Posted by Tom Grant on August 4, 2008
I'm a big fan of widgets. Now that the concept of "cloud computing" has gained traction in the technology industry, lots of people are also wild for widgets. Of course, when you dynamically assemble content from multiple sources, bad things might happen to good people:
SiteMeter's widget for tracking visits to Web sites went haywire on Friday and rendered many pages unviewable via Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.
The technology industry will take steps to eliminate these problems. Standards will help a little, if only to get the people writing widgets to think about all the implications and edge cases of what they're building. Abstracting the run-time layer of widgets through mechanisms like Netvibes' universal widget API can help, too.
Given the enthusiasm for widgets, lots of people will be working on the technical issues. I worry a little more about the legal ones, when someone's corporate web site or widely-read blog goes down because of browser compatibility, sloppy coding, or security holes. For example, this grumpy Brit raises more important concerns than whether or not the W3C finishes the widget standard any time soon. Keep your fingers crossed that legal finger-pointing won't slow down cloud computing.