Yahoo! Widgets

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Yahoo! Widgets
File:Konfabulator screenshot.jpg
Yahoo! Widgets running under Mac OS X.
Developer(s) Yahoo! Widgets Team
Stable release 4.5.2.0 / June 25, 2009; 146595263 ago
Operating system Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows
Type Widget engine
License Modified BSD Licence (See the EULA in the app)
Website widgets.yahoo.com

Yahoo! Widgets is a free application platform for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. The software was previously called Konfabulator, but after being acquired by computer services company Yahoo! it was rebranded. [1] The name Konfabulator was subsequently reinstated as the name of the underlying rendering engine. The engine uses a JavaScript runtime environment combined with an XML interpreter to run small applications referred to as widgets, and hence is part of a class of software applications called widget engines.

Contents

Features

Yahoo! Widget Engine includes some default widgets to get users started, including a weather widget, a digital clock, and a calendar among other things. Some of the most downloaded ones include a world timezone clock,[2] dedicated countdown timers,[3] simple RSS feed readers,[4] and webcam viewers. [5]

Each widget runs in its own system process, separate from other widgets and the main Konfabulator system process itself, thus improving the stability of the software application as a whole. Should a problem occur with a Konfabulator widget requiring it to be shut down, that particular widget can be shut down without affecting other widgets or the main Konfabulator application.[6] A disadvantage of doing this, however, is the extra computer memory needed for each process to run.

Heads-Up Display/Konsposé

Yahoo! Widgets provides a feature that can quickly bring all open widgets to the top of the desktop. It can be activated by pressing a hotkey (set by the user). This causes all widgets to be brought to the foreground, and all other applications to be dimmed. Widgets can also be set to be Konsposé-only, meaning that they will only appear when Konsposé is activated. Initially called Konsposé (alluding to Mac OS X's Exposé), it was renamed to "Heads-Up Display" with the release of Yahoo! Widget Engine. [7]

(The) Dock

With the introduction of Yahoo! Widget Engine 4.0, the engine has included a feature called the dock. The dock shows all widgets with representative icons.[8] Widgets that do not specify images are either provided with their screen-shot from the official widget gallery or the default widget icon, both shown on the right. When rolled over with the mouse, the dock helps users manage their widgets with buttons to close a widget, show a widget's preferences, and reveal a widget from the head-up display. For users who prefer not to have a dock visible all the time, the dock has options to auto-hide when not active, or even close entirely.

Developer/API features

The Yahoo! Widget Engine (Konfabulator) has a very flexible application programming interface (API) based on JavaScript with many features useful to developers. A few basic features include items such as text-areas, images, and timers. Other features include the ability to download webpages from the Internet, as well as file input/output, and animator objects to aid in visual effects. A built in interface allows widget developers to run OS specific code such as shell scripts and COM applications on Windows, and AppleScript on Mac.

As of Yahoo! Widget Engine 4.0, SQLite has been included in the engine, allowing developers to create and modify databases. Also included with 4.0 is the Canvas class, which allows vector drawing. Canvas "images" can be saved to either a JPG or PNG image file. With the introduction of the dock, widgets can set their own dock icons. Dock icons support a small subset of the engine's features, so they have the ability to display multiple images and text. This is useful to widgets designed to be such things as a clock, or a weather forecaster. Also added to text objects is support for simple CSS styles for formatting.[9] Another new feature included in version 4.0 is the ability to automatically check gallery downloaded widgets for updates. Previously only available to official Yahoo! Widgets, this feature was enabled for all third-party widget authors on August 17, 2007. [10]

Yahoo! Widgets 4.5, released on November 29, 2007, introduced support for both WebKit and Adobe Flash, allowing development of widgets using HTML and JavaScript as well as the capabilities of Flash. The WebKit support does not include plugins, so Flash is supported through the use of a separate native object. [11][12]

History

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