SixApart's Typepad is about to announce Widgets for bloggers. And this is about to simplify the life of million of bloggers who until now had more or less to deal with placing html code in their template to customize and enrich their blogs with third party features.
First this has nothing to do with Yahoo/Apple desktop Widgets. Typepad will offer users a much easier and seamless way to add side features (feedburner, technorati, Pandora favorites songs,…) to your blog without the necessity to go the service's website (say Pandora) and do the usual copy/paste of the html code to include the mentioned feature. Those features are usually placed in side bars or Typelist. This was particularly not friendly for non-versed bloggers and we believe this will make 3rd party blog features much more popular.
Typepad offers a library of widgets (screenshot above) including for now 32 items to choose from in 6 categories (Games/ JobSearch / Music / Photos videos / Publishing / Search). You can subscribe this XML feed to be alerted on new items coming up. If you have a Typepad account all you have to do is click on a widget, edit the title, choose the placement and then publish it to your blog. No code, no mess, no margin for mistakes. For some reason at the moment I am writing this post some widgets have not been activated yet but it should be coming soon.
“…it is far easier to install a widget on TypePad than on any other blogging service. TypePad bloggers simply choose a widget from the TypePad Widget Directory . The blogger configures the widget at the builder's site and then clicks once to post it to their TypePad blog. After the user previews the widget on their TypePad blog, they can confirm their selection and the widget will appear on their blog”
I tried the feature (you can see an example of integration of Sphere blog search on my Typepad Blog ) and it works quite well, you can easily relocate or remove widgets, and I believe it will save me some time from now on. However savvy bloggers who like to play with html snippets to customize their own widgets (for example to resize or remove some text) will probably go old-school and will still do it manually.
But the true novelty is that (at last!) Typepad decided to open their APIs for the community to build new widgets and enlarge the choice of services and items that will be available to Typepad blog users. The how-to is explained here.
Good ideas never come alone. WordPress released a few days ago also SiderBar widgets as well as APIs for developers to build new items which is quite discussed. The easiness of integration in a blog is comparable to Typepad. One thing I liked there, is the possibility in a nice Ajax interface to edit your own text and place it in the side bar. The widget catalog (recent comments/ feed/ Flickr / Delicious and others) is not huge yet, but it sure will be soon. More here and there.
Blog platforms are making it easier for users to offer their readers nice looking and interesting blogs and this is good news. This should put a new quality standard in the blog plateforms industry.