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A case for Enterprise Widgets

It was the Friday before TechEd when Peter Ebert and I came up with the idea of having a TechEd schedule widget. Peter had made the original TechEd schedule software that you see displayed all over the conference on the vertical monitors and we thought it would be great if participants could get this information from wherever they were- before leaving their hotel room, in a not-so-great session, or hanging out in the SDN Clubhouse.

Fast forward to Monday morning and thanks to a few hours of time from Fred Samson, Stephan and Wiebke (our trusty interns), and the TechEd web team, we had a working TechEd desktop schedule application that refreshed every 60 seconds and highlighted schedule changes, paused if you wanted, and collapsed when you didn’t want to look at it and displayed a thanks message when the event was over. Oh ya, and did I mention it runs on Macintosh as well?

And that’s my point. This is the same technology that you’ve been using all along (mostly XML, JavaScript and HTML), running on Yahoo!’s widget engine (free download), but somehow its more relevant because its running on your desktop. What can this simple but powerful idea do for enterprise usage? I don’t know the full extent of the answer yet, but its what I intend to find out in the coming months. Please let me know what you think.


Some usefull links:
Wikipedia’s entry for widgets:
The Yahoo! Widgets homepage:
The Apple homepage for widgets:

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  • Sounds great. What a great way to mash the enterprise into a whole new form that no-one has even thought of yet. Looking forward to more from your lab.
    Oh it looks great too!
    • Thanks for the encouragement Nigel.  I’m looking for the community to provide insight into what’s needed too.  Look forward to code samples, tools and libraries.
    • This is a great idea.  We have been exploring using widgets based on the Google Desktop to allow users to see some small portal content with out need to log in.  They are based along the same lines as this content – news, weather, stock price. 

      The advantage of these tools is that the come with a library of other widgets that the user community may find helpful.


      • I’m looking for anyone wanting to share their experiences (don’t think Eric would turn these away either) – drop me a mail (check my BC link) and we can find the best way to share what you are doing 🙂


      • Hi James-
        I was thinking of the same thing.  One idea we had was an “iView” widget.  This widget would display content from any pre-existing iView(like worklist summary or vacation report etc…).  Have you looked into this already?
  • BUT, take a look at a thread I had recently with Yahoo engineers when inquiring about basic enterprise functionality. (I’ll obfuscate my work email address – but original date/time stamp and header info. will be left alone) READ FROM BOTTOM -> TO<br/><br/>–

    Original Message –

    <br/>Subject: Re: Feedback – Yahoo! Widget Engine – N/A    (KMM10151815V41936L0KM)<br/>Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2006 09:49:08 -0700<br/>From: Yahoo!Widgets <><br/>Reply-To: Yahoo!Widgets <><br/>To: MYYAHOOID<br/><br/>Hello MYNAME,<br/><br/>Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Widgets.<br/><br/>Yes, I was alluding to AD GPOs, its where my knowledge of the policy <br/>writing lies, as my education is with MCSE 2003. I suspected that there <br/>is no way to limit widget use, but had never tried it.<br/><br/>I will pass along the suggestion for command line and unattended <br/>installations to the Dev team for consideration. At this point in time <br/>there is no command line silent install process. I’ll email directly as <br/>son as I hear back from the team.<br/><br/>Please let me know if you have any other questions.<br/><br/>Regards,<br/><br/>Joan<br/><br/>Yahoo! Widgets Technical.<br/><br/>For assistance with all Yahoo! services please visit:<br/>   <br/><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>Original Message Follows:<br/>

    <br/><br/>May you guys do something as simple as adding a question about<br/>unattended/silent installation to your Widget FAQ ( example, what<br/>switches does the widget engine support for installation from the<br/>command line? ) ?  It should probably address a push type installation<br/>without user interaction.  Then possibly address the topic of<br/>restricting widgets.  Although I’m quite familiar with Microsoft’s<br/>Active Directory GPOs ( which I think you were alluding to below ) ,<br/>many companies don’t use that as their network management solution.<br/>Additionally, in my extensive use of GPOs, there is no way I no of to<br/>disable a particular set of files such as .widgets .<br/><br/>Thank you very much!<br/><br/>-mark<br/>MYYAHOOID<br/><br/>Yahoo!Widgets wrote:<br/>> Hello MYNAME,<br/>> <br/>> Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Widgets.<br/>> <br/>> While deployment of the Engine itself would be simple, and could <br/>install<br/>> with a standard application install policy, limiting what widgets a <br/>user<br/>> could run would be more of a task (this could possibly be determined <br/>by <br/>> user group, etc).<br/>> <br/>> A widget operated just like a .doc or.xls file, and your users would <br/>be <br/>> able to run whatever they liked unless you could institute a pretty <br/>> strict GPO against it. Due to intricacies of networks we do not <br/>support <br/>> the writing of GPO.<br/>> <br/>> Please let me know if you have any other questions.<br/>> <br/>> Regards,<br/>> <br/>> Joan<br/>> <br/>> Yahoo! Widgets Technical Lead.<br/>> <br/>> For assistance with all Yahoo! services please visit:<br/>>    <br/>><br/>> <br/>> <br/>> Original Message Follows:<br/>> –

    <br/>> <br/>> Mail-Id: 1155043857-7850<br/>> Name: MYNAME<br/>> <br/>> Yahoo! ID: MYYAHOOID<br/>> <br/>> Subject: Yahoo! Widget Engine<br/>> <br/>> Version: Widgets 3.1<br/>> <br/>> Widget Name:  N/A<br/>> <br/>> Type your feedback here:<br/>>  I would like to silently deploy Yahoo<br/>> widgets to all the computers in my<br/>> enterprise and also specify which<br/>> widgets can be active and installed. <br/>> Please explain how to manage Yahoo<br/>> Widgets across my department.<br/>> <br/>> While Viewing:<br/>> <br/>> Form Name:<br/>> Yahoo ID: unknown : Yahoo id from form
    <br/>> Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: <br/>> Gecko/20060728 Firefox/<br/>> REMOTE_ADDR:<br/>> REMOTE_HOST: unknown<br/>> Date Originated: Tuesday August  8, 2006 – 06:30:57<br/>> –