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I’ve Been Zemblied

Social Media
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, September 12, 2008
10:42 am

Or is it “Zemblified?”  Regardless of what you call it, last night I was initiated into the wonderful world of rapid, collaborative JavaScript development using the Sun Zembly online environment.  From my perspective, Zembly is:

  • A web-based, rapid development environment for creating web 2.0 “things”: widgets, applications and services
  • A growing repository of “things” developed on Zembly or available from outside sources
  • A social network of developers who can collaborate with each other in the development process
  • A hosted environment for executing things we produce

First, you must know that I am a rank amateur at JavaScript. I had never created a widget or put an iframe on a web page before last night.  My days of software development are in the past, with such old-school tools as Visual Basic, VB Script and Active Server Pages. (How quickly things change!)

But last night, I actually produced something useful with Zembly – on the first try.  My goal: replacing the “cloud” photo that has been hanging around in the upper left-hand corner of my blog for months with a rotating set of photos from my Flickr photostream.  It probably took me longer than it would take you, but here is the basic process I went through:

  1. I searched the Zembly repository widgets that had something to do with Flickr.
  2. I found a  “MyFlickRandomSlideshow” widget that had been created by “Gail”.
  3. I cloned the widget so I could make changes to fit my needs.
  4. I discovered that using my Flickr screen name didn’t work, so I dropped a note to Gail and asked for some advice.
  5. I received a note back from Gail (I still don’t even know where she lives) saying I had actually uncovered a bug.  She fixed the bug, published a new version and gave me some advice regarding my Flickr screen name.
  6. I verified that the change worked, made some tweaks and voila!  I had a working widget.
  7. I then tried to insert the widget in an iframe on the “about” page of this blog and discovered that I needed to learn a bit about configuring iframes.
  8. I Google “html iframe”, found this page, learned what I needed to know and had the widget sized and framed just right to replace the old cloud picture.
  9. I sent a note of thanks to Gail and headed to bed for the night.

So, there you have it.  My clouds have been replaced with my arcane set of family photos.  I met a new online friend. I felt the rush that comes from creative accomplishment.  Plus, I had something to blog about.

So what now?  I will figure out a way to make my call to Flickr more selective so the photos you see are more relevant. I will then create some widgets to make the lists on the right side of my blog more uniform.  And I’m sure I’ll think of other stuff. 

So, thanks to Prakash and Jacques and Gail for getting me started.  If you’d like to give this a try, please let me know and I’ll get you a beta invite.

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One Response to “I’ve Been Zemblied”

    Awesome. This is exactly the way collaborative development is supposed to work. You find some code that you can use, start using it, find problems, get them fixed. As you have observed, zembly facilitates the whole process end-to-end.

    Comment by Prakash Narayan on September 12, 2008 at 11:45 am

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