What Is a Web Mashup?

An intro to what mashups are, plus a few examples

A web mashup, or mashup website, is content that's been "mashed up" or mixed together from various sources so it can be shown differently. This is done using a web application that takes information from one or more sources and presents it in a new way or with a unique layout.

Examples of Mashups

An open laptop
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Back when the Nintendo Wii came out, it was difficult to find it in stores. A web mashup might have helped consumers by taking data from various retailers like EB Games and GameStop, along with websites like eBay, and combining their information with Google Maps, so it could all be presented in an easy-to-use interface.

Trendsmap is one example of a popular mashup service. It combined Twitter's trending topics with data from another Twitter trend site and displayed it on a map. Today, though, trends on Trendsmap are calculated through the service's own algorithm.

Many mobile apps also function as mashups. For example, a restaurant app might combine menu information with location data to tell you about what's good to eat at nearby places.

What's So Great About Mashups?

Mashups give people more useful and interesting ways to consume information. Information on its own from a single source is useful, but that usefulness can be enhanced and taken to new levels when combined with one or more related sources.

It's all about how the information from multiple sources interact with each other. You can try to figure out how one piece of information relates to another piece all on your own, but it sure is handy to just have a website or mobile app tell you instantly.

How Is a Web Mashup Built?

The web is continually growing more open and more social. Because of this, many websites open up programming interfaces (APIs) that allow developers to get at their core information.

A prime example of this is Google Maps, which is a very popular interface to use in mashups. Google allows developers to access their maps through API's. The developer can then combine these maps with another stream of data to create something new and unique.

Does a Web Mashup Need Data From Multiple Sources?

The name "mashup" is derived from the idea of combining data from two or more sources and displaying it with a unique look. However, newer mashups sometimes only use a single source of information.

A good example of a mashup with only one source is EmojiTracker, which only pulls data from Twitter. This website looks at all the emojis being used on Twitter in real time and functions as an instant counter for all the different emojis.

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