Web Widgets

Happy New Year to all and here’s hoping that we work together to make 2009 successful.

Today I am going to continue the discussion on the new features in CS4. Today’s topic is Web Widgets.

We introduced Spry widgets in DW CS3 and they were well received. But we noticed many many other widgets out there, some more complicated than others, and wanted a way to let DW users easily get and insert these widgets into their pages.

Web Widgets is a couple of things. First: It is a set of widget extensions from 3rd party developers that can be installed into Dreamweaver, much like Spry widgets. Second: It is the ability to create these widget extensions.

When CS4 was released, we introduced a set of 15-20 Web Widgets from Yahoo, jQuery and Phatfusion. This allows you to install these extension into DW and insert, say, a YUI Calendar directly into a page.

These Web Widgets can be downloaded for free from the Dreamweaver Exchange. There is a new menu option in DW CS4 that takes you right to the Web Widgets Exchange. Check the gear icon to the right of the Help menu. (Note that these widgets are for CS4 and higher.)

The second big part of the Web Widgets world is the Widget Packager. The Packager is an extension that installs into DW. This then consumes a Widget Descriptor File (WDF), which is an XML file that describes all the properties of the widget. The WDF file follows the spec of the OpenAjax Alliance.

When a WDF is run through the packager, DW will create all the files needed to create a new widget object, and then it will wrap it up into an extension (and install it into DW if you wish). This extension can be uploaded to the Exchange and distributed to the world. We tried to make it easy for people to create widget objects for Dreamweaver and share them with the community. You don’t have to be a widget developer to make a Web Widget. If you can write XML, you can easily package up an existing widget (following all licence agreements of course).

So we hope that users will see the benefit of a wide range of widgets for DW and take the initiative to create and upload widgets.

The Widget Packager is available for free on Labs here.

Thanks for reading,
Don

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