Google offers mini-programs for use on other sites
By Eric Auchard
Google Inc. said on Tuesday it is making it easier to add hundreds of
miniature programs to independent Web sites, in a move that brings
handy features to users instead of making users rely on Google.com.
The Web search leader has jumped ahead of rivals -- such as Apple
Computer Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. -- who offer
mini-applets or "gadgets" when the user has installed special software
on individual computer desktops.
Google Gadgets, which have previously been available for users to add
to a Web user's personalized Google homepage or their own computers
via Google Desktop software, are now available for Web page owners to
add to their own sites.
"Instead of making people come to Google, now Google can be found
everywhere," Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li said of the push
to make such programs available via other sites.
Web site publishers can choose from a gallery of 1,220 so-called
"Google Gadgets" -- small bits of code that function as dynamic
applications when installed on a Web page. Less than two dozen of the
applications come from Google. Most are built by outside programmers
seeking distribution for the programs.
Google Gadgets range from a miniature look-up for Google Maps or
Google Calendar to independent applications ranging from financial
information to sports to communication tools and jokes, horoscopes or
geometric puzzle game Tetris.
A list of Google Gadgets can be found at
To add a particular gadget to a Web page, users can with a few clicks
locate the HTML source code of the program and insert it into their
own Web sites using standard Web publishing tools.
"This is part of the movement to make the Web into a platform rather
than forcing users to rely on desktop software," Li said.
Google calls these new Web-based programs "Universal Gadgets" to
distinguish them from existing "Desktop Gadgets" designed to run only
on Google sites or on a user's own computer desktop.
Adam Sah, who carries the title Google Gadgets architect, said in an
interview. "Gadgets are easy to create so it's something (programmers)
can do in their spare time."
Yahoo, through its acquisition of the Silicon Valley start-up
Konfabulator last year, boasts more than 3,244 Widgets, or mini
programs, that range from Web search tools to games, news feeds and
But users must install and run an 11-megabyte program on a PC for such
programs to work on Windows-based computers http://widgets.yahoo.com/
Similarly, Apple Computer and Microsoft offer hundreds of such
programs to Web users.
While Google has jumped out ahead of rivals, Microsoft, Yahoo and
others are likely to make their own collections of mini-applications
ready to run on other Web sites, Li said.
Before these mini-Web based applications can go mainstream, however,
Google and the others will have to do away with the need to "cut and
paste" code and make it possible to install such programs on Web sites
in a few clicks, she said.
Eventually, Web users can look forward to a time when they combine
such mini-applications from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or others to
create hybrid applications, known as mashups.
Start-ups like Widgetbox http://www.widgetbox.com/ are pointing the
way by offering a marketplace of different mini-applets for users to
add to sites, while Ning http://www.ning.com/ , a company begun by
Netscape co-founder Marc Andreesen, offers a simple way for users to
create whole sites out of such Web-based applications, Li said.
"We are not ready at this point to discuss that," Google's Sah said.
"Gadgets and Widgets are all moving very quickly."
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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