UWA developers: Jeremy Selier
Jeremy Selier is a backend guy at heart, but has been exploring widget-making using UWA, documenting his findings along the way on his French blog. We thought it’d be interesting to ask for his feedback as new widget developer, seeing how his second one, TV Shows, was already pretty advanced.
Due to the simplicity of the widget, it wasn’t really hard to get Personalized Countdown working like I wanted to. I’m an engineer, so I have some good automatisms like reading the documentation and the forums before starting. The documentation is not that big, but for a beginner it’s really perfect to start and to understand the basics. The most complicated thing in this widget was to use the correct function to do the periodical stuff. Not really a big deal in the end.
You then embarked in the more complicated TV Shows widget. Was it complicated to jump to a widget driven by external data?
While building your widget, you documented the creation of your widget on your blog. Did it help you in any way – for instance, helping focusing on what to do?
I decided to do this for me, to see if I was able to explain things to a non-specialized audience. I don’t know if I have done a good job in the end, but it was a great experience. The other great aspect when you are working on an application like this one is the relation with the readers. At the end I wanted this widget to be not just for myself, so when people were leaving comments, advises and recommendations it helped me having a more global picture of the application and made me think about features I didn’t see at first sight. So yes, it mainly helps me focusing on what to do.
Did your perspective of UWA change between the time you got started with Countdown and when you were done with TV Shows?
Not really, mainly because I thought UWA was a great API since the beginning, when it was launched. The crossplatform compliance is just so cool! Like every computer scientist, I’m very lazy… So knowing that my widget would work on different platforms and not only netvibes.com was a huge point. The only idea that changed in my mind was that at the beginning I thought it would have been much harder to get into it.
What were your best surprises, and the biggest blockers/issues?
The first best surprise is how fast we can get something working and being cool. In like one hour of work, your widget is not just a hello world, it’s a personalized RSS feed!
alert()s everywhere to check data… With UWA and Firebug, it just made my day everyday!
Nevertheless, there were some issues that got on my nerves, like the fact that the process is different on Standalone/Netvibes mode, my widget doesn’t work on standalone mode and I have NO idea why… I also switched to Ginger during the development and run into some bugs which were corrected quickly by the Netvibes team.
Where would you like to see UWA go next?
I would love to have documentation like a JavaDoc. The current documentation is good, but I don’t find it easy to navigate through. Documents like the PDF you made is just what I love to read! It helps finding new functions and sometimes helps finding new features for the widget.
The other thing I would love to see is a good management of the internationalization. It’s not perfect yet, you can’t internationalize the preferences part. Maybe the future is to build our own preferences part and not use the
<preferences /> like the last Digg widget.