Gadgets and Widgets and Apollo, Oh My!

I’ve been building my first Vista Gadget. Dave K inspired me by writing an awesome targeted Gadget for our environment. For those of you who don’t know, Gadgets are little HTML, JavaScript enabled applications that run on the desktop and server up little bits of information like weather, or stocks, or what have you. For those of you that are saying “OSX has had them for awhile… they’re called widgets,” Shhhh, be quiet. Apple stole the idea from Konfabulator, who stole it from Apple, who probably stole it from Xerox. But let’s just say the idea has been around for awhile, and we all think it’s cool.

Anyway… I’ve been writing a Gadget, and it’s shockingly easy. However I’m annoyed at the prospect of translating it to a OSX Widget. It’s HTML, it’s JavaScript, it’s CSS; a widget is HTML, a widget is JavaScript, a widget is CSS. Why the hell do I have to do any translation? This is the age of Web Standards, and SOA, I thought I would never have to work to make a basic HTML application cross platform again. Both Microsoft and Apple deserve a little finger wagging here. You’re making us take a giant step backwards!

I could rewrite it as a Yahoo! Widget. That would make it cross platform. But I would have to rewrite it as XML and JavaScript. (Not as much fun as HTML and JavaScript. ) Plus, it’s not like Yahoo! Widgets is lighting up the Internets.

If only there was a cross platform application engine that could present applications written in HTML and JavaScript. It would harness the ease of HTML and JavaScript development with a portable runtime. It could also package them into self contained little applications that don’t need the screen real estate of an entire web browser.

Oh wait, isn’t that what Apollo is supposed to be? Can’t it do Flash and Flex too? Isn’t it also going to package whole applications, not just nuggets of applications?

I finally get it Adobe. I was lukewarm at first. But now that I see how effective these little applications can be, how easy they are to write, and my frustration with platform issues, I totally get it now. Assuming you can leverage your “Version Penetration” for Flash into seats with Apollo, you will kick the crap out of all of those other options.

But now I want Apollo. Crap.

Oh well, my plan is to keep writing the occasional Gadget, really get the whole Ajax thing down, and be better positioned to take advantage of Apollo when it is released.

5 thoughts on “Gadgets and Widgets and Apollo, Oh My!

  1. Not to mention the interaction with the file system that HTML/Javascript can’t do (at least not well). Apollo is going to be a very cool way to enhance an existing web app. It’s the perfect way to handle those little use-cases that either don’t behave well or flat-out won’t work inside a browser.

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  2. Okay, call me confused. What exactly is required to translate a Vista gadget to OS X? I’ve dissected a few OS X widgets, and aside from having bits of code and graphics in the right folder structure, there’s absolutely nothing Mac-specific about it.

    FYI, you might also want to check out the Dashcode development environment, currently in beta (and scheduled for regular release as part of XCode in 10.5 later this year). Free download from Apple, provided you have a Mac to run it on. I would guess that this would make your cross-platform development even more of a copy-and-paste endeavor.

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  3. Packaging the Gadgets versus Widgets is different. Granted it’s not too difficult. My problem is that there is any difference. IT’s HTML, and JavaScript. I shouldn’t have to repackage.

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  4. Check out yourminis.com when you get a chance. Just released an apollo desktop client last night. all the widgets built for yourminis run on webpages, yourminis startpage, and now desktop through apollo. here is the information to try it out: http://blog.yourminis.com/2007/03/desktop_widgets.html

    we also have an api developer group for those interested in building widgets on this platform. the next release will provide a way to publish these custom developed widgets into the yourminis community with all the functionality of our standard widgets including the ability to track their usage.

    send me an email if you are interested in joining the api group…

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