Microsoft released Popfly, a new mashup tool, in private alpha today. There are around 50 predefined blocks which can be dragged to the design surface where the blocks are connected to create a new mashup. Popfly is kind of a foolproof, slick version of Yahoo! pipes based on the Silverlight browser plugin. For geocoding there is a predefined block GeoNames to access geonames.org web services. Here a screen shot from the tutorial :

The GeoNames block supports five operations, all of which are restricted to the US:

  1. getLatitudeAndLongitude : geocoding, returns lat/lng
  2. lookupOnPlaceName : geocoding, returns lat/lng and place info
  3. lookupOnZipCode : geocoding with zipcode
  4. lookupOnCityState : geocoding with US state and city
  5. lookupOnLatitudeLongitude : reverse geocoding (findNearbyPostalCodes)

TechCrunch writes about Popfly : “Microsoft are the latest entrants in this market, and they have completely leapfrogged every other application we have seen so far.

John Montgomery, the GPM of Popfly, is blogging about the Genesis of Popfly.

Watch the demo screen cast to see how easy it is to geocode the location of twitter users and display it on VirtualEarth. (WMV, Quicktime)
Not only if Popfly a funny toy it also has the potential to help web service providers monetize their services. It is still difficult if not impossible to combine web services with advertisements. A centralized mashup platform like Popfly could include ads in the presentation layer and share revenues with the mashup creator and the web service providers. Is Popfly going to be the google adsense killer the world is desperately waiting for?

geocoded Hotels

May 11, 2007

Over 70.000 geocoded hotels have been added to the geonames data base. This new hotel data is provided by various hotel booking systems. So far geonames.org is working together with three hotel booking systems : hotels.com, diytravel and laterooms. Data from other providers will follow.

The information window displayed on top of the map or satellite view has gotten a new tabulator with the hotel address. The address information is also available for other points of interests like the recently added Raiffeisen Bank branches in Switzerland. Included in the daily geonames dump are the name of the hotel, latitude, longitude and all other information available for geonames toponyms. Not yet included is address information. The hotel data addition is part of an ongoing geonames initiative to make more Points Of Interests available.

The challenge in this task was to integrate and match data from various data providers. Names and addresses of hotels as well as data quality may vary dramatically among providers and it is often difficult to figure out whether two hotels are actually the same hotel or not.

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