This is WooShop, from MyThemeShop. WooShop WordPress theme is a great looking theme, simple but filled with features that make it a real premium WordPress WooCommerce theme. I love the vanilla design of the shopping cart demo, which is pictured above. The simple, grid layout of products is incredibly visual, letting people navigate to products by what they see, not necessarily a bunch of text.
I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise, judging by the name, but WooShop is 100% compatible with WooCommerce, with a lot of options that you simply won’t see in any other WordPress theme. One of those, a highly visual process where customers can visually see where in the checkout process they are. It’s really neat and it definitely helps your conversion rate.
MyThemeShop has put everything they’ve learned into this awesome template.
Create custom slides, showcase them on your homepage. That’s great for hyping your newest or most popular products.
The design is great too, use one o fthree types of grid layouts on the homepage to customize your site any way you wish.
So, there you have it, WooShop, from MyThemeShop. It’s really got a lot of what you need to create an amazing WordPress site. What do you think? How would you use WooShop? If you do download this theme, we’d love to see what you’ve done with it. Let us know in the comments.
Hey folks, if you’re looking for Polaris, I’m afraid we’ve got some bad news. We’ve decided to retire Polaris and we’re no longer supporting it. But we’ve developed several new WordPress Themes you may be interested in. Check them out, we hope you find something you like.
Single column, WooCommerce ready minimalist blog and shop theme.
Hey folks, if you’re looking for Advantage, I’m afraid we’ve got some bad news. We’ve decided to retire Advantage and we’re no longer supporting it. But we’ve developed several new WordPress Themes you may be interested in. Check them out, we hope you find something you like.
Blue Jay is a WooCommerce ready ,single column blog and shop theme.
Single pages are made to impress. Your featured image and post title are diplayed first. When people scroll down to read your opinion piece, the side columns on the left – author name and bio – and the right – previous and next posts – follow them.If you want a website with a modern, contemporary style, Collecto does the trick. This minimalist portfolio theme for WordPress is the perfect combination of simple and elegant, modern and timeless classic.
Onanma. This website really takes advantage of the simple look, the elegant layout and the crystal clear typography that Collecto offers. The opening image is strong and I really love the masonry grid layout that shows after you begin to scroll down the page. It’s a nice effect and it perfectly shows off your content, making navigation incredibly visual and fun.
Another theme that uses Collecto is MonachopsisMag. This is an online ‘zine, and they’re constantly accepting submissions for upcoming magazines. The use of Collecto really makes sense, it helps form a professional, user-friendly magazine for any purpose. In general, the layout if very similar to the Onanma magazine above.
And finally, there’s VincentEska, another great looking theme that uses a fullscreen image to give their homepage a different look than some others using Themes Kingdom’s Collecto theme.
These are the themes by ThemeIsle, one of the best makers of clean, modern, single page business themes. With tons of amazing features, I think you’ll find something you love in one of these themes. ThemeIsle has a wide range of choices for businesses, blogs, eCommerce sites and more. We know you’ll see something you truly enjoy and that will offer the features, as well as the visual style, that you want.
ThemeIsle offers incredible support and extensive documentation for all their themes. Updates can be installed quickly and that’s important, you don’t need to be struggling to update your theme, which is why ThemeIsle made it so simple to update. Pixel perfect design goes a long way to crafting an amazing user experience, so the world class designers at ThemeIsle have truly dedicated themselves to crafting that amazing design on every page.
This is ThemeIsle’s leading premium WordPress theme, Zerif Pro. Zerif Pro is a one page theme for businesses, it’s professional and responsive, full featured and ready for anything you want to throw at it. Read our full writeup of Zerif Pro and all it’s features here. With loads of outstanding features, Zerif Pro is a really great theme for all kinds of businesses, it works well with WooCommerce or other eCommerce plugins, it’s totally responsive, you can change tons of settings to make Zerif Pro look like a totally customized theme. What can you do with Zerif Pro? Almost anything you want to and there are thousands of people out there using this incredible theme to make their website look great with tons of flexibility and features. The live customizer is a wonderful way to make this theme look perfect, fitting your business’ existing branding.
This is RokoPhoto PRO, a delightful portfolio theme for photographers of all kinds. Simple, bold and different, this is a theme for creatives who want to make a real statement with their WordPress website.
Currently considered one of the leading sellers in the second quarter of 2016, Feat is set to take over the current market in the next few months owing to an intelligent and powerful admin panel, performer, music performer and bands web-post builder along with a built in audio system. This is a great selection for all your musicians WordPress theme demands. Supported music players are all the major titles, Online Radio, MP3s (self hosted or linked), Shoutcast, and you can also generate a drag-n-drop playlist of all your greatest tracks. Release a mixtape and watch as it explodes in popularity. The look of Feat is incredibly varied too, create your own personal color palette, add sweet looking, high resolution background images, video clips and much more. There’s even BuddyPress, bbPress and WooCommerce support too, so you can create an online community based around your music and sell products like music tracks, albums and other cool swag. Feat is among 2016’s very best and brightest musician, DJ and band WordPress theme designs, amazingly responsive and vital. Nice!
Feat is one of 2016’s best and brightest music and band WordPress themes, incredibly responsive and dynamic. While the demo is for musicians, DJs, bands and other music professions, it’s flexible enough to perform miracles and it would look great as just about any sort of WordPress theme, no matter what genre. Whatever your concept, Feat is prepared to make your site look amazing. This responsive theme offers unlimited color schemes, layouts, multiple menus and offers content modules to let you create any layout you want to have. That’s creative freedom at it’s finest. The built in ‘Feat’ page builder offers 11 content modules to expand your design options. This theme also offers revolution slider, essential grid and five awesome widgets to save time and add fantastic functionality. This Retina display ready theme supports all mobile and desktop devices, has a filterable page builder and more.
While the demo is geared toward bands, DJs and other types of musicians, Feat’s flexible and dynamic enough to look great for any type of website. This theme does a lot for not much money, which is nice. Get into the groove with Feat. Whatever your concept, this template is completely ready to make your site look fantastic.
This sort of responsive WP theme gives you endless color schemes, layouts, tons of menu options and even offers content modules to let you to create any type of layout design you want to have, making your site unique and user friendly. That’s creative freedom, baby. The built in ‘Feat’ page-builder offers eleven content segments to expand your design options into the stratosphere. Feat also gives you the premium slider Revolution for free and the essential masonry grid plug-in too. Free is nice! Since it’s responsive and retina ready, it looks amazing on any device, whether it’s PC or Mac to iPhone or Android and everything in between.
I just checked in on this theme, since it’s been a while since we reviewed it, and it’s still really popular, so I continue to recommend it to anyone needing a great music theme.
Spoke too soon! Pour some out for all the homies who couldn’t be here with us today, because Feat is no more. They’ve finally pulled the plug on this theme. So, it looks like they’ve removed Feat from ThemeForest, so maybe you’d prefer to look for another theme? Band themes.Music themes.
2012 looks set to be an interesting year. The economic fallout continues to batter industries worldwide, seemingly with no end in sight; and many governments are doing their best to censor the internet, to deny citizens basic rights or prop up ailing media companies.
For web design and development, 2012 could be similarly turbulent. We’re in the midst of various skirmishes: mobile greedily gobbling up market-share from the desktop; native apps threatening aspects of the open web; paywalls barricading previously openly available information; the collision of consolidation and fragmentation; and skeuomorphism within interfaces contrasting starkly with new, innovative methods of designing and presenting information and content.
Short of owning a working crystal ball, it’s tough to predict exactly what’s in store, but a number of designers, developers and industry figures have given it their best shot. Here are their predictions for the industry over the coming year, and the trends you need to be mindful of in order to succeed.
01. Progressive enhancement
According to Happy Cog founder Jeffrey Zeldman, “the rise of mobile and the dominance of WebKit-powered smartphones over traditional desktop web browsing is convincing even die-hard skeptics to embrace progressive enhancement, HTML5, CSS3, and other tenets and aspects of standards-based design”. He adds that IE now more fully supporting standards should further bolster this “rush to embrace the shiny new”.
02. Responsive design
Zeldman continues that we’re also experiencing a “standards nightmare”, but in the hardware space: “There’s a plethora of devices out there with widely differing abilities – it’s never been more confusing or challenging to create brilliant interfaces that work across them all.” Because of this, he expects responsive design to play a big role in 2012, “bridging the enormous gulfs between platforms”.
Clearleft founder Andy Budd reckons this could be a means for “forward-thinking publishers to usurp Apple’s paywall on the iPad,” and predicts a gentle trickle of big responsive sites turning into a flood by year’s end: “It’ll be like the standards movement all over again.” But Flat Frog Design user experience strategist Erin Jo Richey thinks it won’t be plain-sailing: “Just because a site can shrink in size, that doesn’t mean all the information is equally valuable on desktop and mobile. The type of information users interact with needs to adjust as fluidly as the size of the site itself.” She says 2012 will therefore find more project leads and clients see past screen size and demand an appropriate strategy dictates the content that appears at various resolutions.
03. Flash will survive
Much was made of Flash’s supposed demise in 2011, yet designer Tom Mullerforecasts that Adobe’s technology will have something of a resurgence during 2012: “Many people back the idea of not creating Flash sites, favouring web standards, and I’m less inclined to use it these days. However, I nonetheless believe it’s here to stay for a while.” Muller explains that during 2011 he was involved in three major projects that relied on Flash, simply because it remains the best tool for interactive video, animation and 3D online.
“Web designers and developers sometimes lose sight of what works and is demanded by a larger audience, due to preferring what’s considered ‘cool’ in their bubble,” he adds. “More big brands will shift from Flash, testing the water with HTML5 and CSS3 for focussed campaigns. But for entertainment sites, Flash is – and will remain – the predominant tool of choice to create engaging experiences. And that’s because those sites act as an extension of a movie’s universe, not only existing to serve cold information.” In gaming, Dull Dude Games founder Iain Lobb predicts an even bigger return to Flash: “Clients will try to steer things towards HTML5, because that’s where the hype is, but I think often the right thing to do will be steering them back towards Flash.”
04. Native support for plug-in features
Even if Flash thrives in 2012, the march towards extra browser-native features and power will continue, says Opera web evangelist Bruce Lawson: “As support for the various aspects of ‘HTML5 and friends’ improves and comes to more browsers and platforms, we’ll see greater pressure for native browser support of features that we used to use plug-ins for: camera and microphone access with HTML5 getUserMedia, and other things further out, such as support for adaptive streaming of multimedia.”
05. Appification takes hold
Remy Sharp, self-described ‘MasterChef of code and cookies’ maintains 2012 will see browsers get closer to the platform: “I’m expecting more high-quality, high-performance games running in the browser, in a way where you can’t tell if they’re native or not.” He also thinks we’ll see more sites working directly with files and other aspects of operating systems.
From a visual standpoint, Muller thinks this approach will find designers taking “major cues from tablet and screen interaction,” resulting in a “hybrid design that lives between ‘point and click’ and ‘touch and swipe’”. He also reckons 2012 will find skeuomorphic and heavily textured design lingering, not least due to Apple pushing it so hard on their devices. But publication designer Roger Blackargues in a world of content, designers and editors will “have to shed this propensity to take what they know and convert it to something else”. He recommends: “Don’t think ‘newspaper on the tablet’ or ‘mobile magazine site’, for example, think ‘digital publication’.”
In terms of technology, social software consultant Suw Charman-Andersonreckons the convenience of apps is a boon for consumers but a pain for developers, in “having to create an app for every platform and deal with various store policies”. Beyond the native-versus-web-app row, she sees 2012 bringing about “widespread adoption of mixed native/HTML5 apps, where you can feed content to your apps across all platforms from a central source”. She cites Pugpig.com as an example: “They’re already merging iOS and Android with HTML5 and creating great user experiences. It’s only a matter of time before this tactic takes off as the only real way that smaller content producers can keep up with the demands of different platforms.”
06. Web app fragmentation
While web apps should find increased success in 2012, Lawson fears the year will also be one of fragmentation, replacing one group of proprietary systems (native apps) with another. “The spirit of co-operation between browser vendors will continue for the HTML5 spec, but not filter into other web stack specifications,” he says, sadly, noting that we’ve already seen Chrome-only apps. “A severe case of ‘not invented here’ can be seen in the 10 – yes, 10! – different app manifest formats invented by vendors instead of collaborating to make the W3C one better. This harms developers and, worse, lack of interoperability hurts consumers.”
Mozilla technical evangelist Rob Hawkes is optimistic that Boot to Gecko, Mozilla’s ‘operating system for the open web’ could boost the chances of web apps and “remove the reliance on proprietary single-vendor stacks for app development”. Initially focussed on mobile, it will implement a variety of Web APIs to access elements of mobile hardware.
07. Mobile gets bigger
Speaking of mobile, a no-brainer trend prediction is the continued growth of mobile traffic and usage. “Mobile web-based apps will dominate, and we’ll see the rise of mobile MVC frameworks like the one 37signals is working on,” opines Treehouse founder Ryan Carson.
In terms of market-share, mobile platform strategist Peter-Paul Koch expects mobile browsing to exceed 10 per cent in 2012. “Clients will clamour for mobile sites, and web designers and developers must be ready or risk losing clients,” he warns. Koch holds that making sites ready for mobile will also cause change for the good: “No more Flash, hover effects and pixel-perfect rendering in all browsers. Instead: responsive design, device APIs, and deciding which features are so important that they must be shown on the mobile site, along with an enhanced awareness that a website should work on any device.”
08. A device explosion
Easy! Designs Principal Aaron Gustafson thinks growth in mobile will lead to a major challenge: “Designers and developers will have to embrace the smaller tablet form factors – think Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire instead of iPad – as cheap tablet devices flood the market.” Lobb adds that this will lead to more developers “needing to own multiple devices, in order to check site compatibility”.
09. Respect beyond aesthetics
Designer and illustrator Geri Coady notes how we often say good design is invisible, yet “rarely take notice when a website or app shows incredible attention to detail not only in visual design, but in the choice of language and the behaviour of interactions”. She thinks that 2012 will find more designers and clients understanding that appearance alone isn’t everything: “We should treat style, content, and behaviour with equal respect – they must work together to strengthen the meaning and personality of a site, app, or brand.”
Such understanding will come from enhancing skill-sets (Carson reckons in 2012 that “any web designer who isn’t also a front-end developer won’t be able to find work”) or through collaboration. “I’d love to see more developers learning from designers, so we can do a better job of implementing designs. And vice versa, designers learning from developers, to understand what’s possible, and why some things are harder than others,” muses Sharp. The net result, says ‘Typomaniac’ Erik Spiekermann: “More designers will have an affinity with code and more coders will have an affinity with design”.
10. Social battles heat up
The importance of social networking sites will continue to grow throughout 2012, but opinions differ regarding potential outcomes. Developer Blaine Cookhas an inkling that “Facebook will continue to wane in importance, and we’ll see more start-ups like Path, Instagram, Tumblr, and Spotify, where social interactions are being pushed out to the edges”. But Muller reckons “more social sharing networks and apps will try to take a piece of the Twitter and Facebook pie, but will actually end up integrating those into their service”. He also wonders whether Facebook will “offer tools to create sites, instead of just pages,” to satisfy people’s desire for “continued integration with social media, and services that allow you to share your life online”.
11. Growth of the two-screen model
“I think the two-screen experience will be big in 2012,” predicts Budd. With TV companies more aware of competition in the living room, they’re increasingly keen to push timely, relevant content to this second screen. “Examples in 2011 included the play-along version of a Million Pound Drop, and the Nature Watch tablet demo from the BBC,” continues Budd. “Numerous start-ups have moved into this space, including Shazam’s new TV-show tagging abilities, so expect much more in 2012.”
12. Distributed workforces
During the next year, Richey thinks the set-up of many companies will be atypical. “A new generation of young designers and developers entered the workforce in a time of lingering adversity. With a variety of technologies at their fingertips, many creatives have learned to find jobs, network, and acquire new skills from their bedrooms, the corner café, or a destination around the world,” she explains. “As the economy improves, many designers and developers won’t be willing to trade in their work style and relative freedom for a cubicle space. With a growing number of high-profile tech companies embracing a mobile and distributed workforce, employers looking for top-notch talent may need to re-evaluate their workplace culture.”
13. Stronger customer service
Headscape co-founder Paul Boag reckons 2012 will be the year of customer service within the web industry: “As web designers, we like to think we just build websites. We don’t. We also offer a service to our clients. We are often so obsessed with user experience, code and design that we forget other important factors such as good communication, understanding business needs and exceeding client expectations. If we are going to prosper in 2012 we need to blow our clients away, not just their users.”
14. Better value, not lower prices
Budd believes that the web industry is on a “continuous march towards professionalism” and this means designers and developers need to “up their game or run the risk of finding themselves in a price ghetto”. During 2012, he hopes to see a different approach from more designers: “Stop compromising standards and rushing out poorly planned and poorly implemented projects. Stop cutting corners and instead put in the effort required to deliver your clients exceptional value.” Spiekermann adds that clients will increasingly learn to react strongly to such attitudes and also “understand that websites are never truly finished, along with being more accepting of an agile process”.
15. Pushing the boundaries
Ending on a high, Edge of my Seat founder Rachel Andrew thinks 2012 will be a year in which technological and skills evolution could be rapid. “Throughout 2011, we saw browser support for parts of HTML5 and CSS3 improve to the point where we can really start to use this stuff in our work, and so we’re having to work out the new best ways to do things,” she says. “I’m finding on every project I start now I need to check myself, making sure I’m not doing something because that’s the way it has always been done when we now have new and better ways to achieve the end result.” Andrew believes 2012 will increasingly find designers pushing the boundaries of new technology, “experimenting, throwing away what doesn’t work or that which has been replaced with something better, and working out new best practices based on what we now have to work with”.
The fight for internet freedoms
Not a design trend so much as an argument for activism. A number of developers are concerned that lawmakers continue to argue in favour of curtailing internet freedoms, which in Europe and the USA is typically at the behest of media giants. Zeldman says that “like anyone with even a basic understanding of how the internet works, I’m radically opposed to SOPA,” which he refers to as a “truly terrible piece of legislation that would be impossible to enforce and would shut down virtually every site on the web […] and destroy the DNS system”.
Koch hopes if any country passes an insane law of this kind, “services will move or we’ll find creative ways around them,” while Lawson longs for people to stop using a ‘think of the children’ argument as an excuse for censoring content: “I’m a parent and don’t want my kids seeing [unsuitable content], but monitoring their web use is a parenting problem rather than one of censorship”. Regardless, 2012 will in part be a battle to stop governments seriously damaging the internet and therefore the entire industry.
ItsNat : Natural AJAX. Component Based Java Web Application Framework
Welcome to the ItsNat web site. ItsNat is an innovative open source (dual licensed, GNU Affero General Public License v3/commercial license for closed source projects) Java AJAX Component based Web Framework. It offers a natural approach to the modern web development. Why natural? ItsNat leverages the old tools to build the new AJAX based Web 2.0 applications: pure (X)HTML templates, pure Java W3C DOM!. ItsNat is server centric using a unique approach called TBITS, “The Browser Is The Server”: ItsNat simulates a Universal W3C Java Browser at the server, with ItsNat the server mimics the behavior of a web browser, containing a W3C DOM Level 2 node tree and receiving W3C DOM Events.
ItsNat provides a web based Component System too. These components are AJAX based from the scratch inspired in Swing and reusing Swing as far as possible such as data and selection models (but is not a forced Swing clone in web). Components included: several button types, text based components, labels, lists, tables, trees (all of them with content editable “in place”)… In ItsNat every DOM element or element group can be a component.
Supported desktop browsers: Internet Explorer 6+, FireFox 1+, Safari 3+, Opera 9+, QtWebKit (Qt 4.4)
Supported mobile browsers: Opera Mini 4, Opera Mobile 8.6, NetFront 3.5, Minimo 0.2, IE Mobile of Windows Mobile 6, iPhone/iPod Touch/iPhone SDK, Android (m5-rc15), S60WebKit (S60 3rd), Iris 1.0.8 and QtWebKit (Qt 4.4)
Today’s Web has terabytes of information available to humans, but hidden from computers. It is a paradox that information is stuck inside HTML pages, formatted in esoteric ways that are difficult for machines to process. The so called Web 3.0, which is likely to be a pre-cursor of the real semantic web, is going to change this. What we mean by ‘Web 3.0’ is that major web sites are going to be transformed into web services – and will effectively expose their information to the world.
The transformation will happen in one of two ways. Some web sites will follow the example of Amazon, del.icio.us and Flickr and will offer their information via a REST API. Others will try to keep their information proprietary, but it will be opened via mashups created using services like Dapper, Teqlo and Yahoo! Pipes. The net effect will be that unstructured information will give way to structured information – paving the road to more intelligent computing. In this post we will look at how this important transformation is taking place already and how it is likely to evolve.
The Amazon E-Commerce API – open access to Amazon’s catalog
We have written here before about Amazon’s visionary WebOS strategy. The Seattle web giant is reinventing itself by exposing its own infrastructure via a set of elegant APIs. One of the first web services opened up by Amazon was the E-Commerce service. This service opens access to the majority of items in Amazon’s product catalog. The API is quite rich, allowing manipulation of users, wish lists and shopping carts. However its essence is the ability to lookup Amazon’s products.
Why has Amazon offered this service completely free? Because most applications built on top of this service drive traffic back to Amazon (each item returned by the service contains the Amazon URL). In other words, with the E-Commerce service Amazon enabled others to build ways to access Amazon’s inventory. As a result many companies have come up with creative ways of leveraging Amazon’s information – you can read about these successes in one of our previous posts.
The rise of the API culture
The web 2.0 poster child, del.icio.us, is also famous as one of the first companies to open a subset of its web site functionality via an API. Many services followed, giving rise to a true API culture. John Musser over at programmableweb has been tirelessly cataloging APIs and Mashups that use them. This page shows almost 400 APIs organized by category, which is an impressive number. However, only a fraction of those APIs are opening up information – most focus on manipulating the service itself. This is an important distinction to understand in the context of this article.
The del.icio.us API offering today is different from Amazon’s one, because it does not open the del.icio.us database to the world. What it does do is allow authorized mashups to manipulate the user information stored in del.icio.us. For example, an application may add a post, or update a tag, programmatically. However, there is no way to ask del.icio.us, via API, what URLs have been posted to it or what has been tagged with the tag web 2.0 across the entire del.icio.us database. These questions are easy to answer via the web site, but not via current API.
Standardized URLs – the API without an API
Despite the fact that there is no direct API (into the database), many companies have managed to leverage the information stored in del.icio.us. Here are some examples…
Delexa is an interesting and useful mashup that uses del.icio.us to categorize Alexa sites. For example, here are the popular sites tagged with the word book:
Another web site called similicio.us uses del.icio.us to recommend similar sites. For example, here are the sites that it thinks are related to Read/WriteWeb.
So how do these services get around the fact that there is no API? The answer is that they leverage standardized URLs and a technique called Web scraping. Let’s understand how this works. In del.icio.us, for example, all URLs that have the tag book can be found under the URL http://del.icio.us/tag/book; all URLs tagged with the tag movie are at http://del.icio.us/tag/movie; and so on. The structure of this URL is always the same: http://del.icio.us/tag[TAG]. So given any tag, a computer program can fetch the page that contains the list of sites tagged with it. Once the page is fetched, the program can now perform the scraping – the extraction of the necessary information from the page.
How Web Scraping Works
Web Scraping is essentially reverse engineering of HTML pages. It can also be thought of as parsing out chunks of information from a page. Web pages are coded in HTML, which uses a tree-like structure to represent the information. The actual data is mingled with layout and rendering information and is not readily available to a computer. Scrapers are the programs that “know” how to get the data back from a given HTML page. They work by learning the details of the particular markup and figuring out where the actual data is. For example, in the illustration below the scraper extracts URLs from the del.icio.us page. By applying such a scraper, it is possible to discover what URLs are tagged with any given tag.
Dapper, Teqlo, Yahoo! Pipes – the upcoming scraping technologies
We recently covered Yahoo! Pipes, a new app from Yahoo! focused on remixing RSS feeds. Another similar technology, Teqlo, has recently launched. It focuses on letting people create mashups and widgets from web services and rss. Before both of these, Dapper launched a generic scraping service for any web site. Dapper is an interesting technology that facilitates the scraping of the web pages, using a visual interface.
It works by letting the developer define a few sample pages and then helping her denote similar information using a marker. This looks simple, but behind the scenes Dapper uses a non-trivial tree-matching algorithm to accomplish this task. Once the user defines similar pieces of information on the page, Dapper allows the user to make it into a field. By repeating the process with other information on the page, the developer is able to effectively define a query that turns an unstructured page into a set of structured records.
The net effect – Web Sites become Web Services
Here is an illustration of the net effect of apps like Dapper and Teqlo:
So bringing together Open APIs (like the Amazon E-Commerce service) and scraping/mashup technologies, gives us a way to treat any web site as a web service that exposes its information. The information, or to be more exact the data, becomes open. In turn, this enables software to take advantage of this information collectively. With that, the Web truly becomes a database that can be queried and remixed.
This sounds great, but is this legal?
Scraping technologies are actually fairly questionable. In a way, they can be perceived as stealing the information owned by a web site. The whole issue is complicated because it is unclear where copy/paste ends and scraping begins. It is okay for people to copy and save the information from web pages, but it might not be legal to have software do this automatically. But scraping of the page and then offering a service that leverages the information without crediting the original source, is unlikely to be legal.
But it does not seem that scraping is going to stop. Just like legal issues with Napster did not stop people from writing peer-to-peer sharing software, or the more recent YouTube lawsuit is not likely to stop people from posting copyrighted videos. Information that seems to be free is perceived as being free.
The opportunities that will come after the web has been turned into a database are just too exciting to pass up. So if conversion is going to take place anyway, would it not be better to rethink how to do this in a consistent way?
Why Web Sites should offer Web Services
There are several good reasons why Web Sites (online retailers in particular), should think about offering an API. The most important reason is control. Having an API will make scrapers unnecessary, but it will also allow tracking of who is using the data – as well as how and why. Like Amazon, sites can do this in a way that fosters affiliates and drives the traffic back to their sites.
The old perception is that closed data is a competitive advantage. The new reality is that open data is a competitive advantage. The likely solution then is to stop worrying about protecting information and instead start charging for it, by offering an API. Having a small fee per API call (think Amazon Web Services) is likely to be acceptable, since the cost for any given subscriber of the service is not going to be high. But there is a big opportunity to make money on volume. This is what Amazon is betting on with their Web Services strategy and it is probably a good bet.
As more and more of the Web is becoming remixable, the entire system is turning into both a platform and the database. Yet, such transformations are never smooth. For one, scalability is a big issue. And of course legal aspects are never simple.
But it is not a question of if web sites become web services, but when and how. APIs are a more controlled, cleaner and altogether preferred way of becoming a web service. However, when APIs are not avaliable or sufficient, scraping is bound to continue and expand. As always, time will be best judge; but in the meanwhile we turn to you for feedback and stories about how your businesses are preparing for ‘web 3.0’.