Widgets (aka gadgets, modules) are mini web apps that you can plug in to a
webpage or site such as MySpace, or a personalized start page like Netvibes or live.com.
Widgets are becoming more and more important on the Web, so I thought I’d spend a few
posts looking more closely at them.
Let’s start with Google widgets,
which they used to call modules but are now calling gadgets (curiously, a case where
Google has copied Microsoft). Google offers two types of gadgets:
1) Desktop plug-ins – for the Google
Desktop. Much like Yahoo’s Konfabulator widget platform and Apple Dashboard.
Google gadgets can also run in Google Pages,
their webpage-editing tool.
To develop gadgets for the Google platform, use the Google Gadgets API – which Google claims
is “so easy to use that you can develop your first gadget in 5 minutes”. They also say
it’s easy to turn existing web content into a gadget.
The main difference between Google’s and Microsoft’s gadgets is that Google takes a
web-centric approach, whereas Microsoft gadgets will utilize both desktop and web. I’ll
look more closely at Microsoft’s gadgets in my next widgets post.