Monday, December 15, 2008

Widget (Take I)

As you can see, I've added a rather oversized "signup" widget to my blog. I am experimenting with creating widgets using This one will add your "user" information into the NextDB database when you signup.


User registration is really "square one" of building any website. If we can encapsulate user signup into a widget, then we can encapsulate all other site functions as well. Then, with site functions "widgetized" you can essentially turn your blog, or really any web page into a full-featured AJAX site.

I've learned a bit about how best to do this. The first thing I learned is that sites like have a pretty friendly way for you to distribute your widget. It boils down to a simple button a viewer of your blog can press, and presto, they get the widget.

Second thing that took more messing around than it should was to find a webhost to host the HTML and image files for the widget. I intentionally didn't want to host any of the HTML or resources on, because I really wanted to behave as a nextdb user, who might be a graphic designer or someone in a dorm room, for whom a free webhost was their only option. I wound up creating an account at But it is lame that they don't support SFTP or a better batch upload. But it's good enough. And I think that's sort of the point. With an AJAX widget it really doesn't matter who hosts the HTML file is hosted.

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