Are widgets popular?

Javascript is popular, but are widgets? We're well into 2008 now and 2007 was the year of the widget. ;)

I’ve been looking into widgets as they are defined by Opera and contributed to the W3C.

I believe widgets originally came from Apple dashboard. I personally don’t like it, though then again I don’t like MacOSX. Debian & dwm are much better. :)

So I tried some random widgets in Opera 9.27 yesterday and a couple of elements of the widgets struck me. The manage widgets didn’t divulge any security information and it’s kinda basic:

Manage Opera widgets 9.27

The next thing I worried about was since widgets are often touted in the sense of mobiles and scalability with SVG… doesn’t the fixed dimension properties of widgets kill that argument? I looked at the sources of a couple of widgets and the config.xml generally defines a widget’s width & height and generally the SVG graphics that go with it do too. I can’t figure out how to change widget size (scale!) on my desktop machine’s desktop. A difference between Widget&Web applcations is the viewport and I much prefer Web applications in a fullscreen tabbed environment. Floating windows is soo… Windows.

Anyway, the widget experience on mobile devices is probably better.
Opera mini by observation is Opera’s most popular mobile product. However since it’s Java MIDP based, it can’t run widgets on the mobile’s “desktop”. Doh. In fact anything Java I’ve discounted for this reason.

What about Opera Mobile then? Shurrely that has widget support? No it doesn’t on Windows Mobile 6 or the S60 in my test. Oh no, this isn’t looking good.

Widgets & Nokia

Ok, there must be another widget implementation! The Nokia Web runtime for example. “Unleashing the power of the Web with Widgets” the headline on Nokia’s page reassuringly says. Then it links the dead WebKit S60 port. Ummm… ok. I never tried widgets in this browser. Lets give application/x-gadget or even application/x-opera-widgets a try. Unsurprisingly widget support by Nokia does not work on my Three E65 device. I did find a porting guide, but I can’t find the Web runtime. WTF is it?

Update: You need an N95 8G with Nokia Feature Pack 2 to unleash widgets on Nokia. Unfortunately my collegue’s brand new N95 from Germany does not have FP2 installed. Goddam, upgrading Nokias requires Windows, time and an ability to endure pain. I suspect it’s even harder to upgrade if you have an N95 with Vodafone Live! branding, like it is with my Three E65 device.

So are the state of widgets really this bad? Or have I missed something? If we cut the hype, we should just call them (Offline) Web applications, in the near future.


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