Re: [Widgets 1.0] Automatic Updates (1.0)?

Hi everyone,
After thinking about this for a few weeks, my opinion is that the Widgets
1.0 specification should steer clear of features around automatic updates.
The first-order issue is just getting the industry to work towards a
unified approach to achieve a write-once, run-anywhere benefit such that
widget developers can produce a component that will work across many
different platforms. IMO, automatic update is in the area of nice-to-have
features (bells&whistles) and makes more sense in a second technology wave
after the first wave has achieved some momentum in the industry. Instead,
it is more advisable to wait for some of the early-adopter gorillas to
implement and deliver a simple widgets standard and let them make progress
on de facto standards for automatic update and then (down the road) attempt
to codify into a standard the technology approaches that have proven to
work. There are likely to be various complexities around automatic update
that will only become apparent when operating in the real world contexts.
The thrust of the Widgets effort should be to produce a standard that is as
simple as possible in order to accelerate industry adoption.

In fact, I would drop the ZIP packaging from version 1 and auto-discovery
features, also. Most likely, the "less is more" approach is likely to have
the best chance for success.

Over in my world (OpenAjax Alliance), there is a lot of discussion about
mashups. There is clearly a major technical overlap between installable
desktop widgets and mashup components. I would expect that widget
developers would like to produce a single component that works within both
widget engines and mashup engines. As a case in point, there are paths by
which Google Gadgets can work within mashup environments (e.g., IBM's
QEDwiki/Info2.0) and within Google Desktop. I haven't seen evidence that
the Widgets 1.0 effort is taking mashup scenarios into account
sufficiently. This brings us full circle back to automatic update. There
are likely to be some update complexities if a widget has to go through the
mashup container for various proxy services.

But all of this discussion of features isn't as important as which
companies are on board with this effort. Which vendors have committed to
implement Widgets 1.0? Are Microsoft, Apple, Google and Yahoo involved? Has
Nokia committed to implemeting this spec? If the big guys don't implement
Widgets 1.0, then the widget developers will focus on the formats that the
big guys use instead of Widgets 1.0.


             <>                                          To 
             Sent by:                  ""          
             public-appformats         <>          
                                       "Mark Nottingham"                   
             09/13/2007 04:30                                      Subject 
             AM                        Re: [Widgets 1.0] Automatic Updates 

On Thu, 06 Sep 2007 05:30:20 +0200, Mark Nottingham <>

>> Sorry, I don't understand what you mean by "the indirection of a
>> manifest". Can you please explain what you mean by the above a bit
>> more.
> Just wondering why it's necessary to have a split between the widget and

> the metadata in the file (as per your example).

A few things to consider:

1. Widgets that are to be updated may not always come from an HTTP source,
so there may not be an origin to speak of.
2. On connections where users pay based on traffic, downloading the entire
widget to check for version identity is infeasible
3. Widget settings may change between version updates, and an updated
widget may not conform to policy for the device (such as an updated widget
suddenly requiring network connection where the previously installed
version may not be permitted) on which the widget is installed.

>> Also, one cannot assume that a widget was always acquired directly
>> from a web server: it might be the case that an end-user sends a
>> widget to another end-user, say, over Bluetooth. Those widgets should
>> still be able to connect back to their point origin and check if an
>> update is needed.
> I don't think that affects things, as long as the widget 'knows' what
> its URI is.

The URI is not always known, as download URI's may for instance be
generated by a CMS handling widget uploads, and such it may be ill-suited
for being declared in the widget itself.  If the URI is not declared, the
source of a widget delivered over say Bluetooth, e-mail, MMS or similar
may not be known, or possible to derive.

It seems though, from this discussion that we need a common and clear
understanding of what the requirements for an update mechansim are, before

progressing further.  Take this mail as initial input for said
Arve Bersvendsen

Developer, Opera Software ASA

Received on Thursday, 13 September 2007 18:24:59 UTC