Live Clipboard in Operator

So this post Interesting Developments with Microformats from Mozilla and Microsoft at wizardishungryblog brings up the Live Clipboard support in Operator. I thought I would use this post to talk a little about Live Clipboard – what it is and why it is in Operator.

For those that don’t know, at its core, Live Clipboard is an XML wrapper around particular microformats that allows those microformats to be easily exchanged between applications. There is more to it than that, but I’ll leave that investigation up to the reader. What Operator supports is copying the hCard and hCalendar microformats to the Live Clipboard.

Along with the Live Clipboard concept, Microsoft has come up with a UI paradigm that involves placing a small orange icon anywhere on your page where you want a user to copy or paste data. Behind this icon is some JavaScript and other magic that interacts with the system clipboard. You would use this icon to copy the data from one site and then paste it on another site. The idea is that this will eliminate the “cloud of links” that many sites have to send data to other sites by providing one UI paradigm to move data like events and addresses from site to another. If you want to see an example of this icon, check out any event at eventful.com. The ironic part is that eventful.com chose to add the Live Clipboard icon to the “cloud of links!” (Incidentally, this is why you get two Operator entries for every event on eventful.com – Operator is detecting the microformat in the item and the microformat used for Live Clipboard.)

The approach that Operator is taking is really about taking the burden away from web developers as it relates to connecting with other sites, services and applications. Web developers shouldn’t have to add JavaScript to their site or understand some other sites API in order to provide functionality to their users. They should simply be able to mark up their sites using microformats and let the web browser (or in this case Operator) worry about what to do with the data.

But if Live Clipboard is successful, support is already available in Operator, so there is no need to update existing websites, except to add microformats (which you should be doing anyway).

Incidentally, the first application to support Live Clipboard (for hCalendar at least) is Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer. A plugin has been created called Event Plugin that adds Live Clipboard support. Using this plugin, we can immediately see the benefit of Live Clipboard support in Operator.

The Event Plugin is designed to connect to eventful.com – it provides the ability to search eventful.com from within Windows Live Writer. Because of the Live Clipboard support in Operator, I can go to any site that has an event marked up using the hCalendar microformat and paste it into Windows Live Writer:

What: Web 2.0 Expo
When: Monday, December 18, 2006 1:27 PM
Where: Moscone West

4th &Howard
San Francisco, California 94103

That event came from upcoming.org. (I’m using Windows Live Writer to write this post.)

So the final question then is why did I choose to add Live Clipboard support to Operator? The answer is because I could. Adding Live Clipboard required literally no effort at all and I thought it was an interesting feature to have. The Live Clipboard can be used to show Operator integration with Windows Live Writer as well as the live Clipboard demos. My goal was to show microformats interacting with various web APIs and Live Clipboard is one of those APIs.

Up next: adding new microformats to Operator.