Google Releases Gadget Desktop Designer

The gadget wars just keep getting hotter. Microsoft’s Gadgets released an SDK a few weeks ago, Yahoo!’s got their whole gadget (sorry, widget) thing going on. Even Opera has widgets these days.
Google makes the latest push by releasing Google Desktop Gadget Designer. It looks like a graphical interface that simplifies building gadgets.
What’s interesting about all this gadget/widget stuff is how each player is looking to better position themselves on the desktop ecosystem. It’s all implicit acknowledgement that the Web browser, however powerful, will eventually give way to more discrete, umm, “widgets” of functionality that will live all over your desktop experience. Microsoft’s Live Gadgets are advertised to run seamlessly in Vista’s upcoming Sidebar. Google’s Gadgets which run in their My Google interface can also be leveraged on their desktop download. Even Adobe is looking to re-introduce Flash and PDF as technologies that live away from the browser and on the desktop through their Apollo initiative.
It’s an interesting trend that challenges both technologists and interaction designers to think about information and functionality in smaller, more independent forms.

7 Comments Google Releases Gadget Desktop Designer

  1. Josh

    I don’t think that the browser will ever completely disappear. We all visit sites that we’ve never been to before. I can’t imagine the hassle of getting a special widget or Apollo app for every source I want to see, especially if I have intention of returning.
    All these Gadgets, Widgets, and whatever else they’re being called, feel like a big semi-useless bandwagon to me. I fell in love with Konfabulator widgets early on, but they all disappeared from my systems in time. It’s so much simpler to get that information, such as weather, on my Google homepage.
    On the other hand, I’m not completely against the idea of widgets, if they’re implemented well, and give me something I don’t already have. For instance, I like the idea of a wireless connection strength widget. However, the icon in my taskbar has the same functionality, and it’s smaller. Screen real estate is very important to me. I know that special shortcut keys can hide or show widgets, but that feels like extra work. Maybe I’m just too picky.

  2. Aran

    I had the same experience with Konfabulator. After a month, I just got bored with it. Since I open up my browser anyways, I don’t really have a problem with using it to find information. Its not like I just want to turn on my computer and look at my desktop.
    The Adobe Apollo article you linked reeked of hype. “Leverage” should be retired as a buzzword. That is such a word that any use of it nowadays makes me think that the entire enterprise is being over-hyped.

  3. Richard Ziade

    Hmmm. Interesting.
    I wonder if containing all that Internet “stuff” in one place is actually very appealing to people. We don’t want a bunch of clutter on our desktop. We want to go somewhere for our information. Very interesting.
    What if it’s just a sidebar?

  4. Jay

    I think widgets are useful for specific tasks, a thesaurus lookup, a weather check, a calculator, etc… These widgets are a regular part of my day. When I’m in Word, it is great to quickly “F8” and find a word in a thesaurus.
    There is no one size fits all approach. We will have a collection of applications, widgets, browsers that will fit our everyday work practices.

  5. Jay

    I don’t mind searching in the browser toolbar at the top right. Because ulitmately you’re results will open up in a browser.

  6. Zeh

    I think the success of each widget/gadget system depends pretty much on the implementation, and how that implementation matches the workflow of each user on a system. The first time I used something like this was with Mac OSX’s dashboard, and I found it incredible. Very easy to use (quick shortcut to show all widgets), and it had all the things I usually need (clocks for different time zones, calculator, dictionary). And that’s because I usually HATE all kind of Apple software… but I really fell in love with it.
    I usually work in a PC, so I tried Konfabulator and a few other things as an alternative and none of them worked well (like Mac OSX’s Dashboard) so I gave up. I don’t use anything anymore.
    Like I said, it depends on how each different user likes to control his desktop and his system. I’m a guy who likes to run certain apps all the time when I’m doing something else (for example, WIN+R, CALC, ENTER to run the calculator without even having to move the hand from the keyboard) so that’s why OSX’s Dashboard seemed so good. Konfabulator had some very small differences but that were big enough for it to not be practical for me anymore.
    I guess much of the attraction is because it’s something “new” that “looks cool”, for most people, but I think there’s still some practical use in it. In technical terms, having the stuff running in a “dashboard” the way OSX does it is like having it running on the background, think like a second kde desktop window.. but the fact that you can toggle it on or off and that you can run it from its own specific list is what made it cool.Small, slight differences in implementation made a killer app for me.


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