Earlier this year in June, I argued that JSR 286 might be the last portlet standard, mainly due to the lack of attention to the updated specification. Earlier this week noted portal guru Apoorv Durga from outsourcing firm Wipro continued the conversation by asking whether gadgets and widgets are really an alternative to portlets as "many customers are considering these for building their next generation of web properties".
To be more accurate, Google Gadgets are actually not a standard, but simply a Google specification. It is interesting though to note that portal vendors have added support for gadgets with some alacrity, including IBM in a royal wedding-like partnership in early 2007, JBoss in much hyped integration a few months later, and this week eXo as they released eXo Portal 2.5 with support of Google Gadgets.
Programming gadgets may turn into a very useful skill for 2009, but as Durga writes there are also non trivial issues to address if you want to roll them out for an enterprise solution. While researching for a new evaluation report called Google in the Enterprise, we've talked to quite a few enterprises that have experimented with gadgets. Not surprisingly, some of them were more gloomy than the vendor marketing, but interestingly gadgets have indeed been deployed for difficult problems. Few enterprises, though, seem to have considered the impact of using a proprietary alternative to standards, as most seem just excited to use something new and hot.
Here at the turn of the year, it feels a bit like the browser wars, where developers are busy writing for their own preferred platform, but not really considering the longer term impact. My advice to practitioners is that experimentation is good, and so is organizational learning. But if you want to avoid surprises, make sure to test and plan carefully.