Yahoo! Widgets platform, version 4.5. For developers, the platform includes a range of new features, including the ability to use video, widgets for spreading your widgets, and better security disclosures. But the single most important new feature in this release is a re-architected widget core that gives developers full access to the DOM, as well as HTML and Flash.Yahoo! tonight announced the release of the latest version of the
What that means is that any developers with web collateral in HTML or Flash can easily transform their web widgets into desktop widgets. Yahoo! is already working with the leading web widget distribution platforms, including Netvibes, Clearspring, and MuseStorm, to bring their widgets offline. Netvibes has already committed to bringing the thousands of widgets created for their ecosystem to the desktop via Yahoo! Widgets.
MuseStorm will bring some of its high profile widgets to the desktop by the end of the year, and Clearspring will enable some of their widgets on the Yahoo! platform as well. All three will be able to offer desktop distribution as an option to developers via Yahoo!'s new system.
I spoke with Scott Derringer, who is the Director of Product Management for Yahoo! Widgets, and he told me that because of the engine's full support for HTML and Flash translating existing web assets to a desktop widget is now "tremendously easy." Derringer told me he thinks that desktop widgets tend to offer deeper interaction than their web counterparts because they are always on, always ready to receive new information, and can operate in the background while a user does other stuff. Web widgets, on the other hand, need you to be present at a specific page to be operating.
Yahoo! also soft-launched an updated version of the widget gallery about 10 days ago, and I was told that their ultimate goal is to become the clearinghouse for all desktop widgets that run on their engine, including those ported from web platforms. Right now they list about 4,300 widgets, but that number should grow once web developers start porting their widgets to the desktop.
Allowing developers to take web widgets offline is good news for both developers and users, and will not only mean more widgets available to desktop users, but also more developers creating widgets for the desktop, since now web developers can create desktop widgets by using scripting languages they are familiar with. What would be great is if Yahoo! could go the other way in the next update and make Yahoo! desktop widgets work on the web. Perhaps even on MyYahoo!