Combining the interwebs with programming…. Firefox Ubiquity

So what happens when Internet services are combined with a search engine and a command prompt?  Mash up goodness.

Ubiquity is a new FireFox mashup engine of sorts that allows users to on the fly generate mashups of Internet services that operate with XML RPC calls.  Basically it allows data to be pulled together from different sources to create what is called a mash up.  My favorite mashup example is Whrr.  Whrrl is a mashup of google maps and a database of points of interest, allowing for the bookmarking and logging of reviews for places such as restaurants and businesses.  Once combined with an iphone client application, you can also track your current location and make that info free to your friends to use.  So mashups are pretty cool.

But how does Ubiquity play into this?  Ubiquity is a firefox plugin that allows on the fly generation of mashups from a command line like utility.  Now, mashups are not specifically easy to generate even for a somewhat skilled programmer.  They require knowledge of the API interfaces of the services you would like to mash up, which can be a challenge.  Ubiquity eliminates some of these challenges by doing the mashing up part for you.  The demos of Ubiquity that I have seen can take a snippet from a website and email it to a contact in gmail with the simple command “mail to ‘contact'”.  Essentially it is supposed to know what you want to do, which is the remarkable part.

It supposedly can do just about anything from posting to a blog to inserting maps and restaurant reviews into email.  But the versatility of mashups come at a price – usability is still nowhere even close to what the common Internet user can handle.  It is a good step, but in time it will need to be better.

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