Adam Sah on the Google Gadgets team talks about a newer product from Google called "Gadgets For Your Web Page" on the Google Code Blog. He outlines a few limitations that currently exist in version 1 of the service.
- Make sure your gadget supports 200-pixel content widths for placement on third-party web pages. While Google Personalized Homepage gadgets have an average width of 250 pixels, assume third-party web pages will have even smaller widths. Otherwise, you may start receiving complaint emails about annoying horizontal scroll bars.
- You cannot store data or state for gadgets embedded on third-party web pages. If your gadget contains code to do so, it will silently fail.
- Inlined gadgets cannot be added to third-party web pages, and will not appear in our directory of gadgets for your webpage.
- Since inlined gadgets are not supported, embedded gadgets cannot modify third-party webpages for obvious reasons.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam about Google Personalized Homepage recently -- you will find the questions and answers below:
How long as the Google Personalized Homepage been around, and whose idea was it?
There have been many user-facing changes, including ui improvements, new types of gadgets, international launches and a vast array of behind-the-scenes changes for marketing, performance, reliability and decision support. It's hard to understate the engineering effort and responsibility involved in "being" Google's homepage, plus partners and other uses.
Major Features of Personalized Homepage and Gadgets:
- Labs launch (May, 2005)
- New improved UI and support for all RSS feeds (July 2005)
- Off Labs and onto google.com (September 2005)
- Launch in 16 new domains and 12 new languages (November 2005)
- Gadget API (December 2005)
- Dell Homepage (December 2005)
- Content Directory for feeds and gadgets (January 2006)
- New improved User Set up (March 2006)
- New improved directory (April 2006)
- World Cup Gadget all supported languages and locales (June 2006)
- International Directory and Gadgets (June 2006)
- Multiple Pages (Tabs) / Zippies (Minimize) (September 2006)
- Gadgets for your page (October 2006)
Along the way, many of these features have enjoyed major improvements. For example, observant gadget authors have noticed many changes to improve the fairness in the content directory ranking algorithm.
Do you see significant competition in this space from companies like Netvibes, Pageflakes and Live.com? How would you rank the Google Personalized Homepage in popularity and features today?
You just added two new features to the service recently -- the ability to minimize gadgets and the addition of tabs. Has the feedback been fairly positive on these new features? A couple of my readers wish there was an option to disable the tabs, is that a common request?
Only a few gadgets currently work on the personalized homepage for mobile -- can we expect the Google Personalized Homepage to become a larger presence on mobile devices?
What percentage of Google users actively use the Google Personalized Homepage? Have the numbers been increasing since its launch?
I personally find it much easier to use the Personalized Homepage API than the one for native Google Desktop Search (GDS) sidebar gadgets. Some of the features available in the GDS API (such as Google Talk intgration) could make for some interesting gadgets -- in a future version of the Homepage API, could we see something like this?
For example, we noticed an opportunity to bring the Google Gadgets API (formerly Homepage API) gadgets to Google Desktop Sidebar, and jumped on it. Gadgets have been quite successful on Desktop and I'm thrilled to have been able to help two products at once.
Google Apps For you Domain has been testing a customized personalized homepage for comanies using the service. Can you outline some of the differences between the normal Google Personalized Homepage with the one available to the beta testers?
And last but not least, what is your favourite Gadget? And don't worry, You do not have to say the "local chat gadget"
A better question to ask is... what's your favorite this week? There are 1000s of gadgets and I can't keep track anymore. I loved Local Chat when it came out, dugg the Digg gadget, use my Google Logo gadget (which my product manager designed), have fun with Mark Lucovsky's ajaxsearch and mapsearch gadgets, anxiously await the latest gadgets by prolific gadgeteers Bonstio, Sophia, Labpixies. I especially love to see what younger developers like Caleb and Benno invent and we're running an awards promotion to recognize college students who create great gadgets. I hope some of those award winners end up being coworkers in years to come!
But authors who looking for mainstream success shouldn't design to my taste-- I'm an engineer and constantly surprised by what's popular with our users, which you can see in the content directory rankings. Note: international authors should consult their own directories by clicking the Add Content link, rather than the US/English edition found on google.com . Overseas, there's a large ratio of users to available gadgets, which translates to a lot of opportunity for gadgets addressing the needs in other countries, especially when they use the popular language(s) for those markets.