What are the widgets for?

Since the first news about Opera 9, we all knew that there will be a widget system. Since the first preview build, users can touch them. But until now, Opera community and Opera company, failed to clear the signal about what the widgets are for at all.

I thought that it’s my personal problem, I just couldn’t understand the idea behind widgets. It’s nice, it’s great that it works, but what for? In my opinion, they could also add a small car racing game and/or guitar tuner. But few days ago I found (nota bene on Polish Opera Planet) Szymon Teżewski’s post where he confirms my doubts.
The only result is the praises like “Look, even with the widgets Opera is still the smallest and fastest browser!” – ok, that’s great, but it doesn’t answer the question about the usage of widgets. I can hardly imagine anyone using widgets on a daily routines (of course, there WILL be such people ;)), or that someone will use Opera because of the widgets. It makes no sense to me. Opera needs unique feature set for a longer term. To stay alive they need features that no other browser will want to have or be able to have. I don’t think that Opera will be able to attack IE’s market with them…

But the most crucial review was the C|Net one. I started watching it only because I was hoping that the man will explain the reasons for which he likes the widgets, the bright future of widgets and will show me how can I rise my internet experience with them.

Quote: “One of the exciting new features in Opera 9 beta 1 is widgets. And widgets stay with you, after you close out of your browser. And You can move them around the screen, or disable them completly. And there is a whole page of other widgets that you can download.”

Really, a musthave for any Joe Smith. I’m wondering how it’s possible that I used the web for so long without this great feature.

Update: I did not say that Widgets makes no sense to me. I love Mac OS X widgets, I use Karamba, I can’t wait for KDE 4 plasmoids. Do you follow? It’s a part of desktop, not a part of a software app. I feel strange when someone advertises a feature of some app that works because you can close this app and it still serves you. So why it’s a part of this app???

12 replies on “What are the widgets for?”

People use widgets daily – Rainmeter, Rainalendar and similar – to boost their desktops. If you haven’t been on any teen boards before, try – and look for threads with users’ desktop configurations. People put there calendards, system monitors, hdd free/used space graphs and I’m sure they want to put also piece of web there.

Nie znasz się 😉

A widget is a web application with additional UI capabilities. Imagining you will use widgets just because they are widgets wouldn’t lead anywhere interesting. You would use a widget because it is more convenient than a web page application, or than downloading an executable file.

They are particularly nice for repeated and interrupting tasks. The eye-candy widgets, like the dozens of widget clocks around, leave me cold. So I have a couple widgets I use, and dozens I have thought were cute, fun, or interesting, then thrown away and never looked at again.

In my opinion Opera widgets will show their power when internet applications become very popular. And than Opera can use this power on mobile devices.

Are widgets a dead concept?…

[IMGRIGHT=/Numen/homes/blog/kill-widgets.png]One of Flock developers, Zbigniew Braniecki (aka Gandalf), has written an interesting article [URL=http://diary ……

Overall, I see the purpose of widgets. But the widgets makes sense as a part of the Desktop Environment – Mac OS, KDE, Gnome, Windows.

Riddle: You mean, Or do you know any more popular teenage service… Please, show me people using Opera’s widgets there…

Riddle, wybacz, jestes jedna z ostatnich osob, ktore moga mowic mi na czym sie znam, a na czym nie… Będę wdzięczny jeśli poskromisz swoje ego w kontaktach ze mną.

I just started using them and I find the weather widgets of great use. I don’t want to load a whole webpage every time just for a quick look at temperature especially with my modem connection

I guess here is where we have fundamental differences. In my view the truly great thing Opera has done is precisely to free widgets from the lock-in to a particular desktop environment. This is the Web approach, what the Web did for documents a decade earlier. Before the Web you had to convert documents from one environment to the next. This gave a huge benefit to Windows which, not by virtue of being best but of being biggest, got a near-monopoly as a consequence.

Tying widgets to the desktop environment means that the user’s preference of enviroment will limit the widgets that are available for him to use. Neither will it please the widget maker who will have to make a separate widget for every environment he cares about. Doing that means more effort for each widget that is made for a purpose and not to promote a desktop environment, and massive duplication of effort for the rest. And who is to say that the desktop is the only, or even the major, user environment?

I think that the widget system is not specialised for pc desktop environment, but for the mobile platform. (PDA/Mobile Phones). This is why there is something called Opera Platform, which is a lot similar to the concept of Opera widgets.

Also, many web2.0 websites don’t support Opera (or even blocked Opera) because webmasters often think opera isn’t capable for certain web applications (of course this isn’t true). Widgets can tell others that Opera can definitely do AJAX

I agree with Gandalf — I see widgets as part of my OS, not part of my browser. Of course my browser is on the air whole day, but when I want some bells and whistles, I’m using separate software, i.e. Miranda IM.

I understand Gandalf’s point about widgets being part of the desktop, but still I fail to see the difference between running a dedicated widgets engine ( that work on 2 OS at best ) and running a web based widgets engine ( aka Opera ).

One can perfectly use Opera solely as a widgets engine and never use it for its web/mail/irc/bittorrent client.

As Jonny said, web based widgets work the same on ANY web enabled computer/device. The web approach free the users and developers of the OS.

And to answer your question : Widgets are for what YOU want.

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