Doing More with Less: Mash Your Way to Productivity

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Overview of mashup services and strategies for libraries. Presented at SLA-NY Workshop in Manhattan on January, 21, 2010.

Overview of mashup services and strategies for libraries. Presented at SLA-NY Workshop in Manhattan on January, 21, 2010.

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  • 1. Doing More with Less:Mash your Way to Productivity
    Kevin Reiss
    University Systems Librarian
    Office of Library Services
    City University of New York
    SLA-NY Panel 1-21-2010
  • 2. Mashups are more than just:
  • 3. Why Mashups?
    Low-cost/low-risk development
    Rapid development cycle
    Do something fresh quickly
    Typically do not require a huge amount of staff time
    Utilize someone else’s computing power, i.e. “the cloud”
    More and more information service providers are enabling their content to be “mashable”
    Subscription content vendors
    “Free” Internet services
  • 4. What is a Mashup?
    A web application that combine data and code from content sources out on the web to produce:
    Modest improvements to an existing web services (ex: embedded a list of relevant links from a third party service in an existing websites)
    An entirely new web application
    Mashups are typically made up of both:
    Local Content
    Remote Content
    A mashup is composite web application
    Can be thought of as “Remixing the web”
    Presents the user with a new view or service built on top of existing data and services
    Executed with lightweight web programming techniques
    Web services
    Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
  • 5. What do you need to know (technically speaking)?
    Basic HTML
    “<embed>” a service or data
    Collating and parsing feed data is an integral part of many mashups
    Many “web services” return data as feeds
    Basic javascript
    Work with simple APIs and XML as a data format
    Server side scripting languages
    Allows you to fully interface with APIs in your application
    Integrate local and remote content on a complex scale
  • 6. Who’s Doing It?
    Just about everyone
    Many services
    Libraries and library content vendors
    Federated search providers/designers (these maybe the original library mashup)
    Even the Library of Congress -
  • 7. Web Services at Yahoo
  • 8. Web Services at OCLC
  • 9. App Services at flickr
  • 10. What Does one Look Like? – A Google Maps Mashup
  • 11. Or This? A Twitter Mashup
  • 12. Which is possible because:
    Which brings you to RSS:
    Which is the basis for everything on the last slide
  • 13. Mashup Building Blocks
    Data that lives somewhere on the web and a good idea on what to do with it
    Feeds (RSS, Atom, RDF) are often the key ingredient
    Websites as a service provide content in:
    Code that lives on the web
    Application Programming Interfaces
  • 14. Mashup Levels
    Widget Based Mashups
    Working with feeds
    Working with a mashup aware editor (ex: Yahoo Pipes)
    Working with Web Services
    Working with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
    Building your own web application
  • 15. Widgets
    The Simplest Mashups
  • 16. The Simplest Mashups
    No coding required
    Copy and paste
    May need security clearance to run remote javascript hosted on the widget providers web server
  • 17. Explore Widgets at delicious
  • 18. Widgetize Your Content
  • 19. Copy and Paste
    <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
    Into the webpage of your choice
  • 20. Embedded Delicious
  • 21. Librarything Widgets
    Get Your Widget
    Select Your Options
  • 22. Slideshare
  • 23. Which Can Give You:
    The Widget
    Embeddable Code
    This strategy works for youtube, google video, flickr, and most of the “social” web
  • 24. Feed Based Mashups
    Repackaging and Repurposing Data
  • 25. Feed-based Mashups
    General strategy:
    Identify a bunch of feeds you want to keep track of
    Organize them or mine them for useful data
    Process them regularly
    Keep track of when they fail
    Present the results back to your users
  • 26. Basic Feed Content
    RSS -
    JSON -
  • 27. Basic Example - Community Planet or the Feed of Feeds
  • 28. Experiment with Feeds and Yahoo Pipes (
    No coding required
    A good place to experiment with and identify a mashup strategy with little risk or effort
    Clone the pipes of other users to get started
    When you are done with your pipe you send the ouput to:
  • 29. Pipes Interface – Sorting Pubmed Query Feeds
    Drag and Drop
  • 30. Pipe Results
  • 31. Using Feeds in the Library
    Use feeds to aggregate search results from commonly used queries
    Create a bundle of search results important to your organizations
    Use feeds to show new publications/titles
    Combine with Amazon or Google Book search to add new content
    Use feeds to aggregate organizational content
    Pull together bookmarking services of employees
    Pull together blogging content from employees
  • 32. Pipes works with more than just Feeds: Data and Services
  • 33. Web Services and APIs
    Programming the Web
  • 34. The API Building Block: A Restful Web Transaction
    Find a data source?
    Ask it a question in the form of a URL?
    You also have to answer: Am I eligible to get this data?
    Many APIs/Web Services require a developer or account ID to use hence:
    Get data back in XML – often using AsychronousJasvascript and XML (AJAX)
    Parse data with your own local code or the api in question
    Present parsed data in your application
    Resources with unique IDs work great in these sorts of transactions
  • 35. Example: the Yahoo! SPELL Checking Web Service
    The Question:
    The Answer:
  • 36. Home for this Service
  • 37. Where it might live? – Example Deployment
    Response from Yahoo!
  • 38. A fresher setting
  • 39. Programming with APIs
    Typically simple
    The key is to fail gracefully
    Make sure what the terms of usage are
    Many Vendors now Provide APIs
    Most major social web services (flickr, LibraryThing)
    Most major web sources of “book” data (OCLC, Google Books, Amazon, Open Library)
    Many library software vendors (Examples - Ex Libris, Serials Solutions)
  • 40.
  • 41. Query Worldcat via API
  • 42. Using the Google Map API: Digital Murray Hill
    Wordpress powered architectural history website
    Open Source Content Management System (CMS)
    PHP/MYSQL Driven web application
    Combines a number of content sources
    Descriptive architectural metadata
    Geocoding for local addresses
    Google maps content
    flickr content
  • 43. Map Example
  • 44. Coding with the Google Map API
    Setting a Map Icon
    Setting the Map Canvas
  • 45. Flickr Integration
  • 46. Community Photos
  • 47. Mashup Wrap-Up
    Things to Remember about Mashups
  • 48. Mashups and Content Management Systems?
    Is your current web content management system (CMS) mashup friendly?
    Open source CMS systems are ideal vehicles from which to explore mashups at a substantive level
    Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.
    All of the above have extensions that support many of the most popular mashup data formats, data providers, and apis
  • 49. A Good Place to Start
  • 50. Wordpress Dashboard
    Wordpress Delicious Widget
  • 51. Mashup Issues
    Dependence on data or code that in some part you do not control
    Security Policies can change
    Access policies can change
    Usage limits on key-based apis
    Legal Implications
    Make sure to read the terms of service for any service you expect to make public
    Most non-commercial issues are fine
  • 52. What can I do?
    See if your major information service providers:
    Provides feeds
    Try aggregating them in some useful fashion
    Experiment with <embed> options from services like Youtube or Slideshare in order to expand and highlight interesting organizational content
    Experiment with the major social web services:
    Identify a “social” aspect in your organization that already exists
    See if you can aggregate it and produce a useful new view of the data
    Code your own mashup using apis
  • 53. Check out Library Mashups
    Visit the Programmable Web
    Library Related APIs
    Pro Web 2.0 Mashups by Raymond Yee
    Library Mashups by Nicole Engard
    In particular visit the link compilation at:
  • 54. Are my services and data mashable?
    Does my own website provide feeds?
    Can my users <embed> content from our major services?
    Have we selected services and software that play well with mashups?
  • 55. Conclusions
    Choose web resources that are mashable when you can
    Support for this is growing among web content providers
    Mashups can:
    Cost little beyond staff time
    Be fun and easy to create
    Be throwaway work that achieve substantial results
    Add value in unexpected ways
    Develop into essential services