SproutBuilder, the drag and drop Flash authoring environment for widget building we fell in love with at the DEMO conference, released a much more sophisticated version of its service today. Authoring controls are much improved and the new Software Development Kit offers a taste of the kind of extended functionality that will now be available to users.
Sprout users can now integrate Twitter, Seesmic, Brightcove and other web services into their widgets. The SDK will be opening up slowly to support as many services as developers can imagine.
If you've tried SproutBuilder before, you probably noticed that it launched with some kinks. Our three favorite improvements in the new version are:
Each page in a Sprout widget's authoring space now displays the last 20 editing actions taken there, making it easy to revert back and take bigger risks without fear.
Elements can be set easily to flash at hover, slide in at page load or perform a variety of other "effects." A simple enough matter, this allows widget authors to add some helpful finesse.
Displaying RSS feeds is one of the handiest ways to make Sprouts dynamic. Previously the text output was ugly and unchangable. That is no longer the case, making Sprout a whole lot more usable as a production level tool.
The launch of the Sproutbuilder platform holds a whole lot of potential. This little tool already packs a big punch, but there's nothing like opening up to outside developers to amplify the impact of your own work.
Right now you'll need to apply for access to the SDK, but Sprout says they hope that will change soon. Its capabilities will grow increasingly sophisticated over time, as well. Seesmic integration, for example, will soon include the ability to record videos to Seesmic from a Sprout, not just view videos. Google Forms integration is interesting - what else would you like to see available in a widget? Ribbit click-to-call is live now and couldn't be easier to use.
Below is another example of a good widget built using Sprout. Coincidentally, it's from my alma mater, but from the kind of kids I'd give a dirty look to whenever I saw them in the halls. None the less, they make a mean widget.