Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Whatever happened to Live Clipboard?

with 4 comments

[This blog post was originally published on my work blog at http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson/archive/2009/05/27/whatever-happened-to-live-clipboard.aspx and I thought I would publish it here because it might be of interest to readers of this blog also]

Anyone out there remember Live Clipboard? It was a very interesting incubation technology that came out of Microsoft’s Live Labs group way back in 2006 (I think) and how now been open sourced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It was also backed from way up on high – Ray Ozzie (now Chief Software Architect at Microsoft and also the guy who took over from Bill Gates) was its chief backer. Live Clipboard was in fact one of the few technologies that Ray blogged about on his, now defunct, MSN Spaces blog but sadly that blog post is no longer available.

Live Clipboard Icon

So, what was Live Clipboard? From the site itself:

“Live Clipboard uses JavaScript and standard XML formats to easily move data from one web site to another, or between the web and standard applications. It extends the clipboard concept (familiar to most computer users) to the web.”


In other words, it is copy and paste for the web. You may think we already have that; after all, I can copy and paste some text from a text box on one page into a text box on another web page; but that isn’t really what this is about. Live Clipboard used XML markup to describe the data that was being copied thus if that XML was a well-known representation of the data (e.g. a microformat) then the receiving website could act upon that data accordingly. The canonical example is the one given at http://www.liveclipboard.org/:

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

Its not hard to envisage many other uses for such a technology, http://microformats.org has a number of fledgling microformat specifications that could all benefit from Live Clipboard:

Imagine finding someone’s contact details on their website and easily being able to transport those details into your address book with a couple of clicks – that’s the promise of Live Clipboard and microformats. Copy and paste is nearing ubiquity for smart devices (e.g. just one week ago iPhone announced support for copy and paste) and I doubt anyone reading this would contemplate using a PC that didn’t support it so I’m surprised that this similar concept for the web that is based on well known and ubiquitously supported standards (i.e. Javascript and XML) hasn’t taken off.

A number of large organisations have started to support Microformats most notably Google who recently announced that Googlebot would start seeking out Microformats and Microsoft themselves who have released Oomph, a microformats toolkit. Given that the use of microformats is now taking off I’m surprised that Live Clipboard hasn’t been heard of in such a long time. Here’s hoping that changes soon because it sounds like a very useful technology and to a fella like me whose primary interest is data integration anything that uses well-known standards as a method of doing that is worthy of attention.

Does anyone out there have any information to share about Live Clipboard?



Live Clipboard main site – http://www.liveclipboard.org/
Live Clipboard on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_Clipboard

UPDATE: Ray is well known for inviting people to contact him so I did that and asked him what had happened to Live Clipboard. Paraphrasing his reply: “even though there was initial interest, once it was open sourced there was a lack of take-up within the wider web developer community.” Shame!


Written by Jamiet

June 15, 2009 at 8:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Re: Ray’s comment: Maybe it wasn’t given enough advertising! I’ve never heard of it and simply assumed my own Windows Clipboard took care of everything!


    June 15, 2009 at 8:52 am

  2. Hi Jen,The normal clipboard that we’ve used for years is obviously very useful but Live Clipboard offered something more useful – copying and pasting data that could be understood at the place where it got pasted – that’s a very very powerful idea.-Jamie


    June 15, 2009 at 9:11 am

  3. Yes, it is, Jamie. (By the way; good morning!) You described this feature very well. Sounds a bit like magic! I can’t imagine C&P working with such zest. I’ve never experienced it. Ever!


    June 15, 2009 at 9:17 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: