Microsoft Vine, Web Sandbox and other nifty beta apps

How about combining Twitter's micro-blogging, with location-awareness, a robust network that won't go down and a map of links to 20,000 local news sources? That's Microsoft's attempt to do Twitter one better, with a beta app called Vine, available for Seattle users at the moment. The app was created by the now disbanded Microsoft Live Labs group, the same folks that brought you other cool Web apps like Photosynth, Thumbtack and Seadragon.

In a refreshing departure from Microsoft's classic go-it-alone mentality, developers promise that Vine will eventually integrate with Twitter and Facebook. (To be fair, Windows Live also integrates with other social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr. Windows Live is Microsoft's collection of online apps including e-mail, instant messaging, photo gallery, etc.) Given Vine's emphasis on location awareness, the app seems intended to help people get realtime information from news and their social networks on emergency situations -- such as reported outbreaks of the swine flu or tornado warnings.

The app has been talked up for a while, but began making news today when several blogs suddenly began discussing it. This has lead us to thinking that there are other cool apps in various Microsoft development labs that might also be worth "the bump." Here are two:

Web Sandbox

Introduced last fall, Web Sandbox is an open source project from Microsoft Labs that attempts to secure web content -- particularly javascript -- through isolation. Web gadgets, mashup components, advertisements and other content on Web sites run with full trust alongside your content or are isolated inside of IFrames. These Web services aren't necessarily highly secure or reliable. Live Labs Web Sandbox addresses this problem. The Microsoft Web Sandbox is addressing these challenges by virtualizing both script execution and the DOM.

The sandbox takes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and puts it in an isolated box. It's not the first to try this. Caja, AdSafe, FBJS and many others try to make JavaScript execution safer in some way. But this project is interestingly because the source code developed by Microsoft for the Web Sandbox JavaScript library is available under the Open Source Apache License 2.0. This is a license that allows the content creator to maintain copyright while permitting others to view the code and develop it for their own use.


StickySorter is a tool for organizing information created by a Microsoft Office Labs. Sticky sorter uses the "sticky note" metaphor to dice up data and then rearrange it into various groups. But unlike the "notes" function in Microsoft Outlook, the sorter includes a host of tools to allow the user to work with really large data sets.

Its features include import and export information in .csv format, creating groups of notes, display of structured information on a note by using multiple fields—a title, description, and author, for example. It supports custom views and lots of viewing options including including panning and zooming on an infinite canvas; tiling, cascading, and piling notes; setting note colors; searching for text within notes and so on.

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