Posts Tagged ‘Widgets’

App Widget Picker for Android

June 13th, 2011

This app organizes your widget list in Android so you don’t have to scroll through multiple size configurations for each widget. The various sizes get added to what appears to be links to the actual widget.
Hooray for more organization and customization!

I love Android.

Amplify’d from www.talkandroid.com

For those of you that like tricking out your home screen, you know widgets are a must. However, many of you might have noticed that having a lot of widgets means your long press widget menu is long and clustered. Thankfully,  boombuler over at xda has thought up a solution.

Enter AppWidgetPicker. Looking at the screenshot, you might notice that you don’t see “Grooveshark 4×1,” “Grooveshark 4×2,” etc. Instead, you’ll notice the subtle “(x widgets).” For those of you who like staying organized this install is an absolute must. You’ll no longer have to sort through 12 different minimalistic text widgets in order to get down to your Pandora widget. It’s such a simple concept and boombuler pulls it off so well. The installation is pretty simple and it will work with all non-sense based launchers.

Hit up the thread on xda to see more! Thanks again boombuler!

Read more at www.talkandroid.com

 

How to build a widget – Promoting the widget

February 25th, 2009

[Part 5 in a 5 part series titled “How to build a widget]

The widget is ready.  It is sitting on your website with a viral deployment scheme.  But the big question is  “How do people find out about your widget”?

5) Promoting the widget

If you happen to be Amazon and your main website is generating tens of thousands of hits a day, a simple graphic/link on your main page to your widget would be enough.  But everybody’s website does not generate thousands of page requests a day.

Widget Galleries.

I mentioned before (Part 4) that there are widget galleries.  Galleries are always a good place to promote your widget. However,  unless you have a run-away-hit, you are never going get more then 100+ widget installs from a simple Gallery site.

Get Creative.

The best way to promote you new widget (If you are not already getting thousands of hits on your own site) is to get some one who is receiving thousands of hits to install/and or write about it.

This blog, Widgets lab, writes about widgets every day.  They also get a couple thousand hits every day.   Write a nice email to Derek or Avatar explaining why your widget should be profiled, and they may just write about it. 

Other places to get your widget mentioned would be Web 2.0 tech blogs such as www.Mashable.com, www.ReadWriteWeb.com,  or even a general tech blog like www.Slashdot.com.

These sites reach millions of users everyday and are good place to jump start your widget.  You may have to offer to do Pete Cashmore’s laundry for a week or buy CmdrTaco a Starbucks gift card, but just maybe they will give your widget a write up it deserves.

So if you made it this far in the series you are on your way to creating your own little piece on the web,  your very own widget.  Good luck.  See you on the other side.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

How to build a widget – Deploying the widget

January 13th, 2009

[Part 4 in a 5 part series titled “How to build a widget]

The code is written.  The widget is complete.  The idea you started with is neatly contained in the world’s greatest widget.  Now you just have to figure out how to get it to everybody.

Part 4) – Deploying the widget. 

Since widgets are “portable pieces of code”  you have to find a way to give this to all of your future fans.  Easy right?  Since the widget is just normally an HTML or Javascript snippet you can just trust that would be widget users know how to grab the code and embed it on their site.  Not Exactly.

The first step in deploying your widget is creating a web site.  The web site should at the very least allow potential widget owners to know what the widget does and allow then to copy the embed code.  An example of a very simple widget site is the very first widget I developed,  www.JunkIWant.com.   JunkIWant is a Amazon wishlist widget.   No Logins.  Nothing fancy.  Just a website that gives clear instructions on how to grab the widget code.

However, you can’t be certain that just because you supply the HTML/Javascript that a blog owner will know how to grab the code and embed it into their site.   This is where widget galleries and widget dashboards help out.

Widget galleries are sites like www.widgetbox.com and www.widgipedia.com.  These sites allow you to upload your widget and gives widget users an easy interface to grab the widget code.  There is a slight learning curve on uploading your widget, but each site has FAQs and forums to help you along.  The galleries also allow you to track widget installs and some domain specific stats.  They also showcase your widget in various galleries throughout the web.  For instance, www.widgetbox.com partners with many of the larger social sites like Picazo and Bebo. 

The only drawback with  gallery sites is that they take widget users away from your web page.

Widget dashboards are sites that like www.clearspring.com and www.gigya.com.  These sites differ from the gallery sites since they give you a widget dashboard to put on your own site.  The dashboard simplifies the embedding process with a very easy to use interface to grab the widget.  They also provide widget tracking and domain specific stats.  The proccess is pretty simple to add the dashboard to your site (the dashboards are widgets in their own right).  I actually use the www.gigya.com dashboard (Wildfire) on one of my widget sites,  www.MyVGift.com.

clearspring dashboard

clearspring dashboard

Widget galleries and widget dashboard sites greatly enhance the ability to deploy and distribute widgets.  And the best part all of the distribution tools mentioned are free to use.

So knock yourself out.  You spent alot of time on your widget.  You should use every tool available to make it as easy for your potential users to get a hold of your widget.

Next – Part 5 - Promoting the widget.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

How to build a widget – Creating the widget

December 26th, 2008

[Part 3 in a 5 part series titled “How to build a widget]

You thought of an idea.  You chose the tech.  Now it is time to get busy.

Part 3) – Creating the widget. 

Widgets are self contained mini-websites and have to be treated the same way you would go about creating a website. 

[Quick definitions:  The “widget user” refers to the person grabbing the widget, while the “page visitor” refers to the person viewing the widget on the widget user’s page/blog] 

First, determine if the widget will be static or dynamic.

Static widgets are widgets that are exactly the same for every widget user that grabs the widget code.  An election countdown widget would be an example of a static widget.  The widget developer (you) only has to create the desired effect and code it without relying on any dynamic data. 

Dynamic widgets are widgets that change for each widget user embedding the code.   MyVGift.com is an example of a dynamic widget.  The widget user is each assigned a unique ID that is rendered to the object tag at the time of the web page is served.  The widget then uses the ID to pull data from a web service to determine the widget user’s Virtual Gift list.

Static widgets are normally less complicated and can be deployed without much complication.  Dynamic widgets require external sources supporting and possibly storing data for the widget.

Whichever widget type you choose is entirely up to you.  There have been extremely succesfull widgets that are static:  Maukie the virtual cat and dynamic:  RateItAll

Maukie the virtual cat

Maukie the virtual cat

Second,  allow customization.

Someones blog or Myspace page is an expression of themselves.  Why would they want to install your ugly neon pink widget on their green background Myspace page?  Give widget users the ability to customize the size/shape/skin/wording of your widget.  Page visitors do not want to have your widget stand out (in a bad way) on the widget users page.  Give the widget users the option to allow the widget to blend into the look and feel of their site.

Finally,  make your widget friendly to the widget’s users page/blog.  This means make it small and available. 

Nobody wants to install a widget on their blog that is 2.3 megs.  This will kill the experience for the page visitor.  Generally try to make your widget size under 100K.  Also make sure you host your widget on a respectable server.  Your widget is going to be served up every time the widget user’s page is served.  This is orders of magnitude more times then if you were just hosting a web site on your server.  If a widget user installs your widget and gets 3k hits a day on their site, then the widget has to be able to be served up 3k times without any slowdown (plus support all of the other widget users).     

Next – Part 4 - Deploying the widget.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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