Wolfram Alpha expands with go-anywhere widgets

Wolfram Alpha has created a widget builder which lets users construct data-mining widgets within a browser to be shared across personal websites and social networks

Wolfram Alpha has launched an in-browser widget builder that lets users design, share and display interactive widgets that plug into the 'computational knowledge engine'.

Launched in 2009, Wolfram Alpha's engine uses a massive dataset and the program Mathematica to generate graphics and answers to a simple or complex queries. On Tuesday, Wolfram Research — the company behind Wolfram Alpha — said it would let people create widgets that include defined queries but leave the variables open to other users. These widgets can be embedded in websites and shared across social networks.

Wolfram Alpha image

Users can create and control the variables of the widget from within the browser. Screenshot: Jack Clark

Queries could include such things as the distance between two cities, comparisons between traded stocks and advanced mathematical computations.

"A blogger writing about a particular company might add live data about its share price relative to its competitor," Jon McLoone, Wolfram Research Europe's director of business development, told ZDNet on Tuesday. "A forum on childcare might add a calculator for child growth expectations or let readers query the popularity of baby names."

According to McLoone, the widget builder is a step towards Wolfram Research's goal of making "all the world's systematic knowledge available, accessible and computable by anyone".

In addition to being shared across websites and social networks, the widgets created using the builder will also be published to Wolfram Alpha's public widget gallery.

Users will be bound by a set of terms and conditions that mean the widgets must be for personal use only and cannot be used on websites that are commercially focused.

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