A fairly common type of Dashboard widget is one that loads one or more RSS feeds, and this
was, in fact, the goal of my project. I wanted to "asynchronously" load the RSS feed from
Classic 45 s
into my widget, without the widget itself having to be "reloaded." Whenever my
RSS feed is updated, I wanted the widget to just fetch and display it without the user having to
do anything. AJAX programming makes this possible. (You can read more about
with this essay
So off I went... It took about 2 weeks, working around everything else in my life... to get the
widget ready for posting on Apple s website. But what a blast I had! Along the way, I checked
out some of the emerging widget development tools and actually ended up forking over a few
bucks to the guy who developed
. It s still a young tool that I m sure will get better,
but I paid the shareware fee primarily because I loved the "Panel Maker" that s built in. This
utility makes creating slick widget background images child s play. Yes, I could ve done it from
scratch in PageMaker, but this was so much easier! He s since added an "Icon Maker" to the tool.
Widgetarium has an embedded Safari WebKit engine that allows you to see and manipulate your
widget in a transparent window similar to how it will look in Dashboard itself.
There are many other useful developer add ons to Safari and widget development tools that are
worth checking out, and I m sure a year from now there will be even more and better ones.
Widgets are simply going to explode in numbers, so it s great that Apple moved fast to improve
Dashboard s ability to manage them. If you haven t upgraded, Tiger 10.4.2 includes a Widget
Manager in Dashboard that s a big improvement over the first version that shipped with Tiger.
When I finished my widget on July 6, there were about 700 widgets listed on Apple s "
" site. When I checked just now, the total had climbed to 926! If that rate of growth
continues, there will be almost 5,000 widgets a year from now. Nearly all of them are released as
freeware, including many that are handy replacements for Mac software you would otherwise
have to pay for.
MPN, LLC 2005 macCompanion
August 2005, Volume 3 Issue 8