Live Mesh and Me

by Matt 20. June 2008 18:16

Firstly, I’d just like to point out that I’m on the train. And on the Internet. The modern world continues to amaze and bedazzle me.

But what I really wanted to talk about was Live Mesh. I’ve finally got my invite (thought not through www.sharemesh.com surprisingly), installed it, played with it, and yes, it works lovely. It’s all file-syncing goodness. It’s all, well, it’s all a little bit underwhelming actually. It’s just not terribly exciting.

And then I watched the Channel 9 video with Ori Amiga on programming Live Mesh, and it blew my head off. The potential here is really powerful stuff. It’s a platform, and you’ve got several ways of working with it:

  1. Just use the file system, and let Live Mesh worry about the synchronisation. You can make the minimum of changes to your application (perhaps add a file watcher) and still enable collaborative working.
  2. Query Live Mesh via a REST interface – http to the Live Mesh service. And now you can store your data in a more structured manner, directly within Mesh. Partition your data up into Atom feed entries, and Bob’s your uncle.
  3. Query Live Mesh via a REST interface on your desktop. This is a killer. You can make exactly the same http calls as you would to the Live Mesh service, but they are all non-network calls of the Mesh Operating Environment (cutely known as MOE) that runs locally on your machine, and which has all of the data of the online service locally, because, hey, that’s what Live Mesh does. And any changes you make to your local data store are automatically replicated up to the cloud.

The really big thing that hit me during this was the idea that Live Mesh can now be a generic application data store, shared by all local applications. We’ve seen this idea before. Well, nearly seen it. I’m going to come back to this.

And then, of course, Apple announce Mobile Me, which is, yep, a synchronisation platform. It’s the typical story; Microsoft announce a grand new vision to build a fantastic generic platform, and along comes Apple (or someone) and simply releases the working end application – something that just does the job.

And Mobile Me is very similar in terms of features. It does the whole sync thing – mail, contacts, calendar, photos, files, bookmarks, system (Mac) preferences, cross platform and phone (iPhone) – everything that Microsoft have promised, if not delivered.

So does that mean Live Mesh isn’t important?

Well, we’ll see. But I think Live Mesh has an edge – and that’s the API. It’s a platform, not an application. And by enabling developers to create applications with built-in cloud storage, personal synchronisation, collaborative working, structured data shared between local apps (I love this one), or devices that are actually online services such as Flickr or Facebook, well, they might just be on to something.

(And I’m no longer on the train. Mobile broadband modem died. It would appear that the modern world is not quite as amazing and bedazzling as I’d thought.)

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