This article provides answers to questions that are frequently asked about IBM Mashup Center.
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What is a mashup?
A mashup is a lightweight Web application created by combining information or capabilities from more than one existing source to deliver new functions and insights. Mashups typically mash data either to create a new data source or a new application that presents data in a single graphical interface. In a business environment, a mashup typically combines enterprise and Web-based data from an assembly of widgets into a single, dynamic application to address a specific situation or problem.
What are some examples of mashups used in a business environment?
In an enterprise environment, you can use mashups to solve a wide variety of business problems and day-to-day situations. Here are just a few examples of these types of mashups:
- A customer data mashup that provides a quick view of customer data for a sales person in preparation for a customer site visit. Data can be pulled from both departmental and Web-based sources. Can include information such as contact information, links to related Web sites, recent customer orders, lists of critical situations, and more.
- A logistics mashup that displays inventory for a group of department stores based on some sort of criteria. For example, you can mash current storm information onto a map of store locations, and then wire the map to inventory data to show you which stores located in the path of storms are low on generators.
- A human resources mashup that provides a quick glance at employee data such as profiles, salary, ratings, benefits status, dogears, and activities. Can filter data to show only certain pieces of information, for example which employees are paid a certain salary.
Which widgets are provided by default with Lotus Mashups, and what do they do?
Lotus Mashups offers several out-of-the box widgets, for example:
- Regular Expression -- finds and replaces strings within larger strings based on a specified regular expression.
- Web Site Displayer -- displays a Web site based on a specified URL.
- Feed Reader -- displays the content of a feed. Can receive a feed URL from another widget on the page.
- Customer List – a sample Data Viewer widget that is configured with a URL that points to a feed in the catalog. The feed data includes customer names, addresses, zip codes, contact information, ticker symbols, company Web sites, and feed URLs.
- Data Viewer -- organizes and displays content in a table. It can display data from an Atom feed or from a file that contains data in a comma-separated value (CSV) format. Can send both send and receive content.
- Portal -- displays a portal page from a specified IBM WebSphere Portal URL. When users first access the widget in the mashup application, they have to log in with their credentials to display the page.
- Sametime -- allows users to log into IBM Lotus® Sametime Connect and chat with their contacts without having to open the application outside of the mashup page.
- Bar Chart -- displays two or more values from a specified data source as a chart with rectangular bars that represent the values.
- Image -- displays an image that you can upload from a URL.
- Line Chart -- displays values as dots that are connected to form a line on a chart.
- Pie Chart -- displays data in a circle graph divided into pieces. Each piece of the circle represents a value as a percentage of some whole. For example, if a value is 20 units out of 100, the sector takes up 20% of the circle.
- Event Explorer -- displays event data published by a different widget on the page. Has to be wired to the other widget to display event data.
- HTML Markup -- displays a Web page based on HTML code typed or pasted into an editor.
For more information about how to configure these widgets and see useful examples of how you can use them in your mashups, see the widget help in the IBM Mashup Center wiki at http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/mashupswiki.nsf
Creating, assembling, and exploring mashups
What does it mean to wire widgets?
When you wire two widgets, you essentially introduce the widgets to each other and tell them how to communicate. The widgets communicate by passing event data (often called a payload). One widget sends the data, and the other widget receives the data. The sender widget sends data as a result of some event, such as clicking a cell in a table. When the receiver widget receives the content, a designated action takes place, for example a page refreshes and displays updated information.
When you wire two widgets, you can start with the sending widget or the receiving widget. For example, let’s look at two widgets that Lotus Mashups provides out of the box - the Customer List
widget and the Web Site Displayer
widget. You can easily wire the two widgets together so that users can click a customer name in the Customer List
widget and display the customer’s Web site in the Web Site Displayer
widget. In the this case, the Customer List
widget is the sending widget, and the Web Site Displayer
widget is the receiving widget.
What does it mean to configure widgets?
When you configure widgets, you set public properties that define the widget’s characteristics. For example, you can configure widgets to point to a particular file or feed URL so that it knows where to pull data. You can configure style properties that define how the widgets should display in the mashup. Style properties include filtering and sorting information in tables, highlighting rows of data and adding titles, adding colors and images, and more. For more advanced widgets, yo u can create scripts to transform and convert data based on a condition that you specify. Because each widget is unique, the configuration settings vary from widget to widget.
To see some useful configuration tips for the out-of-the-box widgets shipped with Lotus Mashups, see the IBM Mashup Center wiki at http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/mashupswiki.nsf
How do I create a new widget?
The best way to create a new widget is to use the Lotus Widget Factory component of Lotus Mashups. After you create new widgets, you can add them directly to the Lotus Mashups toolbox or publish them to the catalog for others to discover and use.
How can I make my data ″mashable″?
Often times, companies store valuable data in personal documents and departmental sources such as spread sheets, backend databases, and various types of files. In its native form, this data cannot be integrated into a mashup because it cannot send and receive data by passing events and incurring actions.
In order to make the data mashable, you have to transform the data so it can be restructured into a format that can be consumed by other widgets. In MashupHub, you initiate this transformation by creating a feed from the data. After you create the feed, you can simply add it to Lotus Mashups so that it displays data in either the Feed Reader
or Data Viewer
For detailed, step-by-step instructions about how to create a feed from a spread sheet and then add it to a mashup, see Module 3 in the Introduction to creating mashups using IBM Mashup Center
tutorial, located in the IBM Mashup Center wiki at http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/mashupswiki.nsf
How can I use feeds in my mashups?
In Lotus Mashups, you can add widgets that display content from feeds to your mashups. In the catalog, you can create a new feed based on a variety of data sources, or you can use the feed mashup builder to create a feed mashup that consists of operators used to import feed sources and restructure the data.
I see both feeds and feed mashups in MashupHub. What’s the difference between them?
In simple terms, a feed is a stream of XML data that you can display with a feed reader, and a feed mashup is a feed that you manipulate in some way. For example, you can manipulate a feed so that the data that gets displayed is filtered based on some sort of condition. In MashupHub, you create feed mashups using the feed mashup builder. The feed mashup builder includes a set of operators and functions that allow you import feed data, perform operations on the data, and then publish the outcome as a new feed. In the end, feed mashups behave the same way as feeds. You can add feeds to the catalog for others to use, tag, rate, and add comments. You can also add them to Lotus Mashups so that they display feed data in either the Feed Reader
or Data Viewer
Can I add tags, comments, and ratings to widgets?
You can use the catalog to add tags, comments, and ratings to widgets. Simply find the widget in the list of widgets, open the details window, and fill in the tags, ratings, and comments.
How do I remove a widget from my toolbox?
To remove a widget from your toolbox, simply click the menu options icon next to the widget name and select Remove
. Note that this does not delete the Web application from the Lotus Mashups server, however. In order to do this, log into the WebSphere Application Server (WAS) administrative console as an administratrator and do the following steps:
1. In the left navigation area, select Applications > Enterprise Applications
2. In the list of Web applications, find the application that you want to remove and select the check box beside it.
3. Above the list, select Uninstall
4. On the next screen, select Save
. Now your changes will take effect
I just updated a widget WAR file and need to replace it in Lotus Mashups. How do I do this?
After you upload a widget WAR file to the catalog and add it to Lotus Mashups, you may want to update it at a later time. After you make changes to the WAR file and repackage it, you can easily replace the package in the catalog by clicking the widget name and using the Replace Widget
option in the Actions
menu of the edit window. In Lotus Mashups, however, you cannot simply replace the updated widget WAR file. Instead, you must first remove the original widget from the Lotus Mashups toolbox by clicking the icon next to the widget and selecting Remove
, and then use the WebSphere Application Server (WAS) administrative console to delete the Web application from the Lotus Mashups server. Then you can add the new widget to Lotus Mashups from the catalog as you normally would.
To use the WAS administrative console to delete the widget's Web application, do the following steps:
1. From the Start menu, click Programs > IBM Mashup Center > Admin Console
2. In the left navigation area, select Applications > Enterprise Applications
3. In the list of Web applications, find the application that you want to remove and select the check box beside it.
4. Above the list, select Uninstall
5. On the next screen, select Save
. Now your changes will take effect
Note that you can also update the Web application directly from the administrative console. See the WAS documentation for more details.
What is the catalog, and how can I access it?
The catalog is a repository for storing, sharing, discovering, and reusing mashups objects -- feeds, mashup pages, and widgets. The catalog initially contains a set of sample objects that are included with MashupHub. You can also publish your own objects in the catalog. You can then combine the objects to create pages with other mashup applications.
To open the catalog from Lotus Mashups, open the actions menu at the top of the Lotus Mashups browser and click Open Catalog
. When MashupHub opens in a separate browser, go to the Catalog
How can I post mashups to the catalog?
You can post mashups to the catalog by publishing mashup pages. You can either publish the URL of the page on the Lotus Mashups server or you can upload the entire page definition and all its artifacts, including all the properties you have set for that page as well as all the widgets on the page, including their configurations and wiring properties.
To publish a mashup page to the catalog, do the following steps:
1. At the top of the Lotus Mashups browser, open the page menu.
2. Select Publish this page
3. In the window, fill in the title , description, and version number. Also specify tags and permissions. Finally, select either of the following options:
- Publish page as URL -- select this option to reference the mashup page as a fully qualified URL. No files are downloaded. When users access the page in the catalog and add it to Lotus Mashups, they will see the new entry in their page navigation that points to the server copy of the page. They will not be able to modify it. Note that they will not be able to see the page at all if you have not given them viewing permission.
- Publish page definition and artifacts -- select this option to upload the mashup page package as a ZIP file. When users access the page in the catalog and add it to Lotus Mashups, the page definition and all the artifacts associated with the page, including preferences, get deployed and installed on the Lotus Mashups server. A new page node is created, and the user now have owner privileges.
- Click Save.
Now confirm that you published the page correctly by tabbing over to the catalog, clicking List Pages
in the Catalog
section, and finding your page in the list.
You can also post mashups to the catalog by uploading the page from the catalog itself.
How can I add mashup pages from the catalog to Lotus Mashups?
As you are building mashups, sometimes you may want to reuse and extend mashups that others have created and posted to the catalog as mashup pages. You can do this by finding mashup pages using the open search feature in Lotus Mashups. To find and add a mashup page to your page navigation using the open search feature, do the following steps:
1. At the top right corner of the Lotus Mashups browser, click the search icon .
2. In the window, type your search critieria, and click the search icon.
3. When the search results display, click Add to Toolbox
4. In the window, specify where to add the page to your page navigation. You can add it as a child page of any existing page.
5. Click Done
. Now confirm that you successfully added the page by finding the page in your page navigation.
You can also add mashup pages to Lotus Mashups directly from the catalog.
How can I add feeds from the catalog to Lotus Mashups?
As you are building mashups, sometimes you may want to reuse and extend feeds that others have created and posted to the catalog. You can search for feeds in the catalog in a couple of different ways. First, you can use the Lotus Mashups open search feature. This allows you to search for feeds and add them to your toolbox without actually opening the catalog. Second, you can click the Add a widget
icon in the toolbox to open the catalog and search for feeds there.
To find and add a feed to your toolbox using the open search feature, do the following steps:
1. At the top right corner of the Lotus Mashups browser, click the search icon
2. In the window, type your search critieria, and click the search icon.
3. When the search results display, highlight the widget you want to add to Lotus Mashups.
4. Click Add to Toolbox
5. Specify the drawer, the widget to display the feed, and the title and description. Also select the icon that best represents the widget.
6. Click Add
Now confirm that you successfully added the feed by finding it in your toolbox.
How do I access mashups that others have shared with me?
When mashup owners share their mashups with you, you can retrieve them from the actions menu at the top of your Lotus Mashups browser. preview them, and optionally add them to your page navigation. If they have given you view access, you can only view the mashup. If they have given you editing access, you can open the page in edit mode and modify the widgets.
To access a mashup that a mashup owner has shared with you, do the following steps:
1. At the top of the Lotus Mashups browser, click the actions menu.
2. In the list, select View More Pages
3. In the More Pages
dialog box, click a page name to preview the page in a separate browser, or click Add
to add the mashup page to your page navigation.
When you add a page, the page name displays as the last item in the top level of your page navigation. You can move it around in your page navigation just the same as you would move other pages.
How do I remove widgets that I’ve added to my mashup?
After you drag widgets onto your page, you can easily delete them afterwards. To delete a widget, simply click the menu icon at the top right corner of the widget window and select Delete
. Notes® that this permanently deletes the widget as well as any wires that are connected to it.
What do I do if I don’t want all the widgets in my mashup to display?
Sometimes you will want to add widgets to your mashup but not display them on the page. For example, let’s say you simply need to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit in a data string, or perhaps you just need to transform some data using the Data Editor
, or Regular Expression
widgets. You will need to add those widgets to your mashup page, but you probably do not want them to display in view mode. In this case, you can easily hide the feed reader widget in the hidden widgets corral. The hidden widgets corral is an area on a page for placing widgets that you want to be available for other widgets on the page but do not want to display in the mashup. Typically, the hidden widgets corral contains nonvisual widgets that are used to provide or modify content.
To hide the widget, simply click the menu option icon at the top right corner of the widget you want to hide and select Hide
. At that point, the widget disappears from the page. You can also drag widgets directly from the toolbox and drop them onto the hidden widgets corral icon, located on the right side of the toolbox.
How can I customize the layout of my pages?
As you build mashups, you may want to customize the layout of your page. Lotus Mashups features two main layouts -- free form and columnar. As the name suggests, a free form layout allows you to set properties for the entire canvas area, including background color, background images, and page border. It also lets you specify which skin you want to use as the default skin for widgets. A column layout allows you to configure all those same properties but also properties for columns to your page. When you add columns, you can select the number of columns to display on the page (three is the maximum), specify the width between columns, and set column background colors and borders.
To switch between the two layouts, open the page menu and select either FreeFrom Layout
or Column Layout
in the Layout
field. To set properties for each layout, select the layout icon on the right side of the toolbox and set properties as desired. Be sure to save your page so you don’t lose your changes.
How do I share mashups with my co-workers?
You can share mashups with both individual users as well as groups of users in your company. When you share a mashup, you share the page that contains the mashup. When users you have shared the page with open Lotus Mashups, they can choose whether ot not to add that page to their navigation. You can give those users either viewing or editing access. If they have viewing access, they can only view the mashup. If they have editing access, they can add, delete, configure, and wire widgets. However, they cannot share the mashup page with others since they are not the owner.
To share a mashup, do the following steps:
1. At the top of the Lotus Mashups browser, open the page menu.
2. Select Share this page
3. In the Access Level
window, use the search field to add individual users and groups to the Search Results
list (this list appears after you click the search button).
4. In the Search Results
list, select the check boxes beside the individuals and groups with whom you want to share your mashup.
5. Click Add to View
to give the selected users view access, and click Add to Edit
to give the selected users edit access.
After you add users and groups to lists. you can select and clear the check boxes as desired to provide and remove access.