I really like to find relatively simple ideas that are so powerful words stick in my throad for a moment. With all the XML and Web Services hype, there has been a relative dearth of really nice innovative applications. I have pointed out a couple before, and this is a new one I just found - RSSJobs
RSSJobs allows you to create and save searches for Monster, Dice, HotJobs,and more in one location, then delivers the results to your favorite RSS Reader.
I do not know how well it works, but this is exactly the kind of application that would be really hard to do nicely beforehand. The word nicely is important because obviously it was possible to do before. xxxJobs would then either create its own client or, more likely, its own webpage to display the information. Not a bad deal. However, even the creation of a dynamic website is a drawback -- it takes time and money to create and maintain. The users do not really care -- all they want is job listings from multiple sources. RSS lets you ignore the presentation, and that's a tremendous saving. Developing these services now becomes more akin, conceptually, to Unix shell programming than to Win32. Easily created small snippets that can integrate easily together vs. larger more monolithic applications that deal with the problem end-to-end.
For years now we have been told that XML is king and Web Services is its chariot. Unfortunately it was not clear what kind of clothes the king had (sorry for the cliche) or where it was going. These types of small, applications that easily plug into existing services and delivery mechanisms are the goal. Meshing 5 or 10 of them together could create incredibly powerful applications that would be all but impossible to create as stand-alone apps.