Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wyaworks unveiled

During the course of my many IM convos with Phil Sim in my role as contractor for 1Eyed Sports over the past month or so, he let me know about a bloke he was consulting for who was the brains behind what Phil thought would be a kick-arse startup concept: Wyaworks. Today he blogged about the company, and linked to an introductory post by the bloke in question, John Hyde, and then talked a bit about Wyaworks' first product, entitled WyaCracker. (The company is called Realtime Applications and the project is called Wyaworks, from what I gather.)

I haven't met or talked to John, but Phil told me a bit about him. Like a number of other Web 2.0 operators, John is an experienced corporate developer who is trying to go it alone. Ex-Intelite Gabe Rivera comes to mind as another example. The first thing that strikes you as you hit the WyaCracker site is that like Gabe, John could benefit from the soothing influence of a graphic designer... fire engine red is not user-friendly! Nevertheless, you know John's code is going to be rock solid.

I have had a chance to look at the private demo. The idea of the site is to allow users to create widgets, which I would define as "small pieces of code that you can paste into your own site that reference data on another site". The most common widget in use on the Internet today is Google AdSense code, which is a JavaScript script that loads in ads from Google's servers. In the case of WyaCracker, the scripts that I got to see produced simple HTML forms. So what, you might say, I can create my own HTML forms! Ah, but the beauty of the WyaCracker system is that the data from that form is sent to WyaCracker's database (which is MySQL) and stored there for private (or public, I think) access. Effectively, WyaCracker allows you to create database tables from scratch with all the fields set up automatically, and then enables anyone to use HTML forms to enter data into those tables... without anyone in the process having to know anything about database management.

No word on an API at this early stage and some may cry about "walled gardens of content", but it remains to be seen how open the databases will be. Phil mentions Edgeio and hints that WyaCracker may fulfil a transitional role between the current mainstream paradigm of private data stores and the full edge content vision of Edgeio.

I'm still big on the edge economics that something like Edgeio is based on, but there does need to be this mindset shift before it takes hold.

Phil has built two successful Web sites by hand using the Lotus platform, and I suspect it is hard to break free from some aspects of the IBM mentality. John built WyaWorks using Java, which many Web 2.0 bods would pooh-pooh in favour of more hip languages like Ruby on Rails. As Phil says, WyaCracker is only a proof of concept so it may be that the Wyaworks team will undergo the process of shifting their minds as well before they settle on their final product. I know Tai and I have had to do the same thing with FanFooty and Tinfinger, especially given Tai's corporate experience.

I'll leave the full slash-and-burn qualitative analysis on WyaCracker to Pete Cashmore and Mike Arrington. Suffice to say that I think the concept has a lot of promise but the site needs polish if, as John states, it is aimed at the end user. There are obvious similarities with Google Base and its imitators, albeit at a smaller scale. There remains a market niche for "Google Base for grandmas", and someone's going to fill it. Throw some soft pastel colours and lots of friendly explanatory text at WyaCracker and it could fit the bill.


Blogger John Hyde said...

Everyone likes fire engines! It's setup for a skin changer... just trying to test the waters.

As far as the privacy or public access of everyones data... it will be up to the user. You can block access completely, issue security keys, implement minor levels of security such as referring urls, or open it up. In the current beta security levels are not in place as we are trying not to confuse the issue and want to be steered by feedback.

As far as an API, we will get more into that later... wyaworks already has a pretty extensive one in place... Everything you do in wyaworks (and of course wyacracker).. will be able to be accessed SOAP... and their is also a pretty unique XML XSL engine in place for easy access and manipulation... just to give you an idea (for those who care): a simple insert widget for your table (with your style from wyacracker built in)

or look at your data (again with your wyacracker style built in - fire engine red)

Thanks for your post! John

6:30 am, April 26, 2006  

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