Why Widgets Remind Me of Mobile Development

by Raj Singh

So over the past several months, I've been spending quite a bit of time following, reading and developing widgets for a variety of platforms. I've classified widgets into three platforms:

1. Web - These would be widgets you would embed or develop for portals such as Myspace, iGoogle, Netvibes or Facebook
2. Desktop - These tend to be more full-featured widgets since they operate on the desktop; examples include the Google sidebar, Yahoo Konfabulator or Vista widgets
3. Mobile - This would include a variety of mobile widget platforms including Nokia's Widsets or ULocate's Where.com

Anyways, in 9 months of widget development and exploration, this is what I've noticed:

1. When designing my widget, I need to optimize for different tiers. I design a medium-tier version for the web where I may not have a lot of CPU or access to certain functionality. I design and build a lower-end version for the mobile and a high-end version for the desktop.
2. For each platform (web, desktop, mobile), I've had to port across a variety of vendors - in some cases, this may take as long as a week.
3. More recently, some of my widgets were being denied submission for failing to meet certain style guidelines such as title color or font.
4. I signed agreements with some vendors to gain access to special functionality such as access to location information or file-system access on the computer.
5. Once I submitted my widget into the provider's directory, promotion and discovery became another major hurdle


alex de jong
2007-08-13 01:32:45
Recognizable! We've recently developed a "Reb me" VOIP widget for Facebook recently and encountered many of the issues and mechanisms you describe. For us it made perfect sense to want to extend our functionality to Facebook, because it is something that we would want to use ourselves as Facebook users, and thought we could add value FB. But development was a learning curve for us, for many of the reasons you set out above. Yes, ad supported revenue shares.....I wonder when they will be upon us.
Fabricio Bloisi
2007-08-21 13:44:08
Hello Raj. I agree with you: These two platforms have similar constraints. regards!