In the read/write era, enterprise technology has been playing catchup with the consumer sector, integrating social networking, wikis and activities streams into business-grade applications. But that hasn't always been the case - look at the evolution of e-mail, which was originally nurtured by enterprises. And there's at least one area in which enterprises are leading the pack today: point-and-click app creation and the data mashups that feed them.

The easy creation of apps and mashups are particularly of value to enterprises as they enable an organization to vet, purchase and deploy an app platform once and then let users create the tools they need - so long as the platform is able to guarantee enterprise-grade compliance. In a blog post titled "Are enterprise mashups the Excel of our era?" Heather Havenstein wrote in 2008:

Users have a long laundry list of projects they need to get done that typically fall below the radar of IT, which is usually distracted with much bigger problems like keeping the lights and pipes on and developing massive back-office applications.

Mashups allow users to get this laundry list of needs met more quickly without the delays or costs commonly associated with going the normal route through IT.

The new version of KickApps Studio will support drag and drop authoring of data driven and multimedia iPhone/iPad ready HTML5 apps, KickApps Corporation announced today. The new functionality will compliment the platform's drag-and-drop Flash authoring tools.


KickApps Studio screenshot

KickApps Studio, launched two years ago and, is capable of various data mashup functionality, is mostly focused on marketing, not on internal use. JackBe, on the other hand, is focused on internal app use. We covered their internal app store platform recently. The company's products, revolving around Presto Hub, are dedicated to creating secure, enterprise-grade apps from a point-and-click environment.

Adam Greenfield, author of Everyware and outgoing head of design direction for service and user-interface design at Nokia, mocked-up his vision for a consumer-oriented app creation and data mashup platform he called "Momcom" in response to Google App Inventor. Greenfield's concept is a simple, point-and-click interface for creating mobile apps powered by data mashups.

Compare Greenfield's mock-up above with this screenshot of JackBe's Presto Wires:

Visual programming has a long history, starting with perhaps Pygmalion and popularized by educational languages like Squeak and the audio and multimedia language MAX/MSP. But thanks to projects like Yahoo! Pipes and Lily, it's a paradigm that's regaining popularity.

Visual mashup app programming faces many obstacles: performance, usability (both for the creation and use of apps) and access to the data and APIs needed. The latter problem, at least, is being worked on by various companies. Mashery is helping companies create APIs. Dapper (which seems to be more focused display advertising now) and Kapow, for example, scrape data from sites that don't have XML feeds and offers it up in a variety of formats.

As we've previously reported, mashups are the most popular "web 2.0" technology in enterprises, and Forrester estimates the enterprise mashup market will be worth $700 Million by 2013.