Not your portal's pipes: Seeing through widget to the source

It's a luxury to work with smart people, because they take care of saying what needs to be said when one is too busy to do it. Ramin Firoozye and I are working on something, though we won't say what or with whom.

It's a luxury to work with smart people, because they take care of saying what needs to be said when one is too busy to do it.

Ramin Firoozye and I are working on something, though we won't say what or with whom. However, we'll come slightly out of stealth after today I sent him Jeremy Zawodny's posting, JavaScript Badges and Widgets Considered Harmful, and Ramin responded with a blistering but thoughtful reply, because it the issues Jeremy identifies with widgets are something we talk about all Every API needs its outlet. That's where JavaScript and widgets link the road to the rubber of user experience.the time as we work on what it is we are working on.

Jeremy is critical of Flash and JavaScript widgets springing up all over the Web, because:

  • They're a hack. With all the talk of how the web has "become writable" with advent of blogs and self-publishing tools, you'd think that we'd have a better way of getting third party content on to our sites.
  • Site performance.
  • Hard to skin. Seriously.
  • Don't work everywhere.

Ramin responds: "I disagree with every point he makes (other than #2 - Search Engines)" and proceeds to explain why.

Particularly important is that the lack of searchability is a barrier to invasion of user privacy, because the user-configured data, such as the name of friends or one's pictures stored on Flickr say a lot about the user. But Ramin systematically dismantles each concern raised, from performance, to the reasons for and against skinning, as well as the reason widgets exist in the first place.

Jeremy concludes that he'd like to see every badge/widget/gadget build on a discoverable API—because he'd like to see them mashed up through Yahoo Pipes—and we agree with him about the importance of APIs, though there are other and potentially better ways to create connections between disparate services.

But every API needs its outlet, and that's where JavaScript and widgets link the road to the rubber of user experience.

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