Proof of concept: Google Gadgets on Plasma

KDE 4’s Plasma cannot only handle it’s own native widgets, but also foreign ones. The Plasma developers have shown that it is technically possible to load Google Gadgets natively within Plasma.

Plasma is KDE 4’s way to handle widgets – not only embedded on the desktop/wallpaper (like Superkaramba did within KDE 3), but also in panels and even in other plasma enabled applications like the coming Amarok. So Plasma widgets can be extremely useful and handy. And since the Plasma team didn’t want to exclude developers, the widgets can be written in C++, javascript and ruby (yet).

Plasma can not only use native widgets, but also Superkaramba plugins and Mac OS X dashboard widgets. Additionally, with the integration of WebKit into Plasma, HTML/CSS/JavaScript constructs can also be loaded as kind of a plugin.

Now this list was extended by a new set of widgets: the Google Gadgets. The following screenshot shows that Google Gadgets can be run on Plasma:

As the title says, this is a proof of concept right now: it shows that it can be done. Nothing less, but also nothing more. The next task is now to integrate it with the GUI and for example to fetch new Gadgets right from the Google page. Currently it looks like this is a candidate (nothing written in stone yet of course) for KDE 4.2. Maybe the technical capability will be available with KDE 4.1 already so that experienced – and brave – users can give it a first try.

In any way this proof of concept shows again that Plasma can host all kinds of things – so even if new things turn up in the future Plasma might be able to host them. Technically that shows that Plasma is ready for future developments for example in case a new competitor turns up in the widget area. From a user point of view this brings a large range of widgets to the users.

From an administrator/security point of view the fact that Plasma is the host makes it easier to keep an eye on the widgets: Plasma is part of KDE, and therefore it can be configured – and stripped down if necessary – with the help of Kiosk. So administrators can simply disable certain for example Google widgets for security reasons with a simple commando at runtime, just like they can do it every where else in KDE.

Thanks to the Plasma developers for providing me with the necessary infos and image. And thanks the guys at Google for doing much of this integration work! Some infos are also available at google groups.

18 thoughts on “Proof of concept: Google Gadgets on Plasma”

  1. “The next task is now to integrate it with the GUI and for example to fetch new Gadgets right from the Google page.”
    If you have contacts with google’s team, it could be better to ask them to adopt GHNS. πŸ˜‰

  2. Let’s face it. Plasma is the way to go. I run openSuse 11.0 on my 6.5 years old laptop and was suprised how well plasma (not to say the entire KDE4 desktop) is working. I like the interface a lot (e.g. the way to resize the panel). Everything seemed reasonable stable, shiny and usefull.
    I’m not sure about this Google/Mac OS/…/ widget thingy but sure for many it’s nice to have or even a need.

    Thanks @ the whole plasma team and all KDE4 devs.

  3. Last time I heard abourt this, it was google who was trying to make their gadgets work on plasma. So.. who is behind this great evolution ? (google or the plasma team?)

  4. > From an administrator/security point of view the fact
    > that Plasma is the host makes it easier to keep an
    > eye on the widgets: Plasma is part of KDE, and
    > therefore it can be configured – and stripped down
    > if necessary – with the help of Kiosk.

    That does not exist in KDE 4 yet in a reasonably working state. Please be careful not to promise things that don’t exist yet.

  5. What are Plasma Widgets?

    I have always tought that they are called as plasmoids…

    Microsoft calls Vista’s own as Gadgets…
    Apple calls Mac OSX’s own as Widgets…
    KDE calls Plasmoids own as Plasmoids…
    Opera calls own as Opera Widgets…
    Mozilla calls own as Addons…

  6. @Fri13

    In Plasma, Plasmoids are native to plasma (i.e. they use Qt/KDE libraries, etc.). Which means in this case that they can be full blown Qt/KDE applications.

    Plasma widgets are non-native things such as Mac OSX dashboard widgets, google gadgets etc. Which are generally written in Javascript/HTML/CSS and don’t have as much advanced functionality (such as using solid for hardware detection).

  7. @RobertKnight: you are, of course, referring to kiosktool which is a GUI to configure kiosk. The kiosk framework still works in KDE4 as it always did, there’s just no shiny kde4 GUI to configure it; the KDE3 app only covered the most common features anyways (and was nearly useless for kicker).

    so this stuff works .. there’s just no shiny configuration application for it. hopefully there will be one day. =)

    @Fri13: in plasma terminology, a “widget” is an object you can add to the canvas (your desktop, a panel, a media center, etc). there are widgets that are native to Plasma, and we generally refer to those as Plasmoids. but we also support Superkarama, HTML/CSS, MacOS Dashboard and now Google Gadget widgets. these are all, along with Plasmoids, “widgets” and as such treated the same on the canvas.

    the major difference between Plasmoids and the other “non-native” widgets is the API: Plasmoids offer a powerful and fairly unique API to creating widgets that allows a lot more power and expression than the other widget systems. this isn’t a slag on the other widget systems: their design goals are typically much more limited than Plasma’s are both by necessity and by desire.

  8. @Kyle

    So we have Plasmoids (native) and widgets (or gadgets if there are such working versions!) πŸ™‚

  9. oh, and yes, it was the Google Gadget team who did this work. i think if offered two small fixes (use contentRect() instead of boundingRect() and how to turn off the applet background), they did the rest of the work on their own, most of it before even contacting the plasma team. =)

    we have some improvements lined up for 4.2 that will make integration of these widget sets even easier for third parties as a result, too.

  10. Swell… you can never have enough Clock, Weather and Sticky Note widgets on your desktop….

  11. Aren’t Google’s Gadgets proprietary software?

    Given that, and their woeful record regarding privacy, installing their software on a KDE desktop seems like a big mistake. This is also shooting ourselves in the foot if are goal is to give people software with the freedom to be controlled by the users and user communities.

  12. Ciaran, your concenrs are totally valid. However, it is up to the user to decide what is good for him, not up to the KDE people. So the ability is given, nothing more.

    Freedom is, after all, also a matter of choice.

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