Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hey... I created a Widget!

I made a widget this week to countdown the number of days until the IL-TCE Conference!

Widgets are pretty cool. They are small web-based "windows" that work with Mac's OSX Tiger Dashboard, and can be used to display snippets of information, such as stock prices, airfares, weather, or provide quick access to utilities like the dictionary or calculator. And, when active, they float over what is on your screen. On the Mac, you can bring up widgets by clicking the Dashboard icon on the Dock, or by pressing the F12 key. On the new "Mighty Mouse", the tiny scroll button, when pressed, activates the widgets -- teachers in the lab often are surprised when they press this while scrolling and the widgets pop up!

What if you wanted to create a widget, how would you go about it?

The first step is to figure out what makes up a widget. The Apple website is a good place to start. The Apple Developer Page has a tutorial to make a basic "Hello World" widget.

Basically, widgets are a combination of html, images and some special Javascript files, all "packaged" together. Control + click on the widget's icon (in your "House" > "Library" > "Widgets" folder) and you can "Show Package Contents." Once the package is open, you can edit and view the html file in a web editor/browser.

My IL-TCE Countdown widget (available on the ICE website) is a reworked version of the "Christmas is Coming" widget, originally created by Jonathan Gardner of Gardner Designs,. Jonathan graciously replied to my email, and granted permission to publish this!!

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