What are these Widget Thingies ?
Basically any icon or GUI element which can be modified by the computer or any user to perform a desired action either online or on their computer can be called a Widget. As you can see by this definition that it encompasses a large variety of application which can be called widgets.
To explain things with an example the icons on your desktop can be considered Widgets. When you manipulate the icon by clicking with the mouse or keyboard you are actually telling it to interact with the computer or a website and thus accomplish a desired function.
Widgets, therefore, should be ideally simple applications, buit to perform one simple function and thus offering ease of use to the user.
The Yahoo! Weather Widget on Windows XP
The Konfabulator - Whattzzit ?
- Konfabulator is the Widget Engine which interprets the Widget Code and generated the visualisation and the functionality of the widget.
- Arlo Rose, Perry Clarke, and Ed Voas created Konfabultor for the MAC OS and released it commercially on 10th February, 2003 at US$ 24.95.
- Subsequent Windows version released on November 8, 2004.
- The idea of developing the Konfabulator came to Arlo Rose when he was struck by the beauty of being able to skin a media player. He wanted to do the same for all windows based applications. A comic strip on Konfabulator's site narrates this tale.
How Yahoo! went the Widget way...
Look around on SDN and all you will see are Yahoo! Widgets. So how did Yahoo! start treading the path of Widgets ?
- On 25th July, 2005 Yahoo! acquired Konfabulator which had a widget engine named after the company. After the acquisition, Yahoo! released the Konfabulator engine for free which previously retailed at US$ 19.95.
- Konfabulator was renamed Yahoo! Widgets and Yahoo! justified it's acquisition by stating that it wanted to collate all information and APIs of Konfabulator, organise them on their website and make it easily available to the developer community.
The "Dashboard VS Konfabulator" debate...
There have been two schools of thought regarding who ripped of whom since Apple released OS X Tiger and renamed what they had called formerly "gadgets" to "widgets". The visual and functional similarities of both have been long a bone of contention with each camp having its dedicated supporters. However this article has a different view to offer.
Other Widget Engines / Applications
Though there are a lot of Widget Engines and Applications floating on the Web, this article would be incomplete without mentioning a few other Engines / Applications that provide similar functionality.
- Windows Sidebar in Windows Vista
- Microsoft Gadgets : Microsoft's own implementation of Widgets.
- Google DeskTop Gadgets
- gDesklets for GNOME (Linux)
A Desktop Full of Widgets (Windows XP)