Gadget Checker: A simple way to make good gadgets great

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 9:54 AM

Writing software is hard, and it's easy for bugs to creep in. Gadgets are no different. And while developing gadgets here at Google, we discovered that many gadget bugs only show up when you've finished developing -- like when Japanese users can't see that translation you worked on for ages, or when your gadget turns out to be frustratingly slow.

It's important to have great gadgets in iGoogle. To help you, we'd like to share a tool that we wrote to catch many common gadget errors: Gadget Checker. We like to think of it as a small tool with a big impact. Use it before you submit your gadget to the Directory to pick up errors such as missing ModulePrefs attributes and missing images, scripts or stylesheets. It also makes suggestions for avoiding common latency traps, like unused API libraries, and for internationalizing your gadget. Simply load a gadget and run the tests, and you may find that you've fallen into one of the common problems. If so, there's advice in the gadget on how to address the issue.

To allow developers to use the tool while developing their gadget, Gadget Checker can open a gadget saved as a local file or in the Google Gadget Editor. (Tip: Consider using a special iGoogle tab containing Gadget Checker and the GGE next to each other, just for developing gadgets.) Once you've opened a local file in Gadget Code Checker, you can save it directly to GGE to fix all the bugs you found. Gadget Checker can even check any existing gadget simply by entering its URL.

Of course, the list of checks is nowhere near complete. If there's some pet peeve that you wish Gadget Code Checker looked for, feel free to let us know. We hope Gadget Code Checker makes it easier for you to develop great gadgets, and are looking forward to developing additional tools to help too.

One more thing. We hope you'll join us at Google I/O in late May. It's a useful way to interact with Google engineers and other developers. And two days in San Francisco isn't too shabby, either! Register today.