Posts Tagged ‘APIs

Folks at Google have released another set of APIs for Google Apps and like the previous drop in September this one is for administrative tasks.

This is actually a big deal deal because unlike earlier user-oriented APIs these give you programmatic administrative access to all users’ data and settings.

Here’s the key difference in what we had before and what we have now:

A strong move meaning that the enterprise folks at Google are really starting to think about enabling the ISV ecosystem around their technology. After all, this is what made Microsoft so successful.

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As Microsoft is ramping up its cloud story it seems that Live Mesh is starting to be positioned as one of the key elements. For example, now the Mesh framework got renamed to just Live Framework – quite a promotion unless there’s something else added in there.

I am quite skeptical about the technology and here’s why:

So the Live Mesh project has two components: an application for file (and other data in the future) synchronization and a set of APIs other developers can use. Let’s have a look at both of them.

The Live Mesh application (as I mentioned in my other blog, and as Joel also noticed) is just another version of Groove. Groove was a team collaboration product with brilliant underlying synchronization architecture which allowed aid agencies to effectively communicate in regions like Africa or Afghanistan. However, it never really got into mainstream.

We recently discussed the reasons why with Ilia from and came to the conclusion that for mainstream users it makes much more sense to exchange emails for ad-hoc communications and connect to SharePoint sites for project-related stuff than to set up Groove and communicate within the Groove spaces. Is Live Mesh much different from that? Not really. It has a web UI so you can access the data without installing the client – but does that make it radically different? Is it again falling somewhere in-between email/file uploading site and real team portals? If that will be the case I am not sure this second attempt will be any better than the first one (i.e. Groove).

Live Framework about which we will soon learn more is presumably the underlying APIs for data synchronization across devices and with some offline capabilities. Is that a big deal? Offline is a big deal but not for data only – people want to have the whole web applications offline and Google’s Gears or Adobe’s AIR seem to be addressing the need in a much more comprehensive manner.

I can sort of see how I could use generic data synchronization in my applications but from what I have heard so far (PDC might change it all) it seems to have too many limitations: client download is required (and I have not heard of redistributable version or in-browser implementation) and Live ID needs to be used to authenticate (if that’s the case the system will never take off outside Microsoft – just imagine Google requiring gmail account to access a mesh-up with Google Maps – there would have been 0 of them on the net.)

Will Live Framework repeat the fate of another cool technology which never found a valid application – WinFS?

Microsoft obviously has much more cloud-related stuff which they will start sharing even more in a few weeks. But so far they seem to be producing a lot of isolated over-engineered solutions which do not make up a convincing story. Let’s see if in a few weeks we will have a completely new perspective on their efforts.

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Just a couple of years ago Microsoft was spending incredible amount of effort developing, standardizing and publicizing their WS-* web service stack. This was a huge effort, they teamed up with IBM and others and built and documented a pretty impressive set of protocols covering every possible communications need over http. Now it looks like their internal libraries is the only beneficiary of that work.

Don’t get me right 😉 , ADFS is using (depending on version) WS-Federation and WS-Trust, winrm and PowerShell remoting is relying on WS-Management, and so on, but in general these “standards” are not what the rest of world is using. And it looks like Microsoft is switching its gears too.

Have a look at the PDC 2008 (Professional Developers Conference – Microsoft’s key event on software development and APIs) agenda, and search for REST and WS-.

“WS-” will produce just two sessions. One of them is PowerShell and how it relies on WS-MAN. The other on Windows 7 web services API.

“REST” will give 4 including .NET and SQL ones.

And simply “web service” will give as much as 10.

Do we see WS-* being pushed to the edges and the simpler API coming from grass roots winning even inside Microsoft? Looks like we do.

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The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer Jelastic or anyone else for that matter. All trademarks acknowledged.

© 2008-2012 Dmitry Sotnikov

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