New, Improved Web

Widgets Break Out of the Browser

The technologies that power the New Web are being applied outside your browser, too. Widgets are lightweight applications that sometimes run inside a browser and other times operate as separate programs. They can monitor the weather, measure battery life, reformat Web pages and search results, or do just about anything else that someone figures out how to accomplish in a scripting language. Here are three of our favorite widgets:

Yahoo Widgets: Yahoo Widgets, formerly Konfabulator, is a free program for Windows XP and Mac OS X that runs JavaScript apps outside your browser. Its widgets float around your desktop (looking a lot like the widgets in OS X) and include a clock, weather display, to-do list, slide show of your Flickr photos, and battery and Wi-Fi signal strength monitors. The Web site offers over a thousand more, plus instructions on how to write your own.

Greasemonkey: Greasemonkey is a free extension for Firefox that runs JavaScript code (which it calls "user scripts") to change the way Web pages appear or behave. After you install the program, browse to Userscripts.org to view a collection of tags (called a "cloud") of user-script topics. One of my favorites is a Greasemonkey widget that adds Google Blogsearch to the Google search page.

Klipfolio: Looking much like an instant messaging client, Klipfolio is a free widget that aggregates RSS feeds and other complex information (such as the local weather). Unlike standard RSS readers, however, Klipfolio lets you search feeds and sends you alerts when your search terms appear.

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