Mix 06
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Services as a Platform

Back in a previous life, I did lots and lots of system integration.  I was an early adopter and designer of the services orientation paradigm, and used this to great advantage in developing architectures to support exposure of legacy data to business and presentation tiers.

There is a similar movement afoot in the web at this time.  Developers are producing applications that acquire information from disparate sources allowing users to customize their personal data experience.  Whether a web site presented on a PC or designed for a smaller form factor (like a device), users are assembling and requesting the data they want at the time they want it, something I refer to as “information snacking”.  I covered this more fully in my “Extend Your Reach” post a few weeks ago.

We are in the sweet spot for aggregating applications at this time; there are a number of services available on the web, many for little or no cost.  Directories for these services are only a web search away; Google offers one, so does http://ideas.live.com.  Many providers are testing the waters to see what kind of revenues they can earn from providing accessible services to a composite application environment.

These composite applications can be everything from simple aggregators to customizable portals.  Have you looked at http://live.com lately?  Once logged in via Passport, there is an entire page that a user can customize and have served in a web format.  Ditto on http://my.msn.com/ and http://my.yahoo.com/ (both also require logins).  These sites let our users select and customize their content, again, the data that means the most to them.  When the user comes to snack, this experience is exactly what they seek.

A side note: as these portals and composite applications get ‘smarter’, they’ll start serving up mobile content for smaller form-factor devices.  Some portals perform do similar functions already: http://www.google.com/xhtml opens a small form factor page as does http://wap.oa.yahoo.com/.

As I drift off into the Reach pillar, you might ask: what is my grail?  I seek a better experience for both for the developer and the user.  I seek the experience where the web server determines the target browser and provides the appropriate form factor to the device.  A little simplification, a bit of form factor magic, and you have a customizable, extendable experience to expose services.  Join the conversation. Register now.

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About micoat

Michael is a Microsoft Technical Evangelist on the Strategic Solutions team. He creates business solutions using technology and works with partners to implement them.