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03/24/2008  — 

Simple Rss Widgets

I love to browse off-the-shelf tools and doodads floating around the net. Recently I was looking for a widget to publish our corporate news titles on the gofish.com homepage. Sure, I'd love have time to write this from scratch, I don't... but I have about enough time to try 5 and see what works the best.

Quick summary of the features I'd like to shoot for:

  • MUST: browser compatible
  • MUST: pull corp feed
  • MUST: be easy to implement
  • SHOULD: customize colors
  • SHOULD: customize dimensions
  • SHOULD: be quick to load (<3secs)
  • SHOULD: not give up too much info to a 3rd party
  • SHOULD: serve it in a 300x250 RECT size.(why not?)
    • 305x215 Whole corner
    • 305x40 The heading
    • 305x175 List area
  • NICE: pull & mix several feeds
  • NICE: sort multiple feeds
  • NICE: Re-syndicate the widget

Our Raw Feed
Looks like I can grab a feed of each category. This might make for some handy intermingling of headlines. The downside is that it looks like I'm pulling a whole-article feed. I'll see if I can get this to just pull the titles. I'll set up a feedburner feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/GoFishCorp before using one of these doodads.

Yourminis

www.yourminis.com seems like a neat platform for building and syndicating a flash widget. They allegedly have some relationship with brightcove, I'll see if there's anything worth exploring there.


WidgetBox widget
This looks like a javascript/xhtml implementation. Kinda nice, but let me check it out in a pile of browsers first. Seems like the widgetbox is chock full of other presentations. Would be nice to find one that can handle a few feeds at once.

Some javascript doodad
It's a freebie, kinda simple: http://itde.vccs.edu/rss2js/build.php. Kinda simple, but it looks like I can style the output pretty easly.

Another javascript doodad

Nice javascript-only implementation, doesn't seem like it's working though.

Feed Sweep
Feedsweep is free for noncommercial use, handles a bunch of feeds at once, and is super-simple to put together. Creates a nice dhtml presentation of the title list. I think this

rss-to-javascript
Another freebie, not sure I can get this into the dimensions of the content area on the homepage.

RSS to JavaScript

What do you like? The other folks on the team here seem to like the yourminis the best. I'll put a POC together soon.

03/05/2008  — 

Social Widgets

I've heard the word "widgets" mumbled around the office a few times in recent days. Seems like we're ready to put some thought/planning into publishing content on our sites (a few new ones in the pipeline) as well as syndication ofcontent to sites across GoFish's network.

Social features aren't super-high on our priority list, but since I have a bunch of info on-hand I'll start with a quick survey of a few 3rd party social widgets. Subsequent posts will include more info on content syndication and other publish-y widgets.

JS-Kit: http://js-kit.com/
I installed JS-Kit on http://greacen.com and http://29.netscrap.com in about 15 minutes. I didn't do anything tricky with the styling, but it looks really easy. The admin is simple and clean.

JS-Kit is a "social widget" with these main features:

  • comments
  • ratings
  • navigation (featured content)
  • reviews
  • polls
  • user accounts (extremely minimal)
  • user avatars
  • user reputation management
  • spam filtering
  • email notifications
  • platform: javascript/css-based
  • syndication: rss
  • admin: ban
  • admin: remove comment
  • integration: EASY
Negatives include: not a lot of reporting info available out of the box. Also, I'm unable to participate in the discussion with the lame browser (palm blazer) on my phone (opera mini works however). No ad-units anywhere in these community features.

Can't beat the price or the ease-of integration though. Seems like they're open to white-labeling the feature for some undetermined fees.

All of these features seem COPPA-friendly since there is no requirement to provide personal information.

Intense Debate: http://intensedebate.com/
Another threaded discussion widget like JS-Kit's comment tool.

  • threaded discussion
  • top commenters
  • stats (comment count)
  • user accounts
  • user profiles (avatar, links, etc)
  • user reputation mgmt
  • user relationships (friending)
Neat use of openid! This is much more profile-y than JS-Kit, since users can add links to their blogs & social media pages, etc. They get their own profile page on the intensedebate site as well.

Does it play well with COPPA? Not sure, need to dig a little deeper.

Kickapps: http://www.kickapps.com/
A whole platform for widgety syndication. This seems pretty rich. I need to look at this much more closely. Looks like Brightcove's storymaker on steroids. I'll cover this more when I get into publishy widgets.

  • ad units
  • media players
  • user accounts
  • user profiles
  • blogs
  • videos
  • photos
  • threaded discussion
  • platform: Java, customizable.
  • syndication: embeddable in other sites
  • syndication: rss
Kickapps has existing partnerships with some big content producers (like Rachel Ray!). They claim to have some reporting info available to publishers. The pricing model is interesting: they run ads (and keep the rev) or you buy out their costs on a CPM basis. Seems like a turn-key social media solution.

Tangler: http://www.tangler.com/
Another "social widget" whose main features let a publisher quickly integrate a forum:

  • real-time chat
  • threaded discussion
  • user accounts
  • user profiles (avatar, homepage)
  • user relationships
  • notifications
  • embeddable (social syndication)
  • privacy controls
Seems like a more immersive and 'whole page' presentation than the discussion widgets listed above. Users get their own profile page

Cocomment: http://www.cocomment.com/
Seems like a browser plug-in first, but it's integrated with their "social widgets". Similar features:

  • comments
  • tag cloud
  • user accounts
  • syndication: rss

Kinda neat stuff, I'll get into Brightcove Story Maker, Kickapps, and some of the doodads I've seen on Widgetbox in a future post to this blog.