The big mashup news yesterday came from Microsoft with the invite-only alpha launch of Popfly, their tool for creating mashups without writing code. Using the Pop Creator application users can bulid mashup applications and embeddable widgets. A rich drag-and-drop interface built on Microsoft Silverlight has an extensible component model called “Blocks” with built-in wrappers for external web services like Flickr and Live Spaces. You connect these-up to build applications as shown in their good 15 minute introductory screencast.
Along with this tool is an online community called Popfly Space that lets creators “host, share, rate, comment and even remix creations from other Popfly users”. At this point Microsoft will host up to 25MB of data. As we’ve seen with other mashup tools like Yahoo! Pipes, OpenKapow and Dapper, fostering an active user community is an important part of the strategy.
This innovative product comes from the Non-Professional tools team with a mission to “democratize development by making it approachable to an entire class of people that want to ‘create’ without necessarily having to write code.” And they have a wry sense of humor, from the FAQ comes “Q: Why did you call it Popfly? A: Well, left to our own devices we would have called ‘Microsoft Visual Mashup Creator Express, May 2007 Community Tech Preview Internet Edition,’ but instead we asked some folks for help and they suggested some cool names and we all liked Popfly.”
Popfly looks very promising and will certainly heat-up the growing mashup tools space.