Yahoo Updates Its Widgets

    December 12, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The mini-applications provided by Yahoo after its purchases of Pixoria/Konfabulator have received some new entries and a tweaked engine to run them.

The entertainment portal company announced some updates to Yahoo Widgets, and a new version of the Yahoo Widget Engine, 3.0. Yahoo Widgets runs on Windows 2000 or XP, or Macintosh platforms OS X 10.3 and higher. The Konfabulator name has been retired with this release.

Yahoo’s Widgets now include some applications designed by members of the company’s developer network. Among the new applications is an updated Picture Frame, with integration into Yahoo Photos and Flickr. Users can drag and drop pictures onto the frame to upload them to either service.

Search and Maps widgets tie into Yahoo’s online versions of those services. The widgets give users access to them without needing an open web browser. Using APIs available from Yahoo, developers can create widgets for a variety of services and for either Mac or Windows machines.

A JavaScript runtime engine forms the core of Yahoo’s Widgets offering. Its developer wanted to use Perl, but was talked out of it by another engineer at Sun Microsystems in favor of using JavaScript. A third developer helped take the Mac-only application and port it to Windows.

Yahoo supports third-party developers with several resources to build widgets. A reference guide and tutorial on the widget creation process have been made available in PDF, while Photoshop CS and CS2 users can grab a script that turns a layered Photoshop document into a functional widget.

The use of widgets gives Yahoo another way to help keep its users within its network. Other online players like Google and Microsoft offer utilities and toolbars to users as part of overarching brand strategies.

Microsoft has started experimenting with online gadgets as part of the site, while Google’s Desktop combines several of its services like search and Gmail into one PC-based application.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.