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Clearspring Empowers Widgets

November 30th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Clearspring released their early-access In-Widget Services API a few weeks ago. The initial release only supports Flash ActionScript 2, but ActionScript 3 and JavaScript are planned for later versions. These APIs were previously only available to Clearspring’s internal studio team.

In-Widget Services

Clearspring provides a number of APIs that you can use from within your widget. These APIs allow you to do things like invoke our viral sharing services programmatically, get information on the viewer of your widget, access properties of the widget and where it is located, and more.

The APIs are divided into three logical categories, each with a number of properties and functions:

  • Context
  • Menu
  • Track

The In-Widget Services API is now available for your widget if it is registered with the Clearspring platform.

What really makes this interesting is now you will have to ability to get information about your widget that you couldn’t get before. This information can then be passed back to your own server side services powering your widget. The widget can now be aware of its location and become an intelligent app. You’re no longer limited to “dumb” badges and widgets.

context.DOMAIN

The domain (if known) in which the running widget is embedded. If domain is unknown, DOMAIN will be undefined.

context.user.geo.getCountry

Returns the user’s ISO-3166 country code (e.g., “US”).

For example, with context.DOMAIN you will be able to determine if your widget is placed at myspace.com or some other domain. Pass this information back to your server and display appropriate features to the end-users. If the destination site has APIs, you could even display a friends list or other details the platform provides. There is no technical reason why widgets can’t access the social graph and become a social apps, as long as the platforms open up their systems and policies.

Another example is access to the country location of the user. This can obviously be used to customize your widget for specific users based on their location, culture, language, localized services, etc.

These are just couple of methods available. See the documentation for the complete list of available services and methods.

Widgets can and will become more intelligent as standards are agreed upon and platforms open up. They will become applications much like Facebook Apps. While they may not be as fully integrated as a platform specific application (though they can come close), they will be more portable and flexible than a platform app.

A few of the items were already available to developers who knew what they were doing, but Clearspring extends the available information and makes it much easier for developers. Clearspring is leading the way in deploying a powerful widget platform to go beyond what you typically see right now. We just need developers to start innovating and taking advantage of this. Much of the focus and news lately has been on Facebook Apps and OpenSocial, but widgets are still a very viable and powerful tool.

Rather than trying to define a widget or an app, we should be embracing all methods of development and approaching it with the idea that the best solution is the one that is right for your business.

And, we should stop thinking of widgets as just badges. They can and will be “Intelligent Widget Apps”.

  1. December 3rd, 2007 at 06:58 | #1

    Thanks for the writeup! If anyone’s got any questions at all, just send em our way in the forums. All the best.

  2. December 3rd, 2007 at 09:57 | #2

    It’s good to see Clearspring still leading the way. Hard to get much going with “widgets” these days due to all the press about Facebook and OpenSocial.

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