Remixing Applications

Robert Kaye writes:

At first, I didn’t really understand the Remix theme for the conference, but after listening to Stewart Butterfield talk about Flickr and Brendan Eich talk about Firefox things started to click. The key to remixing these two different applications comes from the customizability and openness. In Flickr’s case, Stewart attributed the success of capturing the imagination of it’s users to Flickr’s web service. The 62 functions that make up Flickr’s web service allow thrid party developers to create custom applications that extend the functionality of Flickr, which in turns build a community around the company.

Flickr fans have written tools to upload pictures from Linux and a cool color viewer that shows Flickr images that have the similar overall color. There are two applications that map where pictures have been taken to a map of the world. All of these applications were created by third parties and didn’t involve Flickr other than using the service. These third party developers are in essence remixing Flickr from the outside. This is cool stuff that is part of an enlightened business model — Flickr has more buzz and mindshare than their competitors because of their open strategy.

While Flickr shows off a web service model, the suddenly popular web browser Firefox shows how end users can remix a desktop application. Brendan Eich presented a quick overview of Firefox’s component architecture and techniques for extending and customizing the browser. Firefox was designed to be flexible and extensible by using the XUL XML/JavaScript framework that allows the user to create customized applications with Firefox — not only extensions for the web browser, but whole new applications. XUL hacking is limited to techies that like hacking/programming and not the actual end user — but it is clear that starting with a flexible base allows you create a flexible application.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.