Yahoo! Widget Engine 4.0.0
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- First and foremost is the shiny new Widget Dock. Finally theres a way to manage your Widgets in a neatly organized fashion. This was always an area we knew we needed to work on, and in this release we were able to spend the time and get a really polished UI in place for it (and make it dock to any corner or edge of multiple monitors). Does it do everything we wanted it to? No, but its pretty darned close. Itll be changed and enhanced as we move forward and get feedback from you, the home viewer. Use that Provide Feedback& link - we really do listen.
- Not only can you manage your Widgets with the Dock, but Widgets can now show you what we call vitality, i.e. live info. Basically, its a mini Widget. So the Weather Widget can show the temperature, etc. in a smaller, more organized form factor. As more Widgets get updated to work on Version 4, youll see more and more information in the Dock.
Updates and Widget Discovery
- We now support automatic Widget updates. When an update is available for one of your running Widgets, youll get an indicator in the Dock. Click it and youll be running the update in seconds. While this magic only exists for our Yahoo!-built Widgets right now, we plan to make similar functionality available to third-party Widget authors as well in the near future.
- If you ever get bored with the Widgets you have on your machine, theres now a much easier way to get new ones - the new Gallery Widget. With it, you can browse the Widget Gallerys 4300+ Widgets and get new ones with one click, all without ever opening a web browser. The Gallery Widget will ship with every copy of Yahoo! Widgets 4.
Improved User Experience
- Weve simplified a lot of our interface features based on user feedback and testing. For example, we used to have a series of window levels a Widget could use, but each Window level tied on extra features. In this version, weve broken them out into separate preferences. So now the level of the window is separate from whether the Widget is clickable, for example. It should make a lot more sense now.
- To further simplify things, theres also a new hidden state for Widgets. The hidden state allows the user to run a Widget without displaying its full interface on the screen. Widgets running in hidden mode continue to display live updates (or vitality) in their tile in the Dock. To display the full Widget again, just select the show control on the miniaturized Dock tile or click the tile. This feature replaces the old Heads-Up Display Only window level for Widgets. Just hide a Widget and if you want to see it, bring up the Heads-Up Display mode or click its tile in the dock. Its much more intuitive and straightforward now.
- Even with all those features packed in there, weve managed to reduce our memory consumption by about 40%. This number is based on what Task Manager shows as VM Size or the Mac (under top) shows as RPRIV. This is real, allocated memory by a process. Its the one true number an application can really make a dent in. Ill post a tome on how measuring memory usage is not as simple as adding up Mem Usage in Task Manager some other time.
A Powerful Flickr Widget
- Another new Widget is our Flickr Widget. Not only will it stream your favorite Flickr photos right to your desktop, the Flickr Widget also has powerful drag-and-drop upload which allows you to do highly customized batch uploads without having to open a browser. You will love browsing pictures in this Widget. I can personally attest that the manner in which it allows you to browse the Interestingness category is just plain awesome. This is by far the most full-featured Widget weve ever created. The Flickr Widget is just one example of what this latest Konfabulator engine can do, as well as the direction we are heading.
- For the Widget developers out there, weve added cool features like SQLite support, canvas support (the old puzzle blog post was done via the canvas feature), submenus, rotation of pretty much anything, and DOM-like traversal. And thats just the tip of the iceberg. If you want the full list of new features, check out our release notes. A lot of what weve added is based on feedback from the current developer base. So by all means, keep posting in the forums.
- And how will you get this new information into your brains? Well, along with the usual reference guide in PDF, we now have online docs for the first time in our history. Its our first cut at it, and we will be adding certain features that you might have come to love about other online docs solutions, but at least you now have it on the web as well as in PDF. Choice is good.