of the new additions to the directory. Granted, it’s a small sample and mapping is still tops by far, but other ways of mashing up data are becoming more relevant.

How can mashups be both dead and more relevant? Consider Friendfeed, which aggregates your data using APIs of several social websites, pulling in each item you and your friends post to Twitter, Flickr, Digg, your blogs. It fits the criteria of a mashup perfectly. If Friendfeed was entered into the recent MashupCamp contest, it would have come away victorious. Friendfeed is an uber-mashup, though nobody calls it that.

Mashups are dead because the whole web is becoming a collection of APIs. In the future, showing an embedded map of liquor stores near that New Year’s party won’t be a snazzy add-on, it will be a necessary feature.

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File Under: Uncategorized

HeatMaps Make Map Mashups a Little Hotter

Maps are a mainstay of mashups. If you have geography data of any sort, chances are you might like to slap it on a map. With HeatMapAPI, you have a chance to show something a little more interesting than standard markers on your map.

San Francisco heat map

HeatMapAPI is a free JavaScript library that works in conjunction with the Google Maps API. In addition to loading a standard map (check out our Google Maps tutorial), you can add your data to be heatmapped over the map. Larger values (tied to latitude/longitude points) show a more intense color.

The downside of this API is that calls are limited to 100 values without paying for more access. That seems like a small number, but it takes very few data points to generate a nice looking heatmap.

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