Zimbra - Blog - A Pint of ALE - Ajax Linking and Embedding: "AJAX Linking and Embedding (ALE) provides the ability to embed rich content into an editable document and to then interact with and edit that content in much the same way as it is done with traditional office suites and applications in a desktop environment. A key difference is that instead of embedding objects that are backed by installed desktop applications (e.g. a spreadsheet or drawing application), within the ALE world the embedded objects are AJAX components that are embedded into an editable HTML document. These components adhere to a set of design patterns specified by the ALE specification. So, for example, if a user is editing some content such as a personal note or an email message, then she would be able to directly embed an AJAX spreadsheet into the note or email body and interact with the spreadsheet while remaining in the editing context of the note or email message. As long as the spreadsheet component adheres to the ALE specification it could be fetched across the network, instantiated, and used regardless of the user’s location."
Very interesting new technology from Zimbra.
Weird déjà vu lately, with ALE (like OLE in some respects) and Microsoft's recent Simple Sharing Extensions and Live Clipboard initiatives (reminiscent of DDE and the Windows clipboard).
There was lots of enthusiasm for DDE during the 1980s and OLE during the 1990s, but neither really went mainstream in terms of influencing everyday user conceptual models. I suspect it may be a different story this time around, since the Internet has a lot more link-worthy stuff than most people's local hard disks. Wikis will also likely play a role; while wikis are mostly known for lightweight web-based content-centric collaboration, they're also subtly democratizing hypertext authoring, and web-centric linking and embedding will be a natural extension to "the wiki way."