Archive for the ‘Dapper Features’ Category

Big Update to Dapp Factory

November 26, 2008

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).

Semantify Hacks – Creating a your own RDF schema using Dapper

March 26, 2008

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

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.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

February 25, 2008

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,

NDF (New Dapper Features)

January 15, 2008

We’ve recently introduced a couple of cool features we’d like to let you know about. Both have been highly coveted by users and as part of the “Dapper Listens” program, we’ve finally got to them 🙂

First, we’ve introduced an updated Dapp search, that allows you to preview live content retrieved from the Dapp, and get an immediate intuition whether this Dapp is good for you or not. It also notifies you if the site this Dapp is based on has changed, allowing you to immediately go and edit the Dapp, so it will be adapted to the current site features. We believe this feature will make searching for Dapps a much more useful and enjoyable experience. Enjoy!

Secondly, we’ve finally introduced a forum system for all things Dapper: In these forums you can share your latest Dapper based hacks, seek support and suggest the next Dapper feature you crave for. Go ahead and let your voice be heard.

These small updates lead the way to an upcoming release to take place within the month dubbed the “Virtual Navigator”. This release will be a major breakthrough and a huge technological milestone for Dapper, where we’ll introduce the ability to work on pretty much any site on the web (flash based sites excluded). We are extremely excited about this release and are looking forward to share it with you. At the moment, this release is being tested in private beta by a group of devoted Dapper users. If you’re interested in testing it, drop us a note, and we’ll add you to group of testers as it grows.



Get Your Own Branded Dapp Factory

October 29, 2007

For those of you interested in offering Dapper as a service to your users, we just made it possible! Imagine, for example, that you have a site that allows your users to import RSS feeds for one purpose or another. What happens if there is no RSS feed for the content a user wants to import? Using the white labeled Dapp Factory, you can offer your users the ability to create a feed for any site and then import it into your site, without feeling like they’ve left your website. The white labeled Dapp Factory can be customized to include your logo, styling (via CSS), and wording. For more information, check out the white labeled Dapp Factory page or contact us to apply.

Better Support for Tables

June 8, 2007

Some of you have noticed that we introduced a powerful new feature recently: better support for tables. Now when you click on data inside a table on a website, a little table icon appears next to the table and up in the toolbar, allowing you to enter “table mode.” Table Mode provides a spreadsheet-like interface for selecting cells, columns, and rows. It supports column and row headers as well, which makes it easy to name fields according to the headers inside the table.

The best way to understand this new feature is to check out the following screencast.

As always, if you have feedback, comments, suggestions, or bug reports, please let us know.

RSS filtering is the new black

May 14, 2007

As many of our users know (and use), one of Dapper’s main strengths is the ability to get relevant content feeds by providing search terms to virtually any service on the web. But sometimes, that’s not enough, and for these situations, we’re introducing a new transformer called “Filtered RSS feed“. This is your usual RSS feed transformer, with a twist: you can define (case sensitive) keyword based filters to the title and the description of the RSS stories. Here are a couple of cool examples:

Traffic jam RSS feeds: Traffic jam RSS for 94102 , Same RSS feed, giving only reports for Hwy-101

Public companies recommendations from Reuters: All analysts recommendations, Same RSS feed, giving only “Buy” recommendations

We hope you’ll find it useful. If you’re a developer and want to extend it, feel free to give it a try. On that note, one of our users (thanks, pascal vanheckea) found Dapper useful enough to create a cool Dapper instruction video.

You know you’ve made it when your users are video-taping 🙂

Image Support in RSS Feeds

May 8, 2007

Many of you have asked for Dapper-created RSS feeds to support images.  We’re pleased that we rolled out support for this today.  If you find any bugs or have any additional requests, let us know.

And if you create any particularly cool RSS feeds using images, post them to the comments.

Improvements to Frames

May 3, 2007

For those of you who have been frustrated in your attempts to create Dapps for sites that contain frames, we’ve released a solution today.  Though it doesn’t address everything, it does go a long way to making Dapper usable on sites with frames.  Please give it a shot and let us know what you think.  As always, your feedback is very valuable to us.

PageFlakes and Better Google Gadgets

May 3, 2007

PageFlakes users rejoice!  We’ve released a transformer for PageFlakes which should make integration with your start page easier.  To try it out, find any Dapp and select PageFlake from the drop down.

Today we also improved the Google Gadget transformer to include support for omitting labels, adding an input form into the gadget, and various visual improvements.  You can use Google Gadgets on iGoogle, Google Desktop, or on any website.

Please let us know if you find any problems or have any features you’d like to see implemented.  We promise more updates are on the way.

DapperFox: RSSify the Web

March 5, 2007

DapperFox Logo

Today we’re releasing DapperFox, a Firefox extension for RSS lovers. It allows you to create an RSS feed for any website you’re browsing as well as preview and subscribe to feeds other Dapper users have created. As a bonus, it also shows you the Dapps that exist for the site you’re on.

DapperFox, along with the power of its community, brings thousands of RSS feeds to your fingertips, even for sites that don’t have their own feeds. Feeds you create are shared with others (unless you make your Dapp private), thus creating an exciting network effect in which everyone benefits. Before long, every site will have an RSS feed.

We hope this will also make the process of creating RSS feeds (and Dapps) for website faster adn easier, by allowing you to do so while you’re on the site. In the coming months, we’ll be releasing additional exciting features to DapperFox, so check for updates and, as always, please provide us with your feedback.

Happy RSSing!

PS: Check out Mashable’s writeup about DapperFox.

CSV Transformer

January 4, 2007

A long standing request from many users has been the ability to get data from all over the web in a format easily imported into spreadsheets. We’re happy to announce that we’ve released a CSV (comma separated value) transformer that allows you to take the output of any Dapp and import it into any spreadsheet, like Excel or Swivel. Let the data flow, and as always, let us know if you have any trouble or additional feature requests.

Dapper: Empowering Content Providers

August 26, 2006

It’s been an exciting week for Dapper. We got great publicity, lots of positive feedback, many users, and much interest by individuals and businesses alike. It seems that people truly understand what our service offers, and how it empowers them in creating new mash-ups, web services, web widgets, and more.

Moving forward, our vision is to empower content providers to distribute (or not distribute) their content according to their wishes through Dapper. We regard content providers as our most important partners because it is their content that makes Dapper such a valuable service. We believe they stand to benefit greatly from Dapper and its future offerings.

In the near future, we will provide far greater control to content providers over their content. Not only is it cool, it’s also the right thing to do, and it will benefit everyone in the end. The first step is this form, through which content owners can choose to opt-out of Dapper. However, what we have planned is much more than the on / off switch represented by this system. We aim to empower content providers by enabling them to sell their content through Dapper with little or no effort. We’d like content users to be able to use any content they want in a legal and legitimate manner, and to, in turn, be able to compensate the content providers for their hard work, again with little or no effort.

Content providers and content users will finally be able to work together, with minimal effort on both sides, while respecting the rights of the creators and providing a means to compensate them. Please stick with us as we build out this new system and do not hesitate to provide your thoughts and insights- they are extremely valuable and appreciated.