Microsoft Shuts-Down Its PopFly Mashup Tool

Andres Ferrate, July 16th, 2009

popflylogoMicrosoft has announced that in late August it will be discontinuing availability and support for PopFly, its once popular mashup creation tool. As some of you may remember, we originally covered PopFly in May, 2007, shortly after its release as a developer preview.

PopFly

PopFly’s lead, John Montgomery, posted the news on the PopFly Team Blog, indicating that all PopFly-related resources will be shut down:

Unfortunately, on August 24, 2009 the Popfly service will be discontinued and all sites, references, and resources will be taken down. At that time, your access to your Popfly account, including any games and mashups that you have created, will be discontinued.

According to this article on TechFlash, Microsoft’s decision was influenced by budget cutbacks. Despite PopFly’s potential as a user-friendly mashup tool, it faced skepticism due to its reliance on Microsoft’s Silverlight web platform.

In another post in which we covered PopFly last year, we cited a New York Times article entitled “Mashups Are Breaking the Mold at Microsoft.” At the time, there was quite a bit of interest in PopFly, and according to the article there was a relatively large user base of non-programmers:

Introduced at the Web 2.0 conference last year by Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, Popfly was picked by PC World magazine as one of the most innovative computing and consumer electronics products of 2007. It has garnered more than 100,000 users — the company says the exact number is confidential — and now has a library of more than 50,000 “mashups”: new components or Web pages that have been created in a visual snap-together fashion, like Lego blocks.

Despite its popularity, there were skeptics early on as well. Tim O’Reilly is also quoted in the article:

“Popfly shows me that Microsoft still thinks this is all about software, rather than about accumulating data via network effects, which to me is the core of Web 2.0,” said Tim O’Reilly, the founder and chief executive of O’Reilly Media, a print and online publisher. “They are using Popfly to push Silverlight, rather than really trying to get into the mashup game.”

Its difficult to determine what impact the discontinuation of PopFly will have on the mashup ecosystem, particularly in terms of tools available for non-programmers. Just yesterday Google reminded developers that their Google Mashup Editor will be shutting down next month. Some of the tools still available to users out there include Yahoo! Pipes and Dapper (although Dapper’s mashup tool has taken a backseat to its semantic advertising tool). It’s unfortunate to see that PopFly had a relatively short lifespan, but in the end, we hope that this will also open up opportunities for others to innovate in this space.

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8 Responses to “Microsoft Shuts-Down Its PopFly Mashup Tool”

July 17th, 2009
at 6:07 am
Comment by: Fresh From Twitter today | zu-web.de

[...] busy with some code mashup.RIP Popfly – it was a fun toy for a few hours, but really nothing more. http://bit.ly/3V0XV3 #mashup #microsoftooh dammmmmnnnn sedappppnyaa!!!!! Ali wilson & Jacquline Goavert – Never Say [...]

July 17th, 2009
at 6:07 am
Comment by: Microsoft Popfly Gets Squashed

[...] ProgrammableWeb in its coverage of the discontinuation of Microsoft Popfly points back to a February 2008 article in the NY Times, in which the newspaper talks about Montgomery and Popfly in a positive light, with the product manager being lauded as “an example of how it just might be possible for someone to teach dinosaurs to dance”. Last fall, his team introduced an intriguing software Web service called Popfly that is intended to make it possible for nonprogrammers to plug together Web components and data sources quickly to create useful new Web services. For example, news feeds could be added to digital images, or data lists to maps. [...]

July 17th, 2009
at 4:13 pm
Comment by: rascunho » Blog Archive » links for 2009-07-17

[...] Microsoft Shuts-Down Its PopFly Mashup Tool Microsoft has announced that in late August it will be discontinuing (tags: blog.programmableweb.com 2009 mes6 dia17 PopFly mashup microsoft webservices) [...]

July 17th, 2009
at 9:42 pm
Comment by: Get your News » Microsoft Popfly Gets Squashed

[...] ProgrammableWeb in its coverage of the discontinuation of Microsoft Popfly points back to a February 2008 article in the NY Times, in which the newspaper talks about Montgomery and Popfly in a positive light, with the product manager being lauded as “an example of how it just might be possible for someone to teach dinosaurs to dance”. Last fall, his team introduced an intriguing software Web service called Popfly that is intended to make it possible for nonprogrammers to plug together Web components and data sources quickly to create useful new Web services. For example, news feeds could be added to digital images, or data lists to maps. [...]

July 18th, 2009
at 8:22 am
Comment by: Styker.Net » Microsoft Popfly Gets Squashed

[...] ProgrammableWeb in its coverage of the discontinuation of Microsoft Popfly points back to a February 2008 article in the NY Times, in which the newspaper talks about Montgomery and Popfly in a positive light, with the product manager being lauded as “an example of how it just might be possible for someone to teach dinosaurs to dance”. Last fall, his team introduced an intriguing software Web service called Popfly that is intended to make it possible for nonprogrammers to plug together Web components and data sources quickly to create useful new Web services. For example, news feeds could be added to digital images, or data lists to maps. [...]

July 24th, 2009
at 1:26 pm
Comment by: Spinvox’s Paid API Gains Developer Traction

[...] stream, as we’ve seen recently with Google’s Mashup Editor and Microsoft’s PopFly mashup tool. Tags: Money, Telephony, cloud Previous post Blog Home Next post Subscribe: RSS twitter [...]

December 3rd, 2009
at 4:51 pm
Comment by: Microsoft Releases SDK for Facebook

[...] the Facebook SDK for some time now, with Facebook integration being one of the features of the now canceled Popfly mashup creator. However, this is the first release to be officially supported by Facebook. [...]

November 26th, 2012
at 11:09 pm
Comment by: Ritu

I should say that in many soutatiins raster data is more useful than vector data. For most locations where we work there are simply no maps. This point was made clear in 2005 during the Nias Island earthquake response off the west coast of Sumatra. We arrived at the coordination meeting early the next morning only to find that the only workable map was a Dutch map from the early 1900 s. They ran it through a copier and zoomed in on each quadrant so eventually there was a b&w patchwork of A4 paper one meter square. All those millions of dollars and all we had was a hand drawn map with a small number of villages approximated and their names inked in with exquisite handwriting. It was a beautiful map but for the most part useless.My dream machine for that situation would have been a laptop loaded with Google Earth, a digital projector, and high res imagery cached on a DVD (Steve/Jeff) or we could have jacked in a BGAN which would have been easy enough to do. There was plenty of power and with everyone sitting around throwing out the latest info from folks on the ground we could have come up with an extremely well populated map. At the end of the meeting everyone could plug in their flash drive and take the data with them or just wait for the HIC to kick out an email with the updated data (although I’d rather take the data with me).Even if I didn’t have the latest high res imagery, just some high res stuff, I could make pretty accurate guesses as to affected areas, possible landing zone locations for folks like AirServ/UNHAS (although you can’t beat an overflight), possible transit routes and with 3D terrain available (Nias is full of mountains) you can estimate travel times. Once we populated that map in the meeting, and overlaid a transparency of the Dutch map or some of the surf maps that were available, posted rapid assessment reports and dropped in some snapshots from the pilots and first teams in, we would have had an extremely useful tool. But without that base imagery to build on, and granted it has to be half way decent, we would not have been much better off than we were. If you can simply see a village in a photo you don’t have to rely on someone telling you where it is or how to spell the name. (One of the greatest location based problems is how to correctly spell the name of a site. This is particularly problematic in the Middle East.) I see it, you see it, there it is next to the river, etc Even folks who have never seen a satellite image can quickly locate landmarks.Another problem is that roads move all the time. In eastern Chad you approach a sand dune and basically guess the route. Sand shifts, roads shift and disappear. Also, the way sand builds-up in wind shadows you will have different densities and while good drivers can read the terrain and navigate accordingly so can’t. That means that you might come off 1/2 mile of dune in a spot 1/4 mile from where you did the day before and, if there are tracks, you just might follow them. This has implications other than inconvenience since some alternate routes may run through unfriendly locations. Often times you will find yourself with a city driver who has no idea about bush driving and possible tribal tensions. This is really a long way of saying if I can open up my laptop and stare at an image, and then out at the terrain, I could possibly find my way to the next site. And if your driver is sick and you have to drive you need all the help you can get.Roads move, hills slide, pronunciation is tough, alternate routes are sometimes unavoidable, etc. GPS units are nice but in Ethiopia in 2001 technologies were strictly forbidden and a unit like that, had they picked it up at the airport (although not likely) would have gotten you in a pickle. Comm’s were also not allowed (they didn’t have GSM coverage) and the best method of communications was either yelling from hilltop to hilltop or sending a driver for a two hour drive with a question penciled on a piece of paper and waiting four hours for the response. Point is GPS units were not always welcome (although I am sure that now there are a multitude of folks driving around with Garmin units suctioned to their windshields and I’d like to hear about your experiences if you are one of them) nor is it convenient to carry the thing around with you all the time. Also, don’t forget US gov’t export regs for places like Darfur. Paul and Stefan wrote about the brouhaha some time ago and it seems to be mostly over but it was a pain in the butt for a while and GE was prohibited in Sudan for this very reason (I believe it was self-imposed from Google’s side). The host country might not care at all what you are carrying, including software, but the US gov’t certainly does, especially if you’re on their dime. Precise data collection isn’t always easy.Lastly, and I hear Mifan on this one, online systems just don’t cut it for various reasons.

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