Popfly Now in Public Beta!

For those of you who know what Popfly is the title says it all... as announced today at the Web 2.0 summit by Steve Ballmer you can now sign up for immediate access here.


For those of you not familiar with Popfly it is a new online tool (built in Silverlight) from Microsoft which allows you to easily create your own web applications through a simple graphical interface and publish them to any website.

The interface utilises 'blocks' to allow users to create applications. Blocks are a mechanism which allow users to pull data from other web sites/services, manipulate the data and output it in a new way all using a graphical interface and no code. This allows users to create brand new web applications in minutes without any technical experience or messing around with APIs.

What's more the block architecture is completely extensible so users can easily create new blocks to pull/manipulate/display their data in new and exciting ways and there's also a really strong community around the product allowing you to share both your blocks and finished apps.

So at this point you're thinking one of two things... 1) This sounds too good to be true, what's the catch? 2) Sounds interesting but what can it actually do?

To address both of these trains of thought I set myself a challenge... build a simple web app in Popfly in as little time as possible and do a screencap of the build to show the interface and functionality. So here it is:


Basically I decided to build an app that would pull geotagged photos from flickr.com based on a search string, pull map data from Virtual Earth and then display the photos on a map of the world depending on where they were taken. This would traditionally involve learning both the Flickr and Virtual Earth APIs, writing some code (for example ASP.NET) to combine the data, adding some JavaScript to make the page update without a refresh and then find somewhere to host it all. That's got to be a good days work not to mention the cost of hosting the app, it took me less than one minute because Popfly did the heavy lifting for me and provided free hosting for my application. If you don't believe me check out my video below:


As a side note, I did the screencap with a little known piece of free software from Microsoft called Windows Media Encoder. Thanks to Ben Coley for pointing me in the direction of this useful app.

Technorati Tags: Popfly, Web Applications, Mashups, Microsoft, Public Beta, Silverlight