Desktop Widgets on the Web

widgepedia.jpgRecently, we tried our hand and developing a Mac OS X Dashboard widget, the Solar Viewer. We built the Yahoo! Widget version earlier in the year with some success–at least as far the number of downloads are concerned. Having developed now for two of the more popular widget platforms (we haven’t looked at Google Gadgets, Opera Widgets, or DesktopX, yet) there are few interesting sites in Dashboard and Yahoo! Widget world worth pointing out. These sites are great for finding new widgets or for promoting ones that you’ve developed.

For the Mac OS X Dashboard there is of course the official Apple Dashboard site, which includes a Top 50 listing. (The Solar Viewer is currently #34, is #20 moving up the charts (updated 11/16/06) between a Tarot Reading widget and one that links to movie trailers.) Yahoo! Widgets has a similar directory although it could use a Top 50 (or some other way of browsing) as widgets get quickly buried on their site.

Mac Update has an extensive list of Dashboard widgets and they actually went to the trouble of posting the Solar Viewer and then emailing us, inviting us to become a developer. Once you’ve signed up as a developer, you get access to tools to track the number of downloads, rating and comments. You can also start an adword campaign to promote your software, which is why Mac Update is so helpful in getting you started. Still, the tools are well designed and the site is relatively easy to use, whether you’re looking for widgets or promting one.

Dashboard Widgets has the latest news on Apple Dashboard widgets directed primarily at the widget developer. However, there is also an excellent showcase which contains over 1,500 widgets for Mac OS X.

Softpedia is a massive collection of software of all kinds widgets included, but I’ve found it difficult to search and to use.

Widgipedia has a decidedly “Web 2.0â€? look and feel and it is “Beta” (of course). The concept is a good one, although it doesn’t get as nearly much traffic as some of the other more established directories listed here do, perhaps it will in time. The site keeps track of the High Rated, Latest Widgets and has all sorts of “viralâ€? software tools for emailing and embedding links and RSS feeds of their categories. The site accepts and contains a variety of desktop widgets; Dashboard, Yahoo!, and even DesktopX ones can be found.

WidgetWorld is yet another widget directory this one is based in the Netherlands. It looks like they’re just getting started as they only have about two dozen widgets. Although, it was nice to see they already had the Solar Viewer in their collection.

Finally, I came across The Flip Side, a well-designed blog for Mac Dashboard widget developers. There’s a number of resources for developers including what must be the world’s only podcast for widget developers. There are also links to what appear to be “widget only” design and development firms such as Taco Widgets, WidgetMachine, among others. Flip Side promises more posts and podcasts soon. We’ll be watching.

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