Metablocks

Archive for April, 2009

Yahoo! Widget TV SDK Rocks!

We got a hold of the Yahoo! TV Widget SDK earlier this week (WDK)! Exiting stuff. As I mentioned previously, we are working with a handful of clients on developing Yahoo! TV Widgets for them so this is the final step in that process. 

The WDK runs on Debian or Ubuntu Linux (so if you don’t have one of these your need to get VMware). The WDK allows developers to develop widgets for the Yahoo! Connected TV platform based using JavaScript and XML. The widgets, however, rely on the media player and APIs resident on each consumer electronic device for video playback so it appears media player capabilities may vary.

On your Connect TV, your widgets live as a list of snippers at the bottom of your TV screen that can be accessed through your remote control.  The widgets are actually very similar in design (tab based) to our widgetmatic 600 series..which will make porting them even easier!

Will keep you updated!

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  • I mentioned last week, but we have been busy building a Page-only, Tab-only application for Facebook that allows marketers to deploy and manage dynamic content on their Facebook pages. Inspired by the new Facebook page redesign, which I talked about last week(see Facebook Page Design – Best Practices), the Tab Manager for Facebook allows administrator to setup Metablocks managed and powered tabs on their Facebook page and pull the content on those dynamically (from common feed sources) or through the application’s own content management system.

    Supported content source include:

    • RSS (and RSS variants)
    • XML/XSL
    • Cut and paste HTML content
    • File-based HTML content
    • Blog feeds
    • Web-based content
    • Custom data sources (databases, i.e.)
    • Enterprise CMS (Content Management Systems) – Vignette, Documentum, Alfresco
    • Web CMS – Drupal, WordPress, Metablocks CMS

    The Tab Mangaer has the following features:

    • Multi-language support: ability to show different content depending on a user’s preferred language
    • Caching: content is optionally cached for improved performance
    • Tracking: for Google analytics, Statcounter, Omniture, i.e.
    • Content Sharing: ability to share content between multiple pages

    Benefits include reduced time and cost of managing and updating Facebook pages, better control of your brand presence on Facebook, the ability to dynamically synchronize content automatically across one or more Facebook pages, while taking advantage of content reuse and centralized management. The Tab manager is idea for media and news organizations, film studios and music labels that have to create, manage and update multiple pages on Facebook. The Tab manager allows them to have better control of their page, reuse existing content and new feeds, enable dynamic content is is constantly being updated, all at a fraction of the price it would cost to do manually.

    tab2manager Tab Content Manager for Facebook Pages

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  • There has been a lot of noise (all good) and excitement about the Intel/Yahoo! TV widget platform. Depending on what numbers you look at (research firm DisplaySearch has most of them), what types of TV you look at (LCD vs Plasma) and if you look at unit sales or gross revenue, the “Top” TV manufacturers are:

    • Top 5 LCD: Samsung, Sony, LG Electronics, Sharp and Vizio
    • Top 4 Plasma: Panasonic, Vizio, Samsung, LG and Sanyo

    That said, the following television manufacturers have announce plans to support the Intel/Yahoo! TV Widget platform:

    • Samsung:  “Internet@TV – Content Service” on select 2009 HDTV models via built-in Ethernet or optional Wi-Fi USB dongle.
    • LG: “NetCast Entertainment Access” on 47- and 42-inch LH50 LCD models and 60- and 50-inch PS80 plasma models via built-in Ethernet
    • Sony: “Bravia Internet Widgets” on XBR9 and Z-series Bravia LCDs with built-in Ethernet (adapter)
    • Vizio: “Connected HDTV” on VF551XVT LCD and other high-end LCDs with 802.11n Wi-Fi
    • Toshiba: “Widget Channel Framework” on its Regza range of TVs

    Panasonic is doing TV widgets in Europe but not the Yahoo platform.  Based on the numbers and facts, it looks like your next TV will probably be widget-enabled, courtesy of Yahoo!

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  • We recently worked with Brash Music to put together a widget/facebook application for American Idol contestant and acclaimed Christian music artist Chris Sligh. Built on our Widgetmatic platform (600 series), the very same widget can exist as a web-based flash widget, a native Facebook application, an native OpenSocial application, a Yahoo! widget, an iGoogle widget, a MacOS widget and the list goes on…(not all the features are enabled in this version but you get the idea). Ideal for music labels, artists and film studios, the Widgetmatic series is designed to host and manage an entire network of artists, movies, services or products through a back-end XML widget content management system and an army of ‘pre-fab’ evergreen widgets. Check it out and while you’re at it..don’t forget to vote for Chris (hint: use the widget below)!

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  • A couple of days ago I blogged about BlidgetPro from Widgetbox. As I mentioned, WidgetBox has a self-service widget offering that allows folks to quickly build widgets. Today I got a kind email from Widgetbox’s VP Marketing & Business, Ryan Spoon, thanking me for the feedback. Its funny but I co-founded one of my previous startups (Epicentric which was acquired by Vignette) with Widgetbox’s founder (Ed Anuff) and I know WidgetBox’s current CEO William Price from my time at Tagworld (another company we helped launch, that was sold to MTV/Viacom) were I was a “customer reference” for WidgetBox (Will has then a partner at Hummer Winblad, WidgetBox’s early VC).

    widgetbox BlidgetPro Examples (and some WidgetBox History)
    Ryan Spoon I know from Kijiji (an eBay company) which was a syndication partner of the last company I co-founded, vFlyer. Funny what a small world Silicon Valley can be (We also designed the logo for WidgetBox when it was called PostApp so there is long, interest history between the two companies – see logo).

    Ryan shared some good BlidgetPro that I thought I would pass on:

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  • The new Facebook page redesign actually holds a lot of promise for artists, bands, and brands who are using Facebook to promote their products, services or simply themselves.  Here is why:

    • Tab-Based Design: The new design allows you to use applications as Tabs. Although most Facebook applications don’t support pages, some do. For those that do, you an add the application (if it supports pages AND supports Facebook application tabs). A new product (from Metablocks) called the Tab Manager for Facebook allows users to bring in dynamic or static content (such as RSS or XML feed, pictures/images and Flash, content from another web page or link, or static cut-and-paste content) or even content from a web or enterprise content management system (ECM/CMS) such as Drupal and WordPress, or a Vignette, Documentum or Alfresco solution. If you are interested in beta testing the Metablocks Tab Manager for Facebook, let us know. Will share more about the the Tab Content Manager tomorrow.tabmany Facebook Page Redesign: Best Practices
    • Ability to Set a Default Tab: This feature is key! Users have the ability to set the default tab for their Facebook fan page to any of the available tabs. You can also remove (except for the Wall and Info tabs) and reposition any of your tabs! tabdefault Facebook Page Redesign: Best Practices
    • A Better Wall: Posts on the new wall are more dynamic and seem more active and the new design allows updates to your Facebook page to have better news feed distribution – this means information can more quickly get to page fans (increasing traffic to your page). Admins can also allow fans to to post to their page Wall, a very cool feature – plus users can filter posts to show only the posts by the Admin or by fans.
      facebook 2dwall Facebook Page Redesign: Best Practices
    • Forget Boxes: Boxes are not so great after the new Facebook page redesign. You can’t change the title of the non-intuitive “Boxes” tab . We suggest that if possible you dump boxes in favor of more intuitive content tabs. As I mentioned we have started designing tab-only page-only Facebook applications specifically for fan pages and we expect others to follow.
    • Status Updates Comes to Pages: This is a fantastic feature (since status updates make it immediately to fans feeds) but it is very well hidden! Previous reports by folks like InsideFacebook placed it in the wall posting tool but as is the case with the every changing Facebook UI, it has since moved (see below). Probably one of the most powerful Facebook marketing tools in a page administrator’s arsenal.
      status 2dupdate Facebook Page Redesign: Best Practices

    Other Resources:

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  • widget examples

    Some Google iGoogle widget examples:

    http://www.google.com/adwords/gadgetads/gallery.html

    Including some from:

    Intel
    Agency: Universal McCann
    Retail
    New Balance
    Agency: Almighty
    Foot Locker
    Agency: Nitro Group
    Media & Entertainment
    Kickin’ It Old Skool (Yari Films)
    Agency: Deep Focus
    A Mighty Heart: Paramount Vantage
    Agency: Media Banners
    Automotive
    Honda
    Agency: RPA
    Nissan
    Agency: OMD
    CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods)
    Pepsi (Sierra Mist Lemon Squeeze)
    Agency: Tribal DDB

    WidgetBox examples (old)
    http://mashable.com/2006/08/23/widgetbox-launches-impressive-widget-marketplace/

    http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/examples-of-good-blogs

    Springwidget Examples, iWidget Examples and Buddy Media Examples Coming soon.

    StepChange Group

    StepChange Group facebook and widgets

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  • Yahoo! Open Applications (YAP)

    Open Applications are Yahoo!’s answer to Google’s iGoogle widgets and OpenSocial platform.   Yahoo Open Apps are part of the Yahoo! Open Strategy (or Y!OS for short) – Yahoo!’s push to “deliver open, industry-leading platforms that attract the most publishers and developers.”
    yahoo 2dlogo Yahoo! Open Applications (YAP)
    Positioned as “Social Platform for Yahoo”, Y!OS really represents a set of open API (Flickr, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Maps, Yahoo! Search/BOSS, ie) along with the “new” Yahoo! Application Platform (YAP) that allows developers to build applications that plug directly into Yahoo! (social) pages (MyYahoo, Yahoo 360, i.e.) and presumably other Yahoo! properties (Flickr, MyBlogLog, i.e.).

    Although the language of what Yahoo! is offering make be confusing – Yahoo! Social Platform (YSP), Yahoo! Application Platform (YAP), Yahoo! Open Strategy (Y!OS) and a whole bunch of other three letter mnemonics that start with Y – the idea is not! Yahoo! wants to compete with Google and Facebook to be the start page for the Internet and needs social media and networking application that captivate a Internet-savvy audience to pull it off! It has the popular email client, a bunch of popular media services (Flickr), good IM presence, it has most of the basic API’s, and all it needs is the glue. Can Yahoo! do it? Perhaps.  Here is my initial feedback:

    • The strategy makes sense – why site around waiting for Facebook, Google (perhaps MySpace) to take over the world – fight back!
    • Yahoo! has all the basic API’s you need to deliver a compelling social platform.  The same can be said for Google, but not for Facebook or MySpace.
    • Yahoo!’s approach to user interface design, SDK and architecture design and platform support has generally been better than those of its competitors. Yahoo! Mail is a lot nicer/cleaner/intuitive than Gmail.  Yahoo! was first with a Flash-based Map API that still looks a lot more polished. From a UI perspective, Yahoo! kicks butt!
    • Yahoo! vision appears more comprehensive (think 360) and well thought out than some of the others. Google seems to have a lot of small disparate APIs but nothing to really pull them together to deliver real power. OpenSocial (which appears to be the only available glue) will probably never be Google-centric enough (given it’s an “open” standard) to pull this off, without becoming even more complicated than it currently its!
    • Yahoo!’s once owned the Internet’s start page. The MyYahoo! personalized portal used to be the starting point for most user’s online experience in the late 90’s when I was busy starting Epicentric – the enterprise portal builder, before the dawn of social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
    • Yahoo!’s traffic and network cannot be underestimated. Yahoo! is ranked #2 in traffic by Alexa (Google is #1) and Yahoo Mail has $275M global users. If Yahoo! pulls this off you can expect some powerful social applications that live and interact in such Yahoo properties like Yahoo TV, Yahoo Music, Yahoo IM, Yahoo Toolbar, Yahoo 360%, Flickr and the list goes on!
    • Yahoo! has some innovative services in the works including Yahoo TV Widgets and are currently scouting out some some rather interesting acquisition opportunities, and is playing around with third-party APIs and technologies like Adobe AIR for new product/service extensions and concepts.

    As far as the platform is concerned: Applications support both a small and canvas yiew. Similar to Facebook, YML – Yahoo Markup Language Platform gives developers access to social data and features. Its Caja JavaScript sandbox eliminates threats posed by rogue Javascript code. It comes with a presence API and supports OAuth. The YAP SDK has great support for PHP and did I mention that it YAP supports OpenSocial 0.8 – pretty sweet! The platform comes with a web-based development environment (that’s nice) and apps will off course be featured/listed in the Yahoo App Gallery!

    More to come on this subject later on this week as we embark on a handful of Yahoo Open Application development projects!

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