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Popfly, Microsoft's Web mashup and gadget tool, reaches beta

Popfly, Microsoft's Silverlight-powered tool for building Web mash-ups and Windows Vista gadgets, is now available as a public beta.

Popfly, Microsoft's Silverlight-powered tool for building Web mash-ups and gadgets, is now available as a public beta, Microsoft announced at the Web 2.0 Summit.

With a design-centric interface that gathers chunks of code into so-called "Silverlight blocks," which users can drag and drop without hard coding,

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Popfly caters primarily to non-professional developers.

Earlier this month, during the keynote address at ReMIX07 Boston, a demo showed that Popfly comes with more than 70 components. However, programmers familiar with HTML, CSS or JavaScript can write custom code within Popfly.

Popfly first appeared in May as a private alpha. Not long after, Microsoft announced a partnership with the social networking site Facebook, letting Facebook users customize their profiles using Popfly. As part of the beta release, users can publish Popfly applications directly to Facebook.

Other social networking sites now offering custom Popfly blocks include Twitter and Dapper, Microsoft said. Meanwhile, a component for searching for and calling up images from photo-sharing site Flickr is built into Popfly, Microsoft indicated in its ReMIX07 keynote.

In addition to customizing social networking sites, the public beta of Popfly supports the development of Windows Vista Sidebar gadgets and Windows Live gadgets.

Updated Oct. 22, 2007 -- Several more bits of Popfly news emerged in the days following the public beta release. Here are a few. If you know of any more, send them along.

  • Christoph Schittko has a nice post about creating Popfly blocks with Visual Studio 2008. The Popfly environment is fine for non-professional developers, but, for anyone who wants to build a custom code block, it won't do, Schittko said. Thankfully, he pointed out, Visual Studio 2008 works quite well: "Write the code in VS, paste it into the Popfly editor and off you go."
  • Dan Fernandez, Microsoft's lead program manager for non-professional tools like Popfly and Visual Studio Express, offers quick links to Ten Silverlight applications that work with Popfly. These include news headline and stock quote aggregators for the office and Halo 3 and World of Warcraft aides for the home.
  • Eric Griffin pointed out that his book, Foundations of Popfly: Rapid Mashup Development from Apress, should be on bookstore shelves in early 2008.
  • Finally, the SharePoint group at Microsoft announced in its blog that Popfly blocks for SharePoint are in the works. Blocks will cover SharePoint objects such as Picture Library, Events List and Contacts List.

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