A few weeks ago I've attended a night conference with several of our R&D team members at the Google-Israeli-center.
It was a pleasant evening at one of the highest buildings in Tel-Aviv (it has a nice view). Besides meeting some of Google’s professionals and enjoying their hospitality, they ran 5 mini-lectures of 15-20 minutes each on some of the Google's leading projects.
The 5 topics the presented were:
1. Google-API and GData
3. Google-OpenSource projects
4. Google Web Toolkit (GWT)
Although, it was only a glimpse and no major innovations arose in those short lectures, it did trigger our brain cells to come up with some cool applications for SharedBook.
One of the POCs (Proof of Concept) that we created shortly afterwords was the SharedBook-Picasa-Google-Gadget. This gadget creates a book that is auto-populated with the photos of your Picasa album. Currently this album has to be public - “unlisted albums”, as Google calls them, are not supported.
Why should you favor using a Google-Gadget over a simple div / iframe in your web pages?
The main advantages that we found are:
1. Google has a huge Google-Gadget repository that reaches a large audience. Publishing your gadget there has a better chance of creating a buzz.
2. Google-Gadget special services – the Google-Gadget can use some services that you cannot use from a proprietary div / iframe. For example, persistency. Google-Gadget allows you to store data on Google servers, and fetch it later.
3. Interoperability between Google-Gadgets. You can have several gadgets, each has its own capabilities, and they can share or exchange information.
4. Incorporation of a gadget into iGoogle. iGoogle is a kind of a homepage you may set and customize in your Google account. You can easily add Google-Gadgets into this page.
5. Using Google-Gadgets in your Desktop applications. A presentation on this can be found here.
Some Disadvantages we encountered:
1. Editor - the current GG editor is limited, uncomfortable and buggy.
2. A black box – the gadget performs certain functionalities behind the scenes which in complex gadget you might want to debug or see its code. You can tell what’s happening there only to a certain extent.
Need some tips and references to get you started with Google-Gadgets?
Here are some of which we used:
2. Check your Google-Gadget both in Firefox and in IE. The behavior differs!!!
3. Getting started – can be found here.
4. Google-Gadget Editor - can be found here.
Make sure you sign in to your Google account first. This way you can open and save files to your account.
5. Google-Gadgets Repository - can be found here.
Overall, we had a very positive experience with the Google-Gadget.
We would be glad to hear your thoughts, both about the Google-Gadget in general and about our SB-Picasa-Gadget.
What would you add / improve?