Dave Sohigian

6May/080

Clearspring Widgets

Over the weekend at Portland Barcamp I attended a session by Justin Thorp from Clearspring called "Death of the Website and Rise of the Widget" . Although Justin admitted that the title of his talk was mainly meant to provoke people to attend, it was a worthwhile session. I have created a few igoogle and netvibes widgets recently, and his company is working towards the Holy Grail of widgets: making it possible to develop a widget that will run on any platform. The netvibes widgets I have made run on several platforms, but Clearspring widgets supposedly run on 26 different platforms.

I have already noticed some strange behavior of the widgets I have created depending on the platform they are running on. I am curious to port one of them to Clearspring and see how it functions. Justin said that you can get a Clearspring widget listed in the various widget/gadget catalogs as well. This has been an issue with Netvibes: I can't list my Netvibes widgets in iGoogle for instance.

The discussion in the session seemed to focus mainly around RSS vs. Widgets. In some ways it is a silly comparison, but several people had the concern that widgets would eventually be used in favor of RSS. This could lead to problems since widgets are typically branded and their look/feel is controlled by the author. RSS on the other hand is pretty much pure information. There is, of course, a place for both. If you want interactivity then RSS doesn't have much to offer. But aggregating widgets is a challenge. They are both used to offer chunks of functionality from a site or application and in many ways are complimentary.

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