Monday, December 15, 2008

Desktop Widgets

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about Kettering University and two items the instructors used with their students were of interest to me – Widgets and River City. I was not familiar with desktop widgets so I decided to learn more about desktop Widgets and share the information in this blog.

A desktop Widget is a stand-alone, task-oriented application with a web browser running the applications. The purpose of the desktop Widget is to provide services to the user with the user choosing what to place in the Widget.

There are quite a few Widgets to choose from:
· Dashboard Widgets from Apple Macintosh
· Microsoft Gadgets in Windows Vista and in Windows Live system
· gDesklets, Adesklets, and Screenlets for Linux systems
· Google Web Toolkit
· Yahoo! Widgets
· Klips in Klipfolio
· Opera Widgets - will need to download the Opera Browser
· Mobile widgets such as webwag, Zumobi, Mywidz, Plusmo, Widsets
· Adobe AIR

There are other types of widgets which can easily be found by searching on the Internet but which Widget is right for you? Basically Widgets are small bundles of software that let users choose graphics and information that sits on the desktop of the computer or a mobile phone. This is a partial list of the Widget sites you will find.

I downloaded the Yahoo Widgets and added a few widgets. I chose iTunes Remote, Nu Jongg and Calvin & Hobbs Fetcher. When I selected the iTunes Remote icon it opened iTunes on my computer and the Mini Player appeared because that was the last setting I had for iTunes. Without the Mini Player previously selected iTunes Remote will open the iTunes program on your computer. From the main iTunes program you can select a particular CD or make certain settings and then minimize the iTunes program and use the iTunes Remote icon. From the graphic below the iTunes Remote icon is on the left and the Mini Player icon is on the right. One difference I found between the two is the ability to open the program from the Mini Player to choose CDs and/or settings which cannot be done with the iTunes Remote.

The Yahoo Widget can sit on the desktop with all icons showing or collapsed down to one Widget and there is an option to hide the Widget. When the Widget is hidden one can easily scroll over the edge of the hidden Widget and it will appear again to easily select an item. Once an item is selected the Widget will again be hidden. I find that to be a nice feature. That way the Widget isn’t covering up any other icons on the desktop. Another feature I found nice was the ability to shade the desktop for better viewing of a particular Widget.

Collapsed Widget on the left with one icon showing

View of an opened Widget on the right

I know that I have only scratched the surface for all the uses and capabilities of Widgets so to help in your research of widgets I have hyperlinked the Widgets listed above.

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