Numerous New Dev Tools at Web 2.0 Expo

The annual Web 2.0 Expo is considered a prominent showcase and launching ground for noteworthy next-generation applications, and last week's gathering in San Francisco was no exception. A large swath of new tools and technologies for the growing number of developers looking seriously at opportunities in the cloud and building new rich interactive applications (RIAs) made their debut.

Among the companies represented was auction provider eBay, which said it will let developers build applications into the interface starting this summer. The company released the beta of its Selling Manager, aimed at letting developers embed the eBay selling interface into their applications.

The company is looking to attract more developers to build applications into the interface, said Mark Carges, eBay's vice president of platforms and CTO of marketplaces, during a keynote address. "We don't want to limit the eBay experience to the things we can think of ourselves," Carges said.

"We have a pretty comprehensive set of APIs and a lot of tools and resources," said Kumar Kandaswamy, head of eBay's developer program and platform product. Kandaswamy added that eBay has embraced the OpenSocial gadgets specification and is providing tools through its developer portal.

Adobe Systems CTO Kevin Lynch and Nokia Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki used a tandem keynote to demonstrate Flash Catalyst, an interactive design tool for building interfaces and interactive content without coding. The tool is still in beta, Lynch said. Vanjoki told attendees about new form factors for mobile devices the company is planning, including a wearable wristband phone. Both speakers emphasized the link between application developers and handset designers. Vanjoki also said that Nokia's app store, the Ovi Store, is set to open in June.

Lynch and Vanjoki's keynote came on the heels of Adobe's announcement earlier in the week of a new partnership with Facebook. As reported last week, Adobe is combining its APIs with Flash to create a new set of tools for application developers. It will rely on the Flash platform and Facebook's ActionScript 3 client library.

Microsoft BizSpark was the official sponsor of this year's "Launch Pad" event, in which five startups were given just minutes to pitch their products. The People's Choice winner, Nitobi's PhoneGap, is an open source development framework for building mobile applications with JavaScript. It's designed to allow users to write applications in HTML and JavaScript, but still take advantage of native mobile device capabilities, such as geo-location, camera, vibration and sound. PhoneGap apps can run on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

Among the other developer-focused product announcements at this year's event were a couple of standouts:

A French company called DreamFace Interactive (not to be confused with DreamForce) introduced DreamFace 2.0, the latest version of the company's open source Web 2.0 application framework. According to a representative at the company's booth, DreamFace 2.0 "goes beyond other widget frameworks, like iGoogle and Netvibes, by providing social networking features and mobile services, and by enabling business users to create interactions between widgets."

The company also announced a set of DreamFace extensions, which it called "a suite of mashup kits" designed to extend "the RIA user experience" and integrate external services and APIs into enterprise Web 2.0 applications and mashups built with DreamFace. The first mashup kit, DreamFace FX for Adobe Flex, is being released something in mid-May.

A company called Site9 unveiled version 3.0 of its ProtoShare prototyping tool for Web site developers. ProtoShare is designed to allow developers to create interactive wireframes that contain rich Internet functionality, which, according to the booth rep, "increases stakeholder understanding with the experience of a real Web site in the prototyping phase." The company is planning to release the new version of the tool this week.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Denodo Technologies unveiled a new version of its Denodo Platform. The Denodo Platform is used to integrate data across application and organizational silos for federated data views, explained Suresh Chandrasekaran, Denodo's vice president of marketing. It allows users to extract information from the Web to feed other business applications, to structure unstructured and semi-structured data, and semantically relate them to enterprise repositories and applications. It also helps to create and manage automated Web processes to provide a more agile approach to application and B2B integration.

Collaboration platform maker MindTouch launched a new version of its namesake product at the show. MindTouch 2009 is a development platform for RIAs with an extended JavaScript library built on jQuery and Tibco's PageBus. This version improves on the MindTouch integrated scripting language, DekiScript, the company says. Developers can use the tool to create rich AJAX composite apps, mashups and interactive portals. It also has a feature that allows devs to manipulate and visualize data from various sources. Based in San Diego, MindTouch is the company behind Deki, a commercially supported, open source collaboration platform. It's a combination of a wiki and an app-dev platform.

Finally, a company called ooVoo unveiled version 2.0 of its flagship Web developer tool at the show. Maker of a video-chat application, the company opened up a new API that allows developers to embed its video technology within a Web page. Essentially, the tool allows developers to build widgets and applications on top of the ooVoo platform.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].


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