Visual Mashup Maker MashupMania Reviewed

MashupMania Logo

Not a code monkey? MashupMania tries to make it as easy as pie to create a mashup using visual elements that are more like puzzle pieces. No coding required. I’ll come right out and say that the first time I tried to load this site, FireFox almost vomited all over itself. Thankfully, it didn’t crash.

The Site Design:

One of the first things you should notice is the Web 1.0 design elements. White background, web 1.0 button links, scroll bars and weird design elements. However, I have to give these folks credit for adding the beta logo in the top left hand corner and the blue TRY NOW badge. Not to mention, the black content bars have rounded corners. Let’s call the design, Web 1.5.

Upon visiting the homepage, I was knocked to the floor by the WTF do I do feeling. After taking a few wild guesses, I found out that the link to the MashupMaker was called ‘Widgeteria‘. Either I’m dumb or that’s not the greatest piece of text you could use to label that section of the site.

The Nitty Gritty:

I did manage to check out the tutorial thats posted on the front page of the site. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any audio attached to it. It would of been much nicer if the tutorial was actually a walkthrough of the site and offered up audio that described what it was the Widgeteria did. You do however, get a taste of how the site works.

MashupMania Is A Mess

This is a small sample of what you’ll be greeted with once you enter the Widgeteria. In all honesty, it’s a mess, with draggable windows all over the place and no real starting point. Thank god their is a CLEAR button on the top options bar.

Once the area was cleared off, I decided to take a look at the Library. The library contains a list of pre-made widgets that can be customized to suit your needs without having to start from scratch. For the purpose of this review, I selected the RSS FEED 2 option.

Widget Library

After selecting RSS FEED 2, a box popped up which allowed me to type in an RSS feed URL. After putting in my FeedBurner address, the parser on the right hand side of the site was filled up with my blog posts. Not knowing what to do with the widget now, I choose to save it. Clicking the SAVE button opens up a new dialog box that gives me the options of giving the widget a name, and then a short description. After saving my Widget, I noticed it shows up in the library for anyone else to use.

When your finished tinkering around with your widget, click on the EXPORT button. The dialog box lets you know that before you can export your work, you have to save the widget. MashupMania then provides you a block of code which you then have to embed into your site. In my case, it was a block of javascript code within an Iframe.

I tried posting the code that MashupMania gave to me into the WordPress Text editor in CODE View and for whatever reason, everything in the WordPress text editor disappeared. I had to refresh the page a few times while constantly clicking on the CODE tab in order to delete the javascript. I did mange to see what the widget looked like on the page before it borked and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, I’m not even sure what it was I posted.

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those reviews that I couldn’t wait to get over with.

The Good:

  • Great Idea/Concept
  • For those that can figure it out, it could be one hell of a service for you
  • The FAQ section of the site

The Bad:

  • The site makes FireFox crap on itself
  • The site design is not user-friendly
  • Messing around in the widget area is a SLOW process
  • The video tutorial on the front page does little to help a noob.
  • Knowing what the hell your doing is almost impossible
  • The first visit to the Widgeteria greets you with a ton of crap you don’t need

At times, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. Making the creation of a widget as a step by step process with an explanation as to what THIS or THAT does might of made for a better experience. I think the idea of being able to create a widget without touching any code is great, but doing it the way MashupMania has it setup is a painstaking process that made me wish I knew how to code. This is my opinion and your experience and opinions may vary. If you decide to give this site a try, let me know how it went.

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