This is a wiki dump of the Widgets/Applets/Sidebar/Notifications whiteboard sheets.

We referred to widgets and applets interchangeably. Widgets usually refer to the information presented as part of the desktop background or a sidebar, and applets usually refer to the information that is shown on the panel or pops up from it, but they are really the same concept. Widgets is the term used everywhere below for consistency.

The distinction between a sidebar and a panel is that a sidebar is shown on the side and provides enough width to contain the widgets, where is a panel is shown on the top or on the bottom of the desktop and is short.

It is possible to forgo having a horizontal panel and use a sidebar that can be collapsed instead, but that might depart too far from a conventional desktop look. It is also possible to display all the information usually available on the panel as multiple widgets, but that would also be a radical change to a conventional desktop set-up.

Widget Characteristics

  • Always There - Quick Access
  • Compact
  • Eye Candy
  • Informative <=> Information

  • Easy to Use
  • Easy to Develop
  • Fun
  • Easy to Install
  • Minimize need to do polling - auto display right information
  • Few Preferences
  • One of Many - e.g. all widgets can be brought to view by a single click

Decision Points about Widget Implementation

  • Where are the widgets displayed?
    • Dock vs. Panel vs. Task List
  • What are the different states/display modes?
  • What do the expanded views/necessary dialogs look like?
  • How is theming done? Is the look of the widget dependent on the overall theme?
  • How browsing and installation are enabled?
  • How drag and drop and moving are implemented for both widgets and widget content?
  • Interactions with Apps
  • Overall Style
  • Common UI elements/inter-widget desktop applications
  • Data sources for widgets
  • How do you write "my first widget"?

Details about the above questions that we had a chance to discuss follow.

Where are the widgets displayed?

The following options are not mutually exclusive.

  • Panel/Dock
  • On Desktop
  • Sidebar stuck to the side (can't be covered by applications)
  • Flyout
  • Dialog/Popout/Slideout

Browsing and Installation

  • Central Website
    • Security
    • Ratings/Comments
    • Sandboxing
    • Google Gadgets (as an example, plus can enable including as desktop widgets)
    • Source Code
    • Community
  • User Install
  • Bundle Format (bundled with an application or with a set of other widgets)
  • No Binary
  • System Install (admins pre-configuring a set of widgets to install)
  • Update System - Automatic? Manual?
    • Ideal to have the same update system as for applications, but might be difficult to implement
  • Packaging Firefox plugins? (discussed firefox as having its own add-ons update system)
  • Local Browser for Installed Widgets

How is theming done?

  • For Widgets
    • Artist Friendly (just add SVGs)
    • Variants
  • System
    • Colors
    • Buttons
    • Widget Theme Bundles
    • Backgrounds

Overall Style

The first two options are not mutually exclusive.

  • Animated Icons
  • Boxed (like Google Gadgets)
  • Standard way to display a menu, move or remove a widget


Events/Summit/2008/GUIHackfest/DesktopWidgets (last edited 2013-11-25 17:49:14 by WilliamJonMcCann)