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Prior art: What was a "widget" and a "widget engine" circa 2004-2005?

From: Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 18:49:14 +0200
To: public-widgets-pag@w3.org
Message-ID: <3AF9A3D53706491DA5B912114FF68BCB@marcosc.com>
Below lists so definitions of the word widget and widget engine circa 2005. The purpose it to show what range of software can be "legally" (IANAL) considered a widget engine or a widget around 2005 (that is, to provide "evidence showing the usage of the terms in the field of art" [1]). This is legally relevant as [1] states:

"Claim interpretation is highly context-dependent. The person of ordinary skill in the art "is deemed to read the words used in the patent documents with an understanding of their meaning in the field, and to have knowledge of any special meaning and usage in the field." The meaning that this person would give to claim language, after having considered the intrinsic and extrinsic evidence, is the "ordinary meaning" of the claim terms. This ordinary meaning is considered to be the "objective baseline" for claim construction. Interpreting patent claims thus requires the court to consider "the same resources as would that person, viz., the patent specification and the prosecution history." The patent and its prosecution history "usually provide[] the technological and temporal context to enable the court to ascertain the meaning of the claim to a person having ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention." Thus, patent claims are to be interpreted in light of this "intrinsic" evidence (i.e., the patent specification and its prosecution history) as well as pertinent "extrinsic" evidence (i.e., evidence showing the usage of the terms in the field of art)."

Given that the ordinary meaning of "widget" needs to be that of says circa October 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 I think It can be easily proved (through historical sources) that widget does not mean what Apple implies it to mean in their patent or as how it is defined now (2011) in the W3C widget specs. There were fairly congruent meaning to widgets (and synonyms: desklets and gadgets).  

* adesklets: 2005 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adesklets) http://web.archive.org/web/20050210003134/http://adesklets.sourceforge.net/
  "adesklets ... provides to scripted languages a clean and simple way to write great looking, mildly interactive desktop integrated graphic applets (aka "desklets")."

* AveDesk (2003) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AveDesk)
2007: "desklets are small graphically pleasing mini-applications that are useful and fun to use. A desklet can be anything, a small sticky note, a weather foresight, a calculator, etc. It all depends on the imagination of the desklet creator. In recent years desklets —or widgets, as they are also called— have been rising up. Many different applications were born after AveDesk that also host widgets. However, AveDesk has a unique set of features that make it distinct from any other widget application out there:"

* DesktopX (2000-2005) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DesktopX)  
2005: http://web.archive.org/web/20050525114202/http://www.stardock.com/products/desktopx/documentation/user/loading_widgets.html (http://web.archive.org/web/20050922082137/http://www.stardock.com/products/desktopx/resources.asp)
"As we previously established, widgets are DesktopX objects that were combined together to create some sort of “mini-application” and then exported as an .EXE that uses the DesktopX run-time DLLs installed on your computer to run."

* Kapsules (Oct 2005) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapsules)  
October, 2005: "Kapsules is a completly free, scriptable widget engine for Windows. Widgets are small application-like tools which rest on your desktop. They can help make you more productive, display information, entertain your brain, or just give you something to smile at."

* KlipFolio (2001-2011) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klipfolio_Dashboard)
Clipfolio applications are listed in Widgipedia, so are classified by the community at large as a widget:

* Konfabulator  http://web.archive.org/web/20050828201816/http://www.konfabulator.com/info
"Konfabulator is a JavaScript runtime engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to. Widgets can be alarm clocks, calculators, can tell you your WiFi signal strength, will fetch the latest stock quotes for your preferred symbols, and even give your current local weather."

* Macromedia Central (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macromedia_Central)  
"Macromedia Central was a runtime environment developed by Macromedia (now just Adobe since being acquired) for developing application software that runs on different operating systems and are distributed over the Internet."
Very relevant at prior at:  
See Security: http://www.adobe.com/support/documentation/en/central/1_5/releasenotes.html  
Security model: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flash/articles/fplayer_security.html

* SuperKaramba (2003) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SuperKaramba)  
June 6, 2005:  "Theme writers create themes, or text files that define their widget. Then, they can optionally add python scripting to make their widget interactive. The possibilities are endless!"


The following can be used to prove that "widgets" are not restricted to being constructed out of HTML, CSS, and Javascript:  

* Wikipedia 2006, september 2006: http://web.archive.org/web/20060913000000/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widget_engine
"In computer software, a '''widget engine''' is host software system for physically inspired Applets on the desktop ('''''desktop widgets'''''). Originally, Desk_accessories were developed to provide a small degree of multitasking, but when real multitasking OSes became available, these were replaced by normal applications. However, the widget model is attractive because of ease of development. Most widgets can be created with a few images and from less than ten to several hundred lines of XML/JavaScript/VBScript, depending on their complexity
. == Desktop widgets ==  
In Dashboard running under Mac_OS_X_v10.4]] Two commonly referred to type of widgets are the Yahoo!_Widgets and the Dashboard widgets of Apple_Macintosh computer users (Microsoft refers to them as Gadgets both in Windows_Vista and the Windows_Live system.). Widgets, in this case, are downloadable interactive virtual tools that provide services such as showing the user the latest news, the current weather, a dictionary, a map program, sticky notes, or even a language translator, among other things. A desktop widget typically provides easy access to frequently used functions or provides some visual information. Early examples of widgets were desk accessories on Mac_OS. Typical widgets include News_aggregators, clocks, Calculators, Calendars, Desktop_notes and Weather_forecasts.

 == Mobile widgets ==  
Mobile widgets are like desktop widgets, but for a mobile phone. Mobile widgets can maximize screen space use. Mobile widget engines includes Widsets, Mobidgets and BluePulse.

 == Significant widget engines ==  
On Windows, support for widgets is mainly provided by Yahoo!_Widgets (formerly Konfabulator), Samurize, DesktopX, Kapsules, AveDesk, and similar widget engines. Native support for widgets is included in Mac_OS_X_v10.4 (via Dashboard). Microsoft's Windows will support Gadgets natively in Windows Vista via the Windows_Sidebar. The cross-platform Opera Web_browser supports widgets since version 9. In Linux, the software SuperKaramba allows users to place widgets on their desktop. Other programs which can display or are widget engines for Operating_systems are: *Dashboard from Apple_Computer's Mac_OS_X_v10.4 (Tiger) operating system, a transparent layer that displays mini applications, or "widgets". *Yahoo!_Widget_Engine (formerly called Konfabulator) is a cross-platform application that allows users to run and build mini-applications, or "Widgets". *Kapsules, a free project for Microsoft_Windows that first aimed to replicate the above Mac OS X v10.4 functionality, and is now compatible with many scripting languages. *Google_Desktop, a free utility that helps you search your desktop for files and also has gadgets (how they call them) for your desktop. *Desk Accessories in older versions of Mac_OS provided widget-like functionality. "

* "The Year of the Widget?" http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2006/12/21/the-year-of-the-widget.html
Dec 21, 2006 7:00 PM EST: "If you sit in front of a computer at work, chances are there are certain Web sites that you monitor throughout the day, every day—to check e-mail, weather, stock portfolios or sports stats. But, thanks to widgets, taking multiple steps to track down headlines in one place and then check your e-mail in another may seem woefully outdated this time next year. These mini-applications—also called “gadgets”—are simple bits of code, easily dragged onto a desktop or pasted into a personal page, where they are constantly updated with whatever information you want. “It’s the exact opposite of what the Web used to be,” explains Om Malik, a tech journalist and founding editor of gigaom.com. Last month Malik and Niall Kennedy, another tech blogger, organized and hosted Widgets Live—an entire sold-out conference devoted to the topic (in, where else?, San Francisco). “Widgets,” he says, “bring the Web to you.” Think of it as tech jewelry—bling for your blog; ice for your desktop."

* widgipedia: widgipedia provides a list of software applications regarded by that community as "widget engines".  
Oct 31 2006: http://web.archive.org/web/20061031193433/http://www.widgipedia.com/faq/
"But... what is a widget anyway?A widget is a small application that runs either on your desktop or in a Web page. It looks usually much cooler than regular applications and is very friendly to use or to code.

And... what is a gadget?
A gadget is pretty much the same thing as a widget - the name is mostly a convention that each platform provider uses. Usually, the gadgets are specifically running on Microsoft Windows Vista®."

Do I need anything special to run widgets or gadgets?
It depends on the widget. For some desktop widgets yes, for others no - you should refer to each platform's documentation for details. For example, to run Yahoo! Widgets® (Windows or Mac) you will need to install Yahoo! Widgets Engine (just click the button on the Widgipedia's home page (http://web.archive.org/web/20061031193433/http://www.widgipedia.com/). Other platforms may require installing their engines too. For Standalone Widgets, Dashboard or Sidebar gadgets, you don't need anything special besides the operating system (respectively Windows, Mac OS or Windows Vista). On the other side, Web widgets usually do not need anything special to run."

* Widget Wars: The battle for your Windows desktop (http://www.osnews.com/story/8176/Widget_Wars_The_battle_for_your_Windows_desktop)
 September 4, 2004  
"This Fall the widget wars will move into high gear. The battle for the desktop is about to begin. And with Longhorn's XAML technology lurking in the distance (and Apple's Dashboard), widgets are likely to deliver a whole new era of desktop customization."

* Widget Wars: The battle for your Windows desktop! (http://frogboy.joeuser.com/article/27014/Widget_Wars_The_battle_for_your_Windows_desktop)
September 4, 2004  
"Widgets are essentially mini-applications that live on your desktop. What makes widgets different is that they tend to use less overhead by relying on an existing set of libraries that handle the drawing. As a result, widget developers don't tend to have to worry much about drawing their their content. This means that widgets are usually irregularly shaped and very cool looking."

Other good stuff….  
* Google Desktop Gadgets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Desktop#Desktop_Gadgets) ·

* KDE Plasma Workspaces (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KDE_Plasma_Workspaces) ·

* Screenlets (2007, SVG + Python) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screenlets) ·

* Serious Samurize (2002 Javascript/VBscript) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samurize) ·

* Widget Wars: The battle for your Windows desktop! (http://web.archive.org/web/20080609040317/http://frogboy.joeuser.com/article/27014/Widget_Wars_The_battle_for_your_Windows_desktop)

* http://blogs.adobe.com/jd1/archives/info-convenience/

* "Cupertino, start your photocopiers!" http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/5134

[1] http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/09/claim-construction-a-structured-framework-1.html?cid=6a00d8341c588553ef0120a66417fa970b

Marcos Caceres
Received on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 16:49:45 UTC

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