SproutBuilder is going to explode the world of widgets on the web. This is far and away my favorite product I've seen at DEMO, not just this year but ever in the three years I've attended. Limited beta accounts are available to RWW readers via http://www.sproutbuilder.com/readwriteweb
The product is a drag-and-drop Flash authoring tool built on Adobe's Flex. SproutBuilder lets you build very sophisticated, multi-page widgets with media, analytics and more. In minutes. With ease.
Let's look at some of the widgets that I put together using SproutBuilder. The first is a 3 page RWW Widget - look how cute it is! It displays our RSS feed (updated automatically every 5 minutes), followed by a YouTube video demonstrating Sprout and concluding with a slideshow of photos. Click on the "share" button and you'll see the Gigya distribution platform.
There's all kinds of things that you can include in a Sprout now and features marked "coming soon" include Meebo chat, Ribbit VOIP and PollDaddy polls.
I asked Ryan Stewart, Rich Internet Application Evangelist at Adobe, if he had every seen anything like Sprout. He told me, "Sproutbuilder is one of the absolute coolest use cases I've seen for Flex. I think it lowers the barrier to entry to Flash and I hope it's going to spark a lot of creativity among people who aren't creating Flash content today."
I think that almost any individual or organization publishing online would find great value in using SproutBuilder to put together a nice looking, highly functional widget to distribute their content around the web.
The other widget I built was this one for PulseOfPDX, a site that aggregates Twitter messages from people in Portland, Oregon. I put this together in 2 minutes. Imagine what someone with some graphic design skills could do.
All of this said, Sprout isn't perfect. It's got a few bugs in it still. Thus the very limited beta. I think the potential here is fantastic though. The team behind Sprout originally built the ChipIn fund-raising widget for nonprofit campaigns. They found that there were so many requests for customization and white-labeling that it motivated them to build a builder that anyone can use.
Just before Sprout another, similar tool called FlyPaper (Freshbrew.com) presented. It's slick and well packaged. Sprout though has been build with geekery in mind, it's API friendly, you can get the .swf file itself if you want to and given the orientation of the team this is a tool you can feel good about using.
Hurry over and get an account while they are still available in the closed beta.