Friday, February 02, 2007

A mashup example: adding audio to this blog

We talk about composite applications or mashups in class. This blog serves as an example.

There is a link at the bottom of each post that reads listen to this article, and, in the right-hand column, there is a link reading Audio RSS Feed.

If you follow the first link, you will hear a slightly stilted sounding woman reading the text of the article. The program that does this text to speech conversion is quite complex and requires a fast computer, but that complexity is hidden. A server at does the conversion and the link to that service required adding only one line of HTML code to the blog template.

Adding the RSS feed converts the blog to a podcast. A user who subscribes to the RSS feed will automatically receive spoken recordings of articles when they are posted. Again, this complex feature was added with a single line of HTML code in the blog template.

Adding these audio features brought the blog into compliance with university regulations on accessibility by blind people. Doing so took only a few minutes because of the simple API exposing the service at

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