The Dapp Factory Moves to

February 19, 2009 by

Dear Dapper-ites,

Over the years we’ve been moving full steam ahead toward our business model, while continuing to offer’s bevy of feed creation and transformation services for free.  We shall continue that tradition with the launch of — the place to find the tools you know and love to create RSS, XML, Google Gadgets, and your world of content.

Don’t let the new look-and-feel over at the main page bum you out 🙂  You’ll notice some changes there: the focus on our revolutionary dynamic ad creation and trafficking tools, the addition of a few sections that were previously not there (Advertisers, Agencies, Publishers, etc.) and the obvious omission of the Dapp search box.

There’s a link to that will take you to a familiar sight (or site, for that matter).  But go ahead and bookmark that new address now!

We at Dapper feel that this direction — making the world of display advertising a whole lot more Dapper is a goal we can all hope to attain.  By using content rich, informational ads, we can finally escape the punch-the-monkey model and get people to engage with ads as they would with a site feature.  And by monetizing these tools, we’ve stumbled on a heavy incentive for funding the Semantic Web!

Other than that, it’s business as usual, and always feel free to contact us with comments, questions, bugs, and concerns.


Paul Knegten on behalf of The Dapper Staff

Big Update to Dapp Factory

November 26, 2008 by

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve released a major update to the Dapp Factory.  In the new version, you can now see how the content selection works across multiple pages and fix it if it isn’t perfect.

For some background: Dapper works by providing it sample pages that have the same structure, but different content.  For example, if you want to create a Dapp that allows you to extract search results from your favorite search engine, you would provide several different examples of searches (e.g., “cat,” “dog,” and “meow meow”).  Dapper will use the different sample pages to understand the structure of the page, so that later you can use it to conduct any search you want, even one you didn’t train it on (e.g., “woof woof”).  In the past, our interface allowed you provide multiple sample pages, but when it came to selecting content, you could only see how it worked on the first sample page.  If it didn’t work well on other pages, you would only know that after you saved your Dapp, and editing the Dapp so that it worked better on other pages was a chore.  With the new version, you can now see when you are creating your Dapp how it works on all the sample pages provided.

To help illustrate how the feature works, here’s a screencast demonstrating it:

We hope you find this new feature useful and that it helps you create better, more robust Dapps that work across many pages. Should you have any questions or want to discuss it with us, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Something to note: the new version does not extract content from all the pages at once – Dapper remains true to the concept that it extracts content from one page at a time.  Combining content from multiple pages is something that is left to techniques outside the Dapp itself (e.g., MS Popfly with their awesome Dapper integration, Yahoo! Pipes, or good old fashioned programming).

MashupAds Launch to Great Fanfare

November 11, 2008 by

Today, we’re launching MashupAds in private beta. We believe with MashupAds we have a real chance on fixing display advertising, making it an effective, useful and relevant communication and marketing medium, which can stay up to par with search marketing. We think an ad should provide relevant, rich content and that the best way to improve the value of ads for publishers and advertisers is to improve its value to the end users. I think it’s time for advertisers to stop thinking of ads as a broadcast mechanism and start thinking of it as a mechanism to inform, communicate and converse with their medium. Ads are becoming the platform for distributing content and content is the best ad.

Here’s a video our very own Paul Knegten brewed to illustrate what MashupAds are all about:

To read some of the press coverage of our debut check out the links below:

techcrunch , RWW , VentureBeat , zdnet , wired , cnet

and of course, go sign up for some MashupAds goodness

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Dapper Speaking Events

October 7, 2008 by

Hello everyone!

I just returned from the Internet Marketing Conference in Barcelona where I presented Dapper’s MashupAds platform to a great group of marketing experts.  The crowd was engaging and provided a unique European perspective on our advertising offering.  A big thanks to Lennart and Jordi for inviting us to present.  The other presenters were particularly interesting.  I especially enjoyed a presentation about Avail Intelligence‘s offering, which is effectively giving e-commerce sites the ability to provide collaborative filtering services to their users and boost sales dramatically.  The IMC is held in various places around Europe and North America and always has quality presenters – I’d highly recommend attending when it’s in your neighborhood (upcoming events are in Stockholm, Helsinki, and Vancouver).

Up next, I’ll be participating in two panels at the Web 3.0 Conference and Expo in Santa Clara on October 16.  The first panel is called “A Little “mash-up” goes a long and smart(er) way” and the second is called “Monetization Implications of Web 3.0 (Semantic Advertising, etc.)“.  Both of these topics are highly relevant to what we’ve been working on at Dapper.  In the first session, we’ll be discussing how the technologies of the Semantic Web are continuing to evolve and are being applied to mashups.  In the second session, we’ll address business models of the Semantic Web (the other folks on the panel are all from interesting companies and will have great things to share).  I hope to provide a demo of dynamic ad creation using Dapper’s MashupAds.  For those of you interested in the emergence of the Semantic Web and the discussion around all of its various elements from a practical perspective, I’d highly recommend attending the conference.

Oh what a week…

August 8, 2008 by

So, as many of you have noticed, Dapper had a rough week, with dapp serving being down for a few hours and the dapp factory being down for more than a day. The cause of these unfortunate outages, at the end of the day, was a poor choice of ISP way back when. The events of the last week caused us to accelerate our work on a new infrastructure (with much better ISPs) that will have the kind of reliability our users demand of us, and we demand of ourselves.

We would like to truly thank all of our users who had the patience to endure with us as we were handling these unfortunate issues. I’d also like to thank the Dapper team which has worked nights and days on these problems and managed to fix them in record time.

Please stay tuned for some cool updates on our new infrastructure, as they emerge.

If anyone still experiences problems, please let us know as we’re cleaning up the mess,



PS: All Dapps and services should now be fully operational.

Video of Talk at Cognizant in Bangalore

July 30, 2008 by

The kind folks at Cognizant have made available a video of the talk I gave there in May.  I’m a bit long-winded (the talk is almost two hours), but there are some good moments and the crowd asked excellent questions.  Enjoy!

Mashups Made Easy with Dapper

July 18, 2008 by

Tony Loton has just released a new book called Mashups Made Easy with Dapper.  It is available in PDF format as well as paperback.  As an exclusive offer to our users, Tony has made available the first two chapters free of charge.  The book is loaded with examples, tutorials, and step-by-step guides that are relevant to beginners and advanced users alike.

Thanks to Tony for his work in compiling this work.

Easy web application and widget creation with zembly

June 6, 2008 by

Our good friends at zembly have launched the beta of their service today and we’re proud to announce that Dapper and zembly are partners.  According to their website:

“With zembly, you easily create and host social applications of all shapes and sizes, targeting the most popular social platforms on the web. Using just your browser and your creativity, and working collaboratively with others, you create and publish Facebook apps, OpenSocial apps, meebo apps, iPhone apps, Google Gadgets, embeddable widgets, and other social applications.”

From that description alone, it’s fairly obvious how you could use Dapper and zembly together to create great web applications and widgets.  The zembly folks have built in support for using Dapps right within their app and it’s very cool what you can do.  So you can use Dapper to create feeds for any website, and then you can go use those feeds within your code inside zembly.  Very cool.

zembly is truly disruptive. It has the potential to fundamentally change the way developers create portable web applications and widgets. Its collaborative approach, emphasis on reuse of common code, and web-based interface dramatically reduce the barrier for developers to implement and realize their creative ideas. We’re excited that you, the users of Dapper, can now take the Dapps you create and immediately put them to use in new ways with minimal effort using zembly

Go to zembly’s website to apply for an invite into the beta.  If you create things using the service and are making use of Dapps, post it here or let us know by email.

Dapper in Bangalore

May 26, 2008 by

Last week, Dapper made its first visit to India. Having received a kind invitation from the folks at the Great Indian Developer’s Summit, I made my way to Bangalore to talk about the Semantic Web and Dapper’s new server-side mashup framework. Having been to India before, I knew what to expect – a vibrant country teeming with life and excitement, amazing street life, and a world entirely different than any other country.

A busy street in Bangalore\'s Magestic neighborhood

Yet, I had never visited Bangalore and was impressed to see the quality of the high-tech community. Everyone I met was working on great things and was eager to learn about the next great developments.

My first speaking engagement was at Cognizant. A large company with more than 55,000 employees, “Cognizant is a leading provider of information technology, consulting and business process outsourcing services.” I was given the opportunity to speak with a group of Cognizant’s brightest people about the “practical Semantic Web” (what we call “Web Plumbing 101”). Some of you have probably seen us present this talk in the past, but for those of you who haven’t, it focuses on how, using techniques like harnessing the user community and simplicity (REST instead of SOAP, Microformats instead of RDF, etc.), a bunch of companies are helping deliver on the promise of the Semantic Web. The Cognizant audience had great questions about the topics, which for me is always the best indication of interest and understanding. If video of the talk at Cognizant becomes available, I’ll be sure to post it online. For now, here is a photo from the session. Thanks to Dr. Kumar B.V. for inviting me and everyone at Cognizant who attended.

Jon at Cognizant

Following the session at Cognizant, I made my way to the Great Indian Developer Summit. This was the first GIDS and its success is sure to lead to many more. Run by the great folks at Saltmarch Media, Indu Britto and Dilip Thomas, the GIDS was really three conferences in one: two days dedicated to .NET, one day dedicated to the rich web, and another two days dedicated to Java. Hosted at the beautiful Indian Institute of Science campus, over 3,000 people attended throughout the week. I spoke twice on the rich web day, once about the Semantic Web and once about Dapper’s new server-side mashup engine (for those of you interested in the latter, just drop us a note and we’ll be happy to get you access before the official release). Speaking to a crowd of so many bright developers was fantastic. The people who attended the Dapper sessions asked some of the best questions we’ve heard. For those of you who were there, a great many thanks for making the sessions so truly interactive, and thanks as well to Indu and Dilip for the invitation to speak. When photos or video become available of the sessions, I will be sure to post them. In the mean time, here is a shot of some attendees from the main hall:

Attendees at GIDS

I look forward to my next visit to Bangalore.  For those of you who haven’t been, I encourage you to visit.  And for anyone in India or the region, I highly recommend attending next year’s Great Indian Developer Summit.

Scrumming on the Dapper Lawn

May 12, 2008 by

At Dapper, we’ve started the process of deploying Scrum into our dev cycle. To those of you who don’t know, Scrum is an Agile dev methodology flavor (read about it more in wikipedia). That gave us an opportunity to bring the dev team  from both Israel and San Francisco together in the Dapper villa, and take some cool photos. There’s a guest in the picture, see if you can spot him 🙂

Now when you want a feature of want to complain on a bug – you know the faces to hunt down..

The Dapper Team (+guest) is enjoying a relaxed moment in the sun

Downtime for server maintenance

April 17, 2008 by

The Dapper website will be down for about 10 minutes tomorrow, April 18, at 2:00pm PDT for maintenance.  Sorry for any inconvenience!

MashupAds: Advertising on a Semantic Web

April 12, 2008 by

Recently, Alex Iskold of ReadWriteWeb and AdaptiveBlue fame, wrote a great and thorough post about the emergence of semantic web technologies in the various facets of web presence, covering core issues (the famous top-down/bottom-up dichotomy) as well as applicative fields such as search and databases.

One field that was sort of left out is the effect of semantic web technologies on the world of online advertising. Given that much of the web is based on advertising, and it’s probably one of the more technology savvy fields, I venture to say it will embrace the semantic web opportunity wholeheartedly.

How would an ad on the semantic web look? Well, we think we have an idea. We call it “MashupAds”:

MashupAds are dynamic display ads that change when your content changes. The ad takes content from a publisher’s site and mashes it up with content from an advertiser’s site, creating an ad relevant to the user’s browsing experience. MashupAds not only bring content into the ad, but they can bring site functionality as well: say you run a travel site, and you have a form for users to input travel dates and a destination. MashupAds let you port this functionality into to your ad, making the ad simply an extension of the site.

Anyone who’s familiar with Dapper can easily understand why we’re uniquely poised to “unlock” advertisers’ and publishers’ content and allow for the building of more engaging, contextual and relevant ads. In fact, a couple of months ago, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Alex’s RWW colleague, wrote a really great story on MashupAds and why it’s good. Check it out for the broader picture.

The main benefit of MashupAds, I believe, will be to the end-user. He will see ads enhancing his browsing experience, rather than obscuring it. He’ll witness an increase in value from the experience, rather than a decrease. Hopefully, he’ll find these new ads compelling.

We’ll be launching the MashupAds platform in private beta next week at Ad:Tech San Francisco (booths 6083-4). We’re happy to have as our launch partners prominent names in the online marketing world such as EyeBlaster and RAMP digital. We’ll be announcing some additional exciting partners and products in the coming weeks, so do stay tuned.

Happy mashing…

ISP Troubles

April 2, 2008 by

Dear Dapper users,

Due to some serious problems with our ISP, the Dapper website and service are currently experiencing an outage. We are working quickly to resolve the issue with them. More information as it comes, and our apologies for in the inconvenience.

Update: we are back online.  We are truly sorry for the unannounced disruption of service.  If anyone knows of a reliable, high-performance ISP, we’d love to hear your recommendations as we’re losing patience with our provider.

Semantify Hacks – Creating a your own RDF schema using Dapper

March 26, 2008 by

So last Thursday’s release of Semantify was a great success. Marshall Kirkpatrick from RWW  did a great job explaining a rather geeky product in an understandable fashion – thanks Marshall. As we go about semantifying the web, I wanted to point out something that may not be apparent immediately. Basically with Semantify, every Dapp becomes a valid RDF schema that is host on Dapper and can be used anywhere by you, even without Semantify.

Let’s see how using the good old MSN Search Results Dapp. If MSN would’ve deployed Semantify on their search results page (note the irony..), this is what Yaho’s semantic crawler would’ve seen. If you’ll look into the source code of this proxied page, you’ll notice the default RDF schema is defined by the Dapper “dapp-scheme” webservice. While you can choose to override this default schema by defining your own using the $namespace and $scheme variables in the Semantify code snippet, if you don’t, Dapper will use a schema created from your Dapp automatically. So now, building a Dapp means you also built your own RDF compatible schema, that you can use wherever by just pointing to the webservice:

This may be useful for those people who would like to easily generate and use a schema focused around a particular subject where a wide-spread, all-encompassing standard has not emerged, or in cases where the currently available schemes are not good enough.

Finally, let me leave you with the following thought. Up to now, close to 50K APIs have been built using Dapper with hundreds of new ones every day. That means we have under our hands already some 50K schemes for tens of thousands of sites. Hopefully in the near future we’ll start commenting on what can be learned from this set.

Yahoo: Semantic Web is the ultimate SEO strategy! Dapper: Semantify Your Site

March 20, 2008 by

In the last year, Jon and I had the opportunity to present on several occasions our take on the progress and development of the semantic web (next show: Bangalore). During this talk, one of the take home messages we try to convey is that the “limited success” of the semantic web vision has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with economics. Over the last 10 years, Mr. Joe “site owner” has had no incentive to even learn about RDF, let alone go ahead and build his site as semantic web compliant. The most he would be willing to do, and even that is recent, is generate an RSS or two from his home page. Thus, we advocated, semantic web followers should work on generating the incentive, and the rest will follow. Dapper’s success is attributed, to a large extent, to the fact we’re addressing the end-users, who have the incentive to go and make the effort, because they want to build a new RSS/Widget/Mashup etc.

And of course, also attributed to our coding ninjas 🙂

Last Thursday (March 13th, 2008), Yahoo’s search team, led by Amit Kumar, presented a strong and clear incentive for web publishers everywhere to jump on the semantic web bandwagon. By announcing that Slurp (Yahoo’s web crawler) will soon start indexing semantic web information, Yahoo effectively transformed the act of making a site “semantic web compliant” into an SEO strategy, taken into account in their crawling, indexing, scoring and presentation of search results.

Now for most publishers and media companies out there, the budget for “pleasing the geeks” is quite small. However, their SEO budget? Well, that’s a totally different story. As Amit rightfully states: “Without a killer semantic web app for consumers, site owners have been reluctant to support standards like RDF, or even microformats. We believe that app can be web search.” Indeed.

To help site owners make their site semantic web compliant, we’re announcing several tools today. First, we’re announcing the Dapper “Semantify” service – a service that lets you seamlessly create an RDFa version of every page on your site, with virtually zero hassle. When Yahoo’s search engine crawler (or other semantic aware machines) requests a page on a Semantify enabled site, it gets the page augmented inline with the right semantically tagged meta-data. When an end-user requests that page, it gets your usual page. Using the Semantify service, you’ll be able to add meaningful semantics to your site, which in turn will allow Yahoo to better incorporate your content in their search results.

We believe that by removing the technological barrier of re-engineering sites to incorporate semantic information, we will enable a much larger group of publishers to semantify their sites, pushing us further into a world where the semantic web is mainstream.Soon we will also release an RDF transformer that lets you generate an RDF compliant XML as an output of a Dapp. One way in which you can make use of this transformer is by incorporating it as a <link> tag in your pages’ header.

While the road forward is very long, at Dapper we believe that 2008 will be the year where the semantic web will finally have a fighting chance. It is up to us all to make it happen. We hope you will find these new services useful, and we welcome feedback to help us shape their future.

Update: Marshall has written a great blog post about Semantify over at Read/WriteWeb.

Reports on Service Status Move to a New Home

March 19, 2008 by


Dapper’s got a new blog:

The new blog is used to update the community on new technical issues, when they arise, and on Dapper’s service status – and that means that the service status reports will no longer be found here.

If these matters are of interest to you, we’d recommend not to read as a regular blog (it’s not exactly John Grisham), but rather to subscribe to the Service Status, and to read about new issues when you encounter a problem.

Subscribe to the Service Status feed
View current (unresolved) issues
Check if a certain issue you encountered a while back is resolved

Enjoy Dapping,

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

February 25, 2008 by

Well, you begged and pleaded until finally it was easier to sit down and crank out some code than keep hitting the “Delete” button. 🙂

I’m pleased to announce that Dapper now supports drop-down boxes (<SELECT> elements) as input variables. Now when you create a new Dapp and check off “Use as input variable” under a drop-down box, this variable will show up as a drop-down on the Dapp’s “how to use” page. For instance, here’s a Dapp for the Babelfish translation engine:

This seemingly trivial change has involved a lot of code redesign under the hood that will make it easier to add support for other types of form fields, such as radio boxes and checkboxes, which we’ll introduce in the near future.

Check it out and let us know what you think. We depend heavily on your feedback to determine where to focus our efforts, so please continue to let us know of any problems you encounter or any new features you’d like to see. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Peace out,

DapperCamp Wrap-Up

February 7, 2008 by

Dear Campers and Dapper fans,

DapperCamp was a huge success. People flew in from Boston, Portland, San Diego, Mississippi, and New York to participate in our two day event in San Francisco. The excitement in the air was fantastic and we really appreciate everyone’s help in making the event so great. Here are some photos to give you a taste of DapperCamp.

Presentations from DapperCamp

February 5, 2008 by

For your viewing pleasure, all of the presentations given at DapperCamp are online on the DapperCamp wiki, under Presentations.

Partners Speak

February 5, 2008 by

Day 2 @ DapperCamp: Presentations of real-life applications of Dapper and how our partners are helping us take our vision further.  Highlights: Dan Gisolfi from IBM and, pictured below, the guys from MindTouch!