The new Google Gadget Builder for Organizations looks like the easiest way there is to build a widget for webpages or a gadget for iGoogle. Intended for nonprofit organizations, the Gadget Builder lets widget authors combine RSS feeds, YouTube video playlists and links to donate or join the email list serve for your organization.
That sounds great, until you start kicking the tires. On the same week Google launched it’s ballyhooed App Engine, which offers powerful Google-style development architecture and gobs of free hosting and scaling – nonprofits get stuck with a substandard builder for widgets that Google won’t even host for them.
Below is one that I built, there’s very little customization enabled in the wizard but you could substitute some of the image files once they were on your own server. The service is probably best for organizations that want to look pathetic and out-of-date right away.
“Remember, your gadget will only bring people to your web site if they know about it, so be sure to follow all four [of the following promotional] steps,” the Widget Builder’s last page says. The fourth step is to buy AdSense to promote your nonprofit widget. How tasteless.
Did I mention that Google won’t even host your nonprofit widgets for you? The day after they announced their new program to provide free scalable hosting for for-profit applications?
Organizations interested in a more powerful option should check out the even easier to use SproutBuilder. SproutBuilder comes with built-in distribution hooks, unlike this Google Gadget that prompts people to do nothing but add a widget to a Google page. It’s pretty absurd.