Widgets have definitely become “the next new thing”. The small snippets of functionality can be plastered just about anywhere on the web, your homepage, facebook profile, blog, etc. Widgets tend to range from completely frivolous decorations to dead useful mini-apps to games.. the list goes on.
As widgets have gained in popularity, various companies have created tools to assist in their creation. Google has created a tool that allows you to either create a widget from an existing template or create your own from scratch. The template based widgets don’t even require any programming knowledge. Just fill out the form and presto. Yahoo has a similar offering. But the most interesting so far has to be an offering from Sun called zembly.
Zembly provides an all in one widget creation solution. You can choose what kind of widget you want ot build. You can choose from a normal web widget, Facebook application, OpenSocial application, or even a Meebo application. They then provide a wizard to walk you through configuring your application. They provide an interface to most of the major data services (google maps, google translate, amazon retail search, and many others) as well as a way to add any other public service you may need.
You don’t have to worry about having a server to host the widget or application on. Zembly provides free hosting with any account. Not only that, but they do allow you to fetch the source code for your application should you choose to host it elsewhere.
One last interesting thing that zembly offers. Anybody can see, and contribute to anybody’s widget. Think of this as socially generated software. Anybody can collaborate on any widget or app. They can use any app as a starting point for their idea and so forth. Zembly does provide a way to disable this, and keep your app private if you so choose, but it appears that this feature may cost in the future.
So there you go. Zembly provides the tools, the hosting, and the collaboration to ride the widget wave as far as it can go. They have the best tools I have seen. They have fantastic integration with facebook. They provide hosting for those who need it, and source code for those who don’t. Now go build your widget!