Friday, November 13, 2009

Saying goodbye to zembly

I was involved with the leading-edge web site, zembly, beginning in fall 2007, writing example widgets, applications, and data services for the companion book ‘Assemble the Social Web with zembly.’ zembly, the brain child of Todd Fast, began at Sun Microsystems as a web-based social development environment, enabling users to write widgets and other software. The site automatically keeps track of versions and publishes code, deploying the services and widgets for you. You can share the widgets, embedding them in web pages or posting them on sites such as Facebook. The site also lets you build and deploy Facebook applications. The book was published early this year and we presented a sold-out Hands-On Lab at JavaOne in June. Sadly, the site announced its closure this week. Besides thoroughly enjoying the time I spent coding applications on zembly, I really appreciated the interaction with the zembly folks, including Todd, Chris Webster, and especially Jirka Kopsa.

I have two favorite examples I built for the book. One is a Facebook application, Capital Punishment, which helps you learn the world’s capitals using a 20-question multiple choice quiz. Capital Punishment Facebook applicationYou see each answer mapped using Google maps. It includes all the usual social features of Facebook applications—challenging friends and letting you compare your scores with your friends.

Probably my favorite is a widget that shows you how to navigate the London Tube. It maps the station sequence (with Google maps), drawing a color-coded line (matching the tube station colors) to each station. London Tube WidgetThe data comes from, via Dapper. With Google maps, you can follow the route. Markers locate the stations and information windows tell you the station name, line, and where you need to change lines.London Tube Widget destinationIt's tough saying goodbye to zembly. It will be missed by many!!

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