Yahoo snags widget tool Konfabulator

Yahoo on Monday announced it has acquired Pixoria, a maker of mini applications, or widgets, that be customised to provide information such as Wi-Fi signal strength, stock prices, and traffic conditions.

Pixoria's product, called Konfabulator, is a JavaScript run-time engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets developers access online content without opening a Web browser.

With the acquisition, Yahoo is launching Yahoo Widgets and is offering the Konfabulator service free. Previously, Konfabulator had charged US$19.95 per user license.

Already more than 1,000 widgets have been created by third party developers, and are available for download at

Yahoo plans to make the widgets available through XML feeds. In this way, the widgets provide another means, beside a Web browser, to access Yahoo content and other Web content, according to Toni Schneider, vice president of Yahoo's Developer Network.

The sheer variety of existing widgets -- ranging from clocks that show the time in various locations around the world, to calendar applications, to battery monitors -- shows that Internet users want more than what Yahoo can deliver via a single Web page, Schneider said.

"It is letting us go beyond the browser. This is creating new ways for users to access our services rather than just go to," Schneider said.

Several of Yahoo's services, such as its online calendar, become more powerful if users can access them from multiple places and embed them within other sites or applications, according to Schneider.

"This is way beyond what we can do on a single Web page," Schneider added.

The acquisition of Pixoria adds fuel to Yahoo's budding Developer Network Initiative, which is meant to open up all parts of Yahoo to third-party developers. Web search rival Google is moving in a similar direction with its Google Web APIs service, which lets developers query more than 8 billion Web pages directly from their own computer programs, according to Google officials. Google's service uses Web services standards SOAP and WSDL.

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