Go wild with widgets

What a desktop companion can do for you

Have you embraced the widget movement yet? If not, you will.

Widgets are small, often Internet-connected mini-applications that live on your PC, gathering information, keeping you informed and entertaining you.

Widgets -- also called "gadgets," "objects," "desklets," "docklets" and other names -- can bring you TV, RSS feeds, clocks, weather data, financial information, sports scores, music libraries, real-time system information and a huge variety of other content.

The new generation of widgets and widget-engines emerged in 2000, pioneered by start-ups. The widget concept gained widespread attention with its inclusion in an early beta of Windows Vista and a shipping version of the Mac OS.

Widgets typically run on a proprietary "widget engine" application that must be installed and resident in memory. Most widget platforms offer Web sites where builders can upload and users can download free widgets.

Meet the widgets

Yahoo Widgets (called Konfabulator before Yahoo bought Pixoria in July 2005) is a free JavaScript and XML widget engine that runs on both Mac OS X and Windows.

Microsoft Gadgets is a Windows program, the main version of which is designed to run "docked" to the side of the desktop on a "Sidebar" (maximized windows won't cover them) or on the desktop. Gadgets will ship with the forthcoming Windows Vista operating system. A Windows XP version will become available for download around that time as well. Gadgets run on three platforms: Windows, Web sites (live.com, and others) and on mobile devices. Gadgets are created with DHTML or Microsoft.NET-based languages.

Apple Dashboard based on HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), was first bundled with Mac OS X 10.4. Dashboard widgets do not live on the desktop, but come to the foreground en masse with a hotkey.

Google Desktop is a Windows XP and Windows 2000 indexed file-search utility and widget engine. It displays widgets as "panels" that can exist in the Sidebar or removed and placed on the desktop as well as more graphical "gadgets."

Stardock DesktopX is a shareware application that shipped in 2000 for Windows that emphasizes user-built mini-applications called "objects," "widgets" or "gadgets," depending on whether they're designed to run on a running DesktopX instance, DesktopX-dependent executables or as stand-alone applications, respectively.

Kapsules is a freeware, Windows-based widget application based on ActiveScript and the .NET framework. The site was down at deadline.

AveDesk is a donationware program for Windows XP (mini-applications are called "desklets" and "docklets") based on Visual C++.

SuperKaramba is a Python-based Linux widget application for -- and included with -- the KDE desktop.

Serious Samurize is a Windows application (widgets are called "configs") that emphasizes the display of system information (available RAM, etc.) 2002

Serence Klipfolio is a Windows 2000 and Windows XP RSS-centric widget application that can be used to scan RSS feeds, then alert you when your search or keyword criteria are met. Rather than spreading single-purpose widgets around your desktop, KlipFolio enables you to cram a large number of items into one purple info box.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mike Elgan

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?