Sunday, April 11, 2010

Widget technologies on different mobile platforms

I wrote this paper for the knowledge exchange. This tries to put all sorts of "widget" technologies into context, including Android widgets (you need free registration to get this page).

I could not figure out, how to place a direct link, just look for widget.pdf on the page. Update: direct link to the document.

Back to the main issue: I found a nice confusion with regards to the widget term itself. Basically there are two schools: one interprets widget from the user's point of view, as a mini-app on a default screen, e.g. home screen, the other approaches from the technology point of view and considers widgets as locally installed web applications. There are interesting corner cases. For example Android widgets are full-featured widgets from the user's point of view but not widgets from the technology point of view because Android widgets are not based on web technologies. Blackberry widgets, on the other hand, are based on quite sophisticated web technology engine but they are always full-screen. This is not that an ordinary user would call widget.

Anyway, I am looking forward to your comments either here or on the website. I will also get the direct link to the document, don't worry.

On a personal note, I am back to Budapest from London. The 2-year UK vacation is over. Gee, I started this blog before I moved to London and now I am back. How time flies - particularly in the Android universe.


Janne Morén said...

I've lived in technology-land for most of my life, and I do a fair amount of programming both for my day job and for fun. But I've never once heard your second definition of widget as being related to web technologies in any way. It must be a use specific only to those actually working on and deploying such code.

Gabor Paller said...

Well, I don't live in the technology land, that's one explanation. :-)

I propose to read the referenced paper or if you want something more authorative, this one:

Widgets 1.0: The Widget Landscape (Q1 2008)

For developers, some widgets differ from traditional binary applications in that they are created using the same open technologies used to create web pages. Widget engines mimic, in many ways, the behavior of web browsers: an increasing number are actually built directly on top of web browsers so they are able to render web pages, while others incorporate web browser components such as ECMAScript interpreters. To developers and vendors, this means that most widgets are significantly easier to create than applications developed with lower-level programming languages such as Java and C#.

Gabor Paller said...

Sorry, I deleted two comments in Chinese here. Please, repost your comments in English, please.