Why write a gadget?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 at 8:08 AM



If you're new to gadgets and thinking about creating your very first gadget, you might be wondering if it's really worth the time and whether anybody will use your gadget. I thought I'd use myself as an example to show you the impact a gadget can have.

I started creating my first gadget in 2005, when the first sidebar version of Google Desktop was released. Back then the gadgets were COM based, so building gadgets wasn't as easy as it is today, and the gadgets didn't look that good. My first gadget created about 3,000,000 hits on my server, gave me my very first Google T-Shirt, put me in contact with some Google Desktop developers, and gave me direct access to the engineers behind Google Desktop. I also met some other gadget developers such as Yannick and Teo, whom I can now call my friends.

Since I had such a great experience with the first gadget, I soon started on my second gadget, then my third... and now I have 22 listed gadgets. When the Google Desktop team released the new JavaScript API, creating gadgets became much easier and faster, and the gadgets started to look a lot better. Through my work as a gadget developer I gained more and more experience with the Google Desktop gadget API, which I used to help other developers in the developer group and to write some articles for the knowledge base. The Google Desktop team rewarded this by making me one of the API Gurus -- a small team of experienced gadget developers. I could now use the fancy "[API Guru]" tag after my name, and I received a really nice Google API Guru sweatshirt.

At the beginning of this year I applied for an internship in the Google Desktop team; I'm now in Mountain View at Google. I can't tell you what I am working on, but I can tell you that working at Google is a lot of fun and not just because of the free food and snacks. You meet a lot of nice and interesting people, and you get to experience different cultures.

I hope this answers the question about whether making a gadget is worth your time. But will anybody use your gadget? The answer largely depends on the quality and features of your gadget. Here are a few download numbers for my gadgets, which show you how many people might download and use your gadgets:
  • Tetramino Games: 756830 downloads since Oct 2007
  • Digital Retro Clock: 555172 downloads since Nov 2007
  • VolumeControl: 500392 downloads since Oct 2007
  • Recycle Bin: 267033 downloads since Nov 2007
  • GMail Icon: 194355 downloads since Nov 2007
As you can see, quite a lot of users might be interested in your gadget. If your gadget is well done and has some cool and useful features, your gadget could become one of the most popular gadgets, and you could make it into the Google Desktop Developers Hall of Fame.

1 comment:

Teo said...

Cool post, Benjamin! Glad to see you in Mountain View :)