I have yet to write a post specifically on mashups even though they are a popular topic in web 2.0 discussions. Conceptually, mashups simplify the ability for masses to enter the application development realm. Take a look at the QEDWiki video below to get a sense of what this could look like (Caution: Try to ignore the annoying hand gestures from the guy in the bottom right).
Imagine, you and I can string together a custom application based on components that have been pre-built elsewhere through a drag & drop interface. It is the democratization of application development! At least in theory anyways. How real is this?
Well, Dion Hinchcliffe recently wrote an excellent blog on the state-of-the-nation with mashups called, "A bumper crop of new Mashups". In it he reviews all of the leading mashup platforms and discusses what the hold-backs are of using mashup technology in the corporation. Specifically he identifies 5 barriers.
1. Deep access to existing enterprise services and data/content repositories
2. SaaS-style Web-based mashup assembly and use
3. Assembly models that are truly end-user friendly with very little training required
4. A credible management and maintenance story for IT departments that must support a flood of public end-user built and integrated apps, and last but certainly not least
5. Mashup products that address important questions about mashups and enterprise security
I tend to agree with Dion on his summary and see striking similarities as to why the geekier cousin of mashups (aka SOA) has also not been standardized. Although this list is a nice and tidy 5 point list, each of these points could require an arsenal of architects to address in a company.
Will we get there? I think so. As companies start building out the platforms addressing the 5 areas of concern we will start to see the value proposition increase.
One question I get is what's the difference between using a wiki, versus sharing a document on Microsoft Sharepoint? You could answer with some of the "technical" differences such as wiki's are web based and Sharepoint allows you to collaborate on common documents. Certainly in the web this has value since Sharepoint for the world just doesn't exist so wiki's are popular. But what about inside a company that has Sharepoint (or similar). Why a wiki? Simplicity?
Another possibility is that since wiki's are web pages, they can easily integrate gadgets and web services. Perhaps we'll see wiki's evolve to be the mashup platform of the future.
For now, these are interesting concepts whose time will come.... In my opinion, it's just not there yet.