Tuesday, December 13

Google Active Homepage

Google today announced on its blog that in addition to RSS feeds it will start supporting "richer web apps as well." In other words, if you can create some HTML / Javascript you can include it as a "Widget" on your homepage.

Creating an application with Google Homepage Developer APIs is a snap. To create a widget all you need to do is wrap some simple XML around the HTML of your choice. As a demo, I created a widget to search Globalspec's Engineering Web search engine. If you want to check it out all you need to do is:
  1. Copy this link location.
  2. Open the "Add content" pane of your Google personalized homepage.
  3. Paste into the Google "Create Section" text box .
  4. Learn how to work for Intel: Try a search for "Britney Spears", or maybe learn to build a lego robot by checking out "Lego Mindstorms".
Now, was that so incredibly difficult? Making a widget is almost as hard!

It's nice to see some action from Google in this area. I use Google as my personalized homepage, but Google is playing catch up in this arena. Microsoft has its "Windows Live" platform that it is building, including your own personalized, active homepage. Microsoft's widget gallery has been around longer and has a richer widget gallery, of a mind-blowing 110 widgets.

The other player, Yahoo, has its widget system from its Konfabulator acquisition. It has a hefty 1,600+ widgets. The downside: you have to download an engine that runs on your desktop. Perhaps its just me, but isn't this what I have a browser for? You want me to download a desktop app to use widgets? Sorry, I'm not convinced, yet.

Right now Google's directory only has five widgets, but I look forward to seeing what is added as time goes on.

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