Web Office Widgets

Web Office Widgets

Summary: Now that office software is becoming a big part of the Web landscape, we're starting to see widgets (i.e.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Now that office software is becoming a big part of the Web landscape, we're starting to see widgets (i.e. mini web apps) appear that have office functionality. The personalized start page Pageflakes has just introduced a couple of new office "flakes", which is their term for widgets. The new ones are a Calendar Flake and a Notepad Flake. They also have an existing Mail Flake, as well as flakes for Writely and iRows. So it seems they're working their way towards a little widget office suite! 

That may sound odd at first, but when you think about it - componentized web apps are potentially very useful on a company Intranet.

A couple of Pageflakes Office widgets

Netvibes has much the same as Pageflakes, with modules for email, calendar, Writely, iRows and more. The other start pages have similar functionality - indeed Webwag has a default tab called "Office".

So the question is: what can you use a Web Office Start Page for? I must admit I don't use email within my start page - I use Gmail and it occupies the first tab in my browser 100% of the time. But with word processing and spreadsheets, there are certain files that I use frequently during the day (e.g. my timesheet) - and so having them available in my start page would be useful. Likewise with my calendar or a notepad.

Also it helps to think of a start page as like an Intranet dashboard, where you have the documents and files you use regularly either open - or a click away - in your dashboard.

I wrote about this back in September, when I noted the arrival of Google's Personalized Start Page for Enterprise - which I nicknamed its 'instant intranet'. It is one of the options available in Google's Apps For Your Domain service. Also included in the package is email, IM, calendar and website creator - with Docs & Spreadsheets rumored to be in the mix in the future. 

Here's how Google currently describes the start page feature on the 'Apps for your domain' homepage:

"The start page lets you easily create a unique, dynamic place for internal or external users to find relevant, essential information, preview their inboxes and calendars, and search the web. You customize the layout, header information and color scheme, as well as the page's default content, which can include Google Personalized Homepage modules, your organization's custom content and links, and RSS feeds. After users log in, they can further customize the start page so it's just right."

So widgets that have office functionality - and their inclusion on Intranet dashboards - is probably where Google, Microsoft and the smaller players like Pageflakes and Netvibes are heading. Because as Web services become smaller and more componentized, it's natural that office software will take advantage of those trends.

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Widgets and flakes are waste of time?

    If you think about this real hard you might come to the same conclusion as I am coming to.

    Widgets and flakes are a bit of a time waster, as there is no real proper use for them.

    Why would one want to have a note pad in a form of a widget really?

    In the long term you end up getting together a pile of unsorted notes somewhere from where you usually can't make much use of them.

    Widget to Writely? Why? Why not just use Writely. Half of the time I find the actual Writely screen too small for document editing, letalone widget window.

    Clock, calendar, power meter, etc. Don't see a point in those as they are just a fancy looking widgets that show me what I already know about my computer and don't offer much of the new functionality.

    I installed widgets from Google at one point and found them, overall, a waste of time.



    • widgets a waste?

      I agree that there are alot of Web2.0 sites out there and alot of widgets. Some useful and some not. I like widgets though. I use Google Homepage as my start page for my business. I have widgets for my box.net, gmail, to do list, bookmarks, podcast, feeds, etc.
      It keeps everything centralized and accessible. It is actually a time saver.
      I use widgets in my blog to let users know of upcoming events and to chat instantly with me.
      Could we use a few less widgets; most likely. But I don't see them as not having value, which means I don't see them "fizzling" anytime soon.
  • Web widgets

    The idea of customisable intranet 'portlets' has been around a chunk of time -- quite some years in fact. Also in the Microsoft camp, Sharepoint offers what are called 'webparts' so you can have a custom page with elements arranged by drag and drop.

    Definitely a useful and valuable thing; just not sure it's that new. I know Vista's gadgets are interesting in that you simply drag from the web page to the desktop to have a little 'self contained' widget that is, under the cover, just another web page. So the web channels are fragmenting; we have:

    - gadgets
    - rss feeds
    - SMS notifications
    - mobile versions of pages
    - embedded web apps inside desktop apps

    ... I'm sure it'll continue.
  • Timesheet Widget=timeXchange.net

    timeXchange.net is a free onmline timesheet exchange that fits in this category.