Cross Platform Mobile and Web Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :


Both desktop and Web widgets have the same basic components. Fundamentally, they use Web compatible formats, even if intended to run in a desktop environment. This means that the core of the widget is HTML and CSS code which contains the actual content of the widget, namely text, linked images/video or content pulled from a server of Web service. Alternatively, the widget content can be created using Flash, although this may limit its use on some mobile devices. The content is contained within an XML file that provides essential metadata about the widget, such as its name, version, language, etc. The third component of most widgets is JavaScript, which is used to provide the programming logic behind any interactivity in the widget. To make widgets run in different environments typically necessitates only changing elements of the metadata contained in the XML file. There are sites such as or that provide tools for creating widgets through a simple drag and drop interface (Godwin-Jones, 2009).

A powerful feature of widgets is the ability to pull information from a server in order to continuously update data displayed to the user, or to have data pre-loaded to browser memory, so as to be available for quick display as needed. This kind of background server-client interaction is often described as AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). There are many AJAX code libraries available, which make the tasks of creating widgets on Web pages using AJAX much easier. There is an effort underway, called OpenAjax Alliance, which aims to make it easier to mix and match components from different AJAX libraries. Another effort to achieve increased interoperability is OpenSocial, from Google. OpenSocial defines a set of APIs for social networking services to be accessed and run within different Web environments, including widgets.

One of the more popular tools for building social networks, Ning, has adopted the OpenSocial standard, as has iGoogle (Godwin-Jones, 2009). In addition, organization-wide information access, and the ongoing requirement to provide value for money, will increase the demand for tools to enhance collaboration and the sharing of information and knowledge. The effort to develop tools that support collaborative working across the workplace will become even more critical as professionals seek to foster, support and record collaborative innovation. The demand for Web 2.0 and beyond in the workplace-using tools such as SharePoint, blogs and aggregate tools such as Pageflakes to encourage collaboration-seems destined to continue (Hill, 2008).

Scope of Study

Rationale of Study

Overview of Study

This study used a five-chapter format to achieve the above-stated research objectives. To this end, chapter one was used to introduce the topics under consideration, provide a statement of the problem, the purpose and importance of the study, as well as its scope and rationale. Chapter two provides a critical review of the relevant and peer-reviewed literature, and chapter three presents the study's methodology, a description of the study approach, the data-gathering method and the database of study consulted. Chapter four is comprised of an analysis of the data developed during the research process and chapter five presents the study's conclusions, a summary of the research and salient recommendations.

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature


The idea of putting web-application as widgets right on the desktop was invented way back by Microsoft in 1994 (in Windows Nashville which was to be released in 1996). You could use an HTML and JavaScript page as you desktop background which would be running in the Internet Explorer. Microsoft even had a set of Active Desktop widgets. Java applets are dynamically downloaded Java code used to provide processing capability at the user's machine. Java applets make a thin client thick (see discussed of thin/thick clients below) (Proctor & Vu, 2005).


One more technology that played a role in inventing desktop widgets is HTA (HTML application) which runs as a standalone application for that you were required to put you VBScript or JavaScript code and style in a single HTML file and rename it to .hta extension. The HTA is a thin client as opposed to a thick client application; the terms refer to a continuum of processing capability at the user's machine in a client-server environment. With a thin client application, there are few data and little processing capability at the user's machine; with a thick client application, data and computing capability are at, or transferred to, the user's machine. A pure HTML application would be an example of a thin client (Proctor & Vu, 2005, p. 496).


Netvibes has developed its universal widget API (UWA)[6] which is a free and elegant widget framework that uses XHTML for its software platform consisted of operating systems that run on personal computers or on servers that are nodes in an organization's network of computers. Software applications such as Microsoft Word that run on operating systems are also installed on these desktop or server computers.42 the software platforms that are central to Web-based businesses reside on servers that are attached to the Internet. Moreover, applications that work with these platforms may reside on other servers that are attached to the Internet. This has resulted in what is sometimes called "cloud computing," in which the software platform and possibly the application primarily reside on several interchangeable computers that the individual user accesses through the Internet. Google's search-based advertising platform is an example. The search engine that individuals use to conduct search queries, much of the software that advertisers rely on for advertising campaigns, and much of the software that publishers rely on for inserting advertisements into their Web pages reside on vast interconnected but indistinguishable "server farms" that Google operates around the world (Evans, 2008, p. 1987).

According to Godwin-Jones (2009), "Like iGoogle, Netvibes uses 'themes' to allow for different looks and also allows creation of widgets. Netvibes allows for users to easily designate pages as private or public" (p. 4).

An example of how to put together a Netvibes site for educational/institutional use is the home page for the Kankakee (Illinois) Public Library. The Bamboo Project blog describes a number of interactive widgets used in a Netvibes PLE. The service that seems to currently be among the most popular with teachers is Pageflakes. In fact, Pageflakes has a specific starting page designed for teachers, which features widgets such as a teaching schedule, Google Research search field, grade tracker, and free access to a file server service. It has an especially large number of widgets available, called "flakes," and features a full, multipage desktop interface. It has some innovative features which have contributed to its popularity, including drag and drop of widgets from one page to another (not only within the same page), and a very nice user interface. Like other integration tools, Pageflakes has recently increased the options for integrating social networking services into its sites (Godwin-Jones, 2009).


The Fox Interactive media has developed a widgets platform called SpringWidgets[9] which works on most of the websites as well as the desktop in contrast to the widget platforms which work today on either websites such as Google Gadgets4, WidgetBox[10] or desktop such as Yahoo Widgets[3].

A listing of featured Google Gadgets is provided in Table ____ below.


Google Featured Gadgets

Gadget Name


Sample User Reviews

Google Calendar gadget

Provides a Google Calendar on the desktop.

1. Definitely could have been more features in this. Quick add and popup alerts especially would be extremely handy for managing the calendar from the desktop completely without having to keep the browser version open.

2. The only complaint is about resize when you change resolutions or screen sizes (netbook - external screen). The gadget size sometimes gets stuck and you have to close and open the sidebar to fix it. Great Gadget.

3. Looks good, except everything on my side bar has a black background except for this calendar.

4. Add Tasks! Would be nice to have the option to see only Weekdays, it would make the display cleaner.

Google Docs

Find, open, and upload Google Docs documents

1. The ability to choose which browser to automatically open docs with would be helpful.

2. Terrible gadget. Doesn't let you upload any files (e.g., image files) like you can with browser Google Docs. Doesn't show shared folders or view in tree structures.

3. Missing too many basics, must have features.

4. Does not recognize PDF files.


Watch today's most popular YouTube videos

1. Need to be able to select playlists/subscriptions/favorites.

2. Could definitely be better if it would set the REFFERER header tag as / I personally think that piracy is easier from the YouTube site than an official widget. As such I think that you should be able to watch music videos from your desktop.

3. We need to be able to sign into our…

Sources Used in Documents:


American Psychological Association. (2002). Publication manual of the American Psychological

Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

GeoDa: An Introduction to Spatial Data Analysis. Contributors: Luc Anselin - author, Ibnu Syabri - author, Youngihn Kho - author. Journal Title: Geographical Analysis. Volume: 38. Issue: 1. Publication Year: 2006. Page Number: 5+.

Serence's World of Widgets. Contributors: Barbara Brynko - author. Magazine Title: Information Today. Volume: 24. Issue: 11. Publication Date: December 2007. Page Number: 26+.

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