Leopard: DIY Web widgets

Dashboard widgets in Mac OS X 10.4 gave us a cool way to keep track of information online. Unless you had a little programming skill, however, you couldnit create your own custom widgets. Mac OS X 10.5 changes that.

If you want to create your own Dashboard widget to monitor a specific Web site, Leopardis Safari 3 makes it easy. Hereis what to do:

  • Launch Safari. It should be hiding in your Dock and also in your Applications folder.
  • Open a Web site that has something you want to monitor. I decided to make my own Apple stock watch widget from TMOis apple stock quote feature.
  • Click the Open this page in Dashboard button.

  • Click Safariis Dashboard button to create your own widget.
  • Select the part of the Web page you want to monitor. The highlight box includes handles, so you can resize it to include all of the content you want. I kept my highlight box small since I only needed the stock quote part from the TMO site.

  • Highlight the part of the Web page you want in your widget.
  • Click the Add button.

Dashboard will automatically launch and display the widget you just created. You can customize the widget boarder by clicking the info button in your widgetis lower right corner.

One home grown AAPL stock widget.

Be sure to select Web site parts that include information that changes, otherwise your widget will be pretty boring. I chose regularly updated stock information, but I could have also chosen the TMO Hot Topics section, or maybe a regularly updated video from another Web site.

Also, Safariis Web widgets arenit designed to be modified, just easy to create. If you want to design highly customized widgets, take a look at the Xcode development tools that ship with Mac OS X installer discs. Youill find everything you need -- including sample code -- to build your own widgets.

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