SynthaSite Tech Preview (and a bit about widget superstores)

I was directed by Ryan Gahl’s recent post to the SynthaSite Tech Preview. This is an online webpage creator which, as Read/Write Web points out, is no Dreamweaver killer as yet. That article is worth a read for some critique of their ability as an in-browser editor, which is really pretty slick, and their roadmap, which is pretty ambitious. They still have about half of the 1000 seats they released earlier this month available, if you’re interested.

I am particularly interested in their component/widget “superstore” as for me, the unique and powerful reason to use an online website maker over something like Dreamweaver (apart from the cost and ease of setup, which are just incremental improvements) is because they are born into the perfect environment to consume other services and kick them out into their design interface. In short, the perfect webpage editor would make it very easy to grab your data out of DabbleDB, grab your pictures out of Flickr, add a search service, an authentication service, a profile service. Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself here into the next generation where we can build webSITES not just webpages using these tools, but this is where is it going.

A big step that will encourage adoption of these tools is this “superstore” kind of thing. The problem with all of the webpage/mashup creators I’ve tried is that there is no way of writing your own components to add into the mix. Let’s just say you’re an able developer and given the chance (read API’s and doc’s), could fire off a bunch of high-value components, wouldn’t it make sense to put these up for everyone to use but be able to charge if you wanted to, and define how that would work?

This is the approach taken by Jamcracker in creating their Service Delivery Network aka marketplace. What they do well is aggregate independent application and then provide an abstraction that deals with all the pricing and other service-related needs that allows you to sell the service in the way that you want. The original application need know nothing about this as all transactions are brokered through Jamcracker. They don’t do mashups and fancy editors, but they’re not aimed at consumers. We need that kind of ability around the component marketplaces in this new online, services-driven, mashupy world, as it provides a business model that is for once not based on eyeballs.

Pity we can’t just wave a magic wand and merge the consumer and business webs…

Postscript: Having just finished reading Ryan’s post, it seems he is thinking and working along very similar lines to what I just written about. I’m quite excited to see what his company releases…



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