Ray Ozzie’s clipboard for the web

Ray Ozzie’s new idea is a clipboard for the web. A brief summary of the idea follows; it’s fully explained on Ray’s blog, with screen casts. I watched #1 and #3.

Narrative

Let’s say you have two sites both of which understand calendar data. I want to move an appointment from one site to another. In Ray’s scheme, there’s now an icon on each site, next to each piece of data that can be transported. The icon is a picture of a scissor. Bring site A to the front, click on the scissor and choose Copy, then bring site B to the front, click on the scissor and choose Paste.

At first, you’d think it has to be some terrible ActiveX hack, but it’s not — it’s a hidden text field and a bit of JavaScript that moves the data around.

A political feature

And the crucial point is that there are now enough “standard” XML-based formats to make this kind of thing work, if developers work together and don’t create too many ways of expressing the same data, and don’t create to many different graphic representations. One of each will be enough and more than one will be too much.

That’s where the power of a leader like Ray, using a venues like Etech and Scripting News, skillfully, may manage to avoid the pitfalls. It’s an idea worth looking at, so let’s have a look.

Your ideas are welcome

Post your questions and comments here, and we’ll see if we can’t get you the answers. And if you have a demo of this idea on a non-Microsoft site please post a link here for us to look at.

PS: Photos of Ray giving his Etech talk.

43 responses to this post.

  1. [...] New idea: Ray Ozzie’s clipboard for the web. “Let’s say you have two sites both of which understand calendar data. I want to move an appointment from one site to another.”  [...]

    Reply

  2. The screencasts are crammed with marketing speak and the narrator talks v … e … r … y … s … l … o … w … l … y, and there is no fastforward button, so I didn\’t bother finishing any of the presentations.

    I want to know exactly what problems this solves for end users like me. As far as I can tell, the best use scenarios are moving calendar data, blog feeds and events. Like I said, I didn\’t get too into the screencasts so maybe I\’m missing something truly miller. The events thing sounds kind of cool. this will save me a bit of typing. But I\’m not super excited about it.

    I hate to nitpick, but why do you have to click on the scissors and THEN click copy in a menu? Why isn\’t it enough to click on the scissors?

    An even more nitpicky nitpick: scissors means cut, not copy. I think I could live with this if it really instantly copied, and they took out the menu, which appears to allow you to actually \”Cut\” (which I suspect would not work).

    Reply

  3. PS OK here\’s one cool application: Copy/Paste a photo from Flickr onto a blogspot blog. Copy/Paste a movie from a laptop onto YouTube (this is in a fantasy world where we have bandiwdth comparable to modern Western countries). Copy/Paste an MP3 from iTunes onto a gmail message.

    The gains are pretty incremental over what it takes to do these things now, but the results could be pretty significant. By the way isn\’t this kind of integration the raison d\’etre of Apple\’s iLife suite? Interesting to see how they react.

    Reply

  4. \”At first, you’d think it has to be some terrible ActiveX hack, but it’s not — it’s a hidden text field and a bit of JavaScript that moves the data around.\”

    If that is truly the case then why is there a little clipboard application running in the tray on the screencast?

    Reply

  5. Posted by Expat in Britain on March 7, 2006 at 10:21 am

    > If that is truly the case then why is there a little clipboard application running in the tray on the screencast?

    I haven\’t seen the screencast, but it works here on Firefox — so the app in the tray is probably the screencast app itself.

    Reply

  6. I LOVE this idea! Dave is right – if we all work together – this can become a reality.

    My first reastions were abut authentication, spam and secruity. But I bet that can all be worked out. The real issue is (and it\’s the same issue Kim Cameron ran into) can anyone trust Microsoft to lead us forward – in the worls of Open Standards?

    I say – lets give them a chance!

    Its not like Tim OReilly is suggestimg anything different. Or Rael Dornfest.

    Reply

  7. I\’m very excited about using this to address a few of the challenges I\’ve encounted with a few of my projects. The biggest promise always comes from solving the simplest problems.

    Very cool stuff!

    -ross

    Reply

  8. [...] Here’s the comment I left at Dave’s post: I LOVE this idea! Dave is right – if we all work together – this can become a reality. [...]

    Reply

  9. Ray Ozzie\’s blog appears to be down right now, so please forgive any ignorance on my part.

    The \’web clipboard\’ needs to be the same clipboard as the normal desktop clipboard. I think the idea of introducing another seperate clipboard, one for a specific class of applications, has the potential to be pretty confusing to end users.

    Also, the scenarios where I can see this being truly useful are things like copying contacts/appoinements from my Outlook into my Yahoo calendar, or vice versa. Same thing goes for pictures… I\’d like to be able to control+C a picture out of photoshop and control+V it into a web app.

    Another good, but more general, use case might be to use a \’web clipboard\’ service to unify the clipboards on multiple computers. Moving data from one PC to another could look, from the UI\’s point of view, like a copy on one PC and a paste on the other. (Now that I think of it, I think windows has been been able do something like this with the clipbook, since WfWG 3.1).

    Of course, there\’d have to be some set of user-configurable security restrictions around all of this.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Ramin on March 7, 2006 at 10:56 am

    Good point Ryan, on the \’Cut\’ not really cutting things out.

    It was a bit confusing. First they talked about the various web-based aggregators not having the same \’feed\’ URL support, then they veered into pasting data into blogs. What does feed aggregation have to do with authoring content? The problem statement and the solution didn\’t match.

    Nevertheless, the idea behind web-based clipboard formats has merit and (putting my Nostradamus hat on) I\’m betting it\’s going to end up as a form of web-based compound document architecture, to be implemented in Office 15 :-)

    Reply

  11. Ok, so apparently it does work without that little tray app? Great! I am still wondering what that little app is that was running in the tray with the \”Scissors\” icon?

    Reply

  12. Posted by Will Cate on March 7, 2006 at 11:02 am

    \”even more nitpicky nitpick: scissors means cut, not copy\”

    In the case of the calendar feature Dave describes, I would suggest moving away from the cut-copy-paste metaphor completely. \”Send\” and \”Receive\” make more sense, as in \”Send to another calendar…\” for a single cal. item. Of course the enduser would never interact with the Receive part… that\’s just going on programmatically in the background of the calendar server.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Jake on March 7, 2006 at 11:21 am

    @Colin – run screencast #2.

    It\’s explained that that clipboard application is a bridge between the XML formats and native PC formats.

    In the calendar example, a web calendar entry is copied (apparently in hCalendar and iCalendar formats) to the clipboard. The helper app also converts those formats to Outlook calendar format, so the data can be pasted into the native PC calendar.

    In Web-to-Web, the XML formats are supported without the helper application.

    Reply

  14. Jake, thanks I missed that. I should have listened to the entire second screencast.

    Reply

  15. Posted by Stephane Rodriguez on March 7, 2006 at 11:42 am

    The first time I heard about the Windows clipboard, that was to discover fifteen minutes later that the API is nothing more than a host for the infectious O.L.E. technology, which is hardly interoperable.

    So is that introducing O.L.E. 2.0 one way or another?

    Or is it just me thinking that Microsoft will again embrace and extend something that could and should really instead become standard? (to get an idea of this, just look at how their RSS store platform is actually stored).

    Btw, I love when Microsoft speaks about javascript. I don\’t know if that\’s ECMA javascript we are talking about here, but usually Microsoft mentions \”javascript\” when that is good for them. And JScript(TM) anywhere else, their proprietary version.

    Reply

  16. Isn\’t this like you saying ok, you have a blog on one site and you want to copy it to another site? You don\’t need scissors you need a third site aggregating off the first two or a river of time or something. I haven\’t watched the videos yet so maybe I\’m missing something. As an example of an implementation, there\’s a little project (Trac) I\’ve used in the past which has a wiki and ties into source control and gives you a way to manage software projects. Anyhow on their roadmap pages at the bottom you have a link to the iCalendar format of the roadmap with milestones. You just click it and it imports into your Mac or on the PC Sunbird. Here\’s an example site using Trac which I more or less randomly found on Google. It would work in Outlook but last time I tried it Microsoft was not fully adhering to the standard. I have submitted comments in the past for them to fix this but I\’m digressing.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Nicholas Paredes on March 7, 2006 at 11:49 am

    My thoughts on this originate out of the list concept, but where I believe things will head is in the direction of identification/linking of content. If the list item is a recipe it has components. These components are important if I am at the store. If I am going to the store, a trusted source could pre-assemble these items or bid on the task of doing so. A scenario like this allows for flexibility in the use of technologies. RFID tagged spice racks at home only link to my recipe if they exist.

    The clip board is simply a link, not a physical movement. Posting from Flickr or another personal archive is simply allowing it to be transferred between sources. Letting family know that it exists is simply connecting the dots on screen.

    The simplified form is data field, association list items, connection list items… Photo, personal/geographic/travel/family/friend…, blog/Flickr/storage…

    Reply

  18. Posted by Nicholas Paredes on March 7, 2006 at 11:55 am

    should we be looking back at the PARC concepts for multiple displays? IE, Post-It-Note displays, portable media displays… Displays which link together to form networks of displays?

    Reply

  19. I inderstand that calendars are a hot topic right now (although I don\’t quite see why, they\’ve been around forever: the original chinese calendar dates back to 2600 B.C) but these \’glue\’ web services could work wonders for many types of shared data. Contacts come to mind. Many others.

    Here\’s my tip to any startup who wants to tap the corporate market while riding this new calendar hype: interface with Exchange. Seriously. I am no MS fanatic (more the opposite) but that is the corporate reality.

    Reply

  20. Update to my previous post. Well it looks like they fixed Trac to support Outlook and the standard rfc2445.

    http://projects.edgewall.com/trac/ticket/1988

    The other links mentioned in my post which got garbled were:

    http://svn.framewerk.org/trac.cgi/roadmap and http://svn.framewerk.org/trac.cgi/roadmap?format=ics (You can now import it into Outlook)

    Reply

  21. Hi all, I\’m on the team that developed the prototypes Ray showed in the demo, and I\’d like to answer a couple of the questions here.

    \”I hate to nitpick, but why do you have to click on the scissors and THEN click copy in a menu? Why isn’t it enough to click on the scissors?\”

    The reason for this is there is no safe, cross-browser way to access the contents of the clipboard in this manner. The nice thing about our web control is that relies on the built-in browser menus etc. for cut/copy/paste. This means that the control will never have access to the clipboard data until the user explicitely \”pastes\” into it.

    \”If that is truly the case then why is there a little clipboard application running in the tray on the screencast?\”

    The clipboard application in the tray converts between the Live Clipboard XML format that is used by the web control and native clipboard formats that existing Windows apps understand. For example, in the calendar portion of the demo, this clipboard application converts from hCal to iCal, which can be pasted directly into Outlook (we didn\’t modify Outlook in any way). You don\’t have to install the clipboard application in order to use the web control — it just enhances the desktop scenarios. In fact, you can try out the sample web page linked-to on Ray\’s blog in IE, Firefox or Safari (with others coming) without installing anything.

    Reply

  22. Web-capable copy/paste is a good idea. Don\’t also forget: drag/drop.

    Reply

  23. Apart from the obvious usefulness of this device, considering the plethora of web-based Office-like tools on the Net, Ray Ozzie is the genuine article when it comes to innovation. I wish more folks at Microsoft would adopt his open-mindedness and his position that \”Complexity kills.\”

    Reply

  24. This is just excellent, I may have a lot of critical things to say about Microsoft and their past tactics, but this is just awsome, expect folknology to implementy this in it’s up and coming products..

    I also added a comment on it at the Folknology blog, let our audience know

    Thanks for the heads up Dave
    regards
    Al

    PS can you add OPML copy aand paste (livelinking), just imagine the possibilities there………

    Reply

  25. [...] He goes on to say that since the inception of the web, we’ve been missing that easy integration. So, he set out to fix that, and today, announced a new initiative: Live Clipboard. It’s idea is simple: allow the same integration that we’ve enjoyed in Windows using the simple cut and paste methods, but extend it to the web. A standard format for moving data between websites and from PCs to websites. He calls it wiring the web, and it doesn’t sound like he came up with it on his own. Dave Winer seems to have quite a bit of details about the inner workings of what’s going on, and since Dave is a techie, he’s got some good insights into what’s going on behind the scenes. [...]

    Reply

  26. From Jack Ozzie, 1 minute ago, answering my post on the LiveClip discussion board:

    “Bob,

    I’m glad you think this is cool, and as a developer I too understand the need for sample code. We’re REALLY early with this concept as Ray explained today in his blog posting, as my team just finished building the sample code in time to support his demo today at e-tech.

    Just to set your expectations with “truth in advertising”: Live Clipboard went from a concept that Ray challenged me with three weeks ago to demo quality code that he showed today during his keynote at etech.
    For now, you should be able to get started with the script code that’s on the web to understand how it works within the context of a Web site. You
    don’t need any client side code to do browser-to-browser data exchange.
    We’ll be providing more supporting documentation for that sample shortly, hopefully by end of the day.

    With regard to the client side component that you saw running in the system tray: We built this component to translate from native PC clipboard formats to/from the browser’s LiveClipboard, and also keeps persistent history in a “clipbook” concept. We’d need to harden this component way more before we make it available as it covers lots of functionality that was just “baked in” at the last minute.

    Our top priority is getting the data format for Live Clipboard finalized, then adapt the current sample code/site and share it out to the Web. We’re working as fast as we can to get both the formats and samples out to the community, so I appreciate yours and everyone’s patience here.

    PS:
    I’ll put in a plug for my dev team as they deserve all the credit for making Ray’s cool idea a reality. This effort couldn’t have been pulled off without the innovative talent and long hours put in by the concept dev team.

    – Jack”

    Reply

  27. [...] Dave Winer has a pretty good practical example of how this could be used. Let’s say you have two sites both of which understand calendar data. I want to move an appointment from one site to another. In Ray’s scheme, there’s now an icon on each site, next to each piece of data that can be transported. The icon is a picture of a scissor. Bring site A to the front, click on the scissor and choose Copy, then bring site B to the front, click on the scissor and choose Paste. [...]

    Reply

  28. Holy smokes, this is cool. In Firefox, try selecting View > Page Style > No Style. You can see more of the guts of the thing.

    Reply

  29. I have posted the demo on my server.

    I also created a another small micro-format called RSS Feed Link to see how easy it was.

    See,

    http://www.faulkingham.com/colin/clipboardexample.html

    Reply

  30. [...] Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s CTO, had a thought for a new service about a month ago. Today, he launched it at eTech and through Dave Winer’s Scripting News. [...]

    Reply

  31. [...] This is clearly important – not just because of the fact that this story is maxing out on tech.memeorandum, DIGG, Tailrank, del.icio.us/Popular and others, but also because Ray Ozzie said it.  Oh, and because Dave Winer thinks its important too! [...]

    Reply

  32. Hi Matt, and others

    I just posted an idea on using behaviours that may be of interest to you and and the community around the web based clipboard. More importantly it concerns making it easier to implement it (using the behaviour style with decoupling) it could also proliferate the practice accross Feeds/Agraggators (as well as web pages/apps) that way everyone wins. let me know your thoughts

    regards
    Al

    Reply

  33. “there are now enough “standard” XML-based formats to make this kind of thing work”.

    Absolutely. In particular, microformats.

    Kudos to Ray and Jack and team for supporting the open data formats hCard and hCalendar to power their clipboard for the web.

    There’s lots more microformats at http://microformats.org/ .

    “if developers work together and don’t create too many ways of expressing the same data, and don’t create to many different graphic representations. One of each will be enough and more than one will be too much.”

    Absolutely. A whole bunch of wonderful folks have worked very hard to make all this happen, and the community very much welcomes input and participation. Join the discussion on the microformats-discuss list, and help us evolve the Web.

    Tantek

    Reply

  34. [...] I wonder how many people are surprised that it ends up being Microsoft that comes up with something like this. This is real Web 2.0 innovation, yes, but also interesting is that it can remove a key usability advantage that smart-clients have over browser UI. Ironically this helps close the gap between the BUI and the GUI (and we know which one wins this fight when the gap is gone). Now, I really wish I was going to Mix06 — maybe there will be more up their sleeves. BTW, I like the fact that Microsoft is working with Dave Winer on these ideas (OK, maybe it is just Ray Ozzie doing that, I don’t know). Marc Cantor says he loves the Web Clipboard here. I almost misquoted him as saying it was “coolio” — seemed like a safe bet — anyway, it layers well on his work with microformats. [...]

    Reply

  35. I run a photo-editing website ( http://www.pxn8.com ).
    From my point-of-view, the idea of a web clipboard is really compelling. Is there a developer mailing list ? How can I help make this happen ?

    Walter

    Reply

  36. sxoop,

    You can join the mailing list here: http://discuss.microsoft.com/SCRIPTS/WA-MSD.EXE?SUBED1=live-clip&A=1

    There is more information on using Live Clipboard and an example of how it works here: http://spaces.msn.com/editorial/rayozzie/demo/liveclip/liveclipsample/clipboardexample.html

    Reply

  37. Dave,

    I think Ray’s concept is only half way ready.
    I wrote some suggestions to it at my blog:

    http://jdonat.blogspot.com/2006/03/what-is-missing-in-ray-ozzies-live.html

    Jiri

    Reply

  38. [...] Ray Ozzie’s clipboard for the web [...]

    Reply

  39. [...] Pensemos en dos cajas de texto en dos páginas web. Podemos copiar el contenido de una y pegarlo en la otra, es sólo texto plano. Pensemos ahora en estructuras de datos algo más complejas, una entrada en un calendario web, con la fecha y la lista de eventos para ese día con las horas. Podría ir a una página de conciertos con este tipo de datos, marcar unas fechas con el ratón y pegarlas en otra aplicación web que tengo abierta en otra pestaña del navegador – por ejemplo mi calendario personal – e incorporarlas a mi agenda.Pero esto último aún no es posible. No existen representaciones estándar para este tipo de información ni las aplicaciones web están diseñadas para incorporar este mecanismo. Pues bien, Ray Ozzie de Microsoft, ha propuesto (vía scripting) lo que ha venido a llamar Live Clipboard que consiste básicamente en lo que hemos descrito, con una demo para probarlo. Sugiere que los servicios web que lo soporten, añadan un icono con las tijeras para habilitar el mecanimos de “copia y pega en la web”. [...]

    Reply

  40. Very nice. I really like the demo provided by Colin. Would there be the possibility of format selection?

    Reply

  41. I’ve put together a demo that integrates with the clipboard, at least for vcards (people). I was interested in how the current clipboard spec mixes presentation (html) with data, and how that actually works when you copy something from one web site and paste to another. The demo shows how you can use microtemplates to control what the pasted content would look like on your site.

    Reply

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