We discovered 3 impressive new widgets today, from Google, Blinkx and 30 Boxes, and we decided to write about all of them in one post. Widgets are the non-developer’s “small pieces loosely joined,” they are the hottest example right now of data portability on the web. They are fun and useful.
Everyone’s got a “widget strategy.” There are widget marketplaces (see WidgetBox, LabPixies and Wigipedia), widget blogs (see WidgetsLab and Widgetoko). There was a whole conference on widgets earlier this month.
Perhaps this post is just us trying to get it out of our system once and for all – but in all likelihood widgets are here to stay. They provide a lot of functionality to website publishers. Widgets are in their infancy, though, and we’re all still learning how to best use them. After this I promise to never embed 3 widgets in one blog post again.
Audio and video search engine Blinkx now lets website publishers place a wall of search result previews on any site using a widget. The Wall below displays search results for the phrase Net Neutrality. Give it a chance to load, it’s way too slow, hopefully that can be improved. The display is fed by RSS – so its contents will change as new search results become available. It could be over the top, but the size and number of nodes in the wall can be changed – this is the “tiny” version. I’ve used Blinkx feeds in the past to create, for example, a page listing the most recent audio and video news about Zimbabwe. This Blinkx Wall is a much more interesting way to display search results. The down side of this is that search results often include video that’s been removed for copyright reasons – video producers certainly wouldn’t want search driving viewers to their work (albeit on other sites). We found out about this widget at Beet.TV, one of the best places to learn about video online.
“Net Neutrality” in the News
Two more widgets, from Google and 30 Boxes, after the fold.
The always innovative online calendar company 30 Boxes has released a very sharp looking calendar mashup tool that anyone can use to display RSS feeds and iCal data in an embedded calendar. Called 30 Boxed, it displays items organized by date on a calendar. You don’t have to have a 30 Boxes account to use the tool, but this will probably be great promotion for the company’s services.
You can combine multiple RSS feeds, including those for images on sites like Flickr. This could be used to push calendar updates or chronicle events and phenomena. For simplicity’s sake, the example below is displaying a single feed – photos tagged “Facebook” in Flickr.
Searchable Google Map
The Google Maps API team released a new widget this afternoon – a very simple, searchable, embedded map and wizard. In the example below, we started at the location of tomorrow night’s TechCrunch 8 party in NYC. The widget wizard for this one automatically creates a Google Map API Key for your website, but you may want to check the Terms of Service before using this one extensively.
Try some searches in the search box. This took about 2 minutes to add to this post with the help of the Wizard. For a different take on map widgets, see also Platial’s new MapKit.
What’s Close to the TechCrunch Party?