Swaroop C H

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Widget for Webaroo Gupshup

30 May 2007

Microblogging seems to be the rage these days, so I was looking at Indian alternatives to Twitter, and I found Webaroo Gupshup (later I realized that I had already received an invite but hadn't paid attention to it).

Gupshup seems to hit the sweet spot in the Indian context because its all about sms and mobile phones and combines it with the web. For example, you can start your own group and update your microblog via sms, and it'll be automatically forwarded (as sms) to all those who subscribe to your channel. The posts are also available on a webpage. The added viral/social features are the ability to conduct your own polls or quizzes and even ratings.

I signed up for Gupshup and created my own microblog located at http://sms.webaroo.com/channels/Swaroop.

This got me thinking how people actually promote their microblog, and it turns out that one of the important things is a widget on their blog that points to the microblog, especially the Twitter badge.

So, I was looking for a widget for Gupshup as well but couldn't find one. Why not write one myself?

It seemed pretty easy to create it using Flex because Gupshup now has RSS feeds. And just a hour and half of tinkering got me to create this:

I've put up the source MXML file for those interested. The tough work is handled by the <mx:HTTPService> tag which fetches the feed and outputs an XML which is easy to handle thanks to E4X. The rest is just housekeeping code.

Note that you'll need your own proxy php script because of the security restrictions of the Flash player.

Somewhat relatedly, I got an invite to Popfly, thanks to Sriram, which helps anybody to create exactly these kind of widgets.

It turned out to be even easier to achieve it using Popfly:

  1. Create a mashup
  2. Click RSS block to add it to the main area
  3. Edit to add the address of the RSS feed of your choice
  4. Click News Reader block to add it to the main area
  5. Connect the RSS block to the News Reader block
  6. Click Save

You're done. Here's what you get:

Note that you might need Microsoft Silverlight installed to view this.

The upside is that it is ridiculously easy to create your own such mashups/widgets. The downside is that it is not easy to achieve the look and feel that you specifically want, it tends to all look the same (like the omnipresent Kubrick theme for Wordpress). For example, on my computer, the Popfly widget appears with scrollbars, and I can't figure out how to get rid of the scrollbars.

About microblogging itself, I am not sure how long I'll be into it, I'm just trying it out to see what's all the fuss about.

Comments

Swaroop says:

@Kirti: Thanks for the details... yeah, I still have to get used to the concept of microblogging :)

Harsha says:

The microblogging stuff needs some patience and a lot of time. Besides it can be used for spam.

Swaroop says:

@Manoj : Sorry, I had not tested the widget on a computer without Silverlight installed.

@Harsha : You said it.

Swaroop says:

@Sriram: Good to know that the scrollbar issue and the install page redirection issues will be fixed, great :) ... I should check out the 'rip' option, that sounds interesting.

Sriram Krishnan says:

Btw, in the next update, a lot of the blocks will resize themselves automatically. This should fix your problem automatically

Sriram Krishnan says:

Thanks for trying out Popfly :)

The iframe scrollbar turns up because the content doesn't fit in the size given. Modify the iframe tag's width and height. Popfly does a bad thing today by automatically suggesting 100% for both. I got your mashup to render without scrollbars by setting width to 200 and height to 230 on my computer. There are of course other ways to make iframe scrollbars disappear.

As for the common appearance, why settle for the ordinary? :) Go to My Page->Create a block (it should be on the left side). Now, find the NewsReader block and 'rip' it. You can now modify the block to your heart's content.

The block editing experience isn't great right now (that's why we have a downloadable SDK) but you should be able to get the look you wanted.

@Manoj - The fact that it yanks you away to the Silverlight page is a bug that we already know about. We will have this fixed the next time we push our bits to our production servers (in 2 weeks or so). I know it's kinda painful right now - sorry!

Thejesh GN says:

Does GupShup has web interface for posting or is it only through SMS. How much does this SMS cost?

Swaroop says:

@Thejesh: There's no web interface. I don't think GupShup charges anything, only your normal sms costs apply.

Manoj says:

I was wondering, when I open this page, it kept on going to the silverlight page, without even telling that you need silverlight. Anyway, good read and simple demo. Popfly thing didn't impress much, thanks to the scrollbar.

Twitter « Meaningful Nonsense says:

[...] India, alternatives are present like Webaroo [via] but none are offering free sms I somehow feel, if such a service comes up (( Inactiv in [...]

Kirti says:

Hey Swaroop,

Saw the comments and felt should post.Just wanted to let ppl know that we don't charge anything for the SMS. The service provider charges anything between Rs.1-3 for the SMS. Also in the future, we are looking at allowing ppl to send out msgs via the website itself.

Um..personal query..your last post was 10 days back, any reason why u haven't posted in the interim period. Do get back. Thanks for the post :D

Naveen goyal says:

if any one allow you to send a message to say 50000 or more peple in just 1to3 rs. then i think its like a free!!!!!and webaroo is doing this and ya these charge are taken by ur service provider not by webaroo.....

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