Build Simple Widgets with Sprout

Small Web applications, or widgets, have become a kind of gateway tool for Web content creators who want to add simple graphical applications to their Web sites, blogs or social network pages. These tools let regular users with no or limited developer skills build mashup applications that combine rich media and popular Web-based services such as Google Apps and Twitter. For a relatively new field, and one that normally doesn't charge users a fee, the competitive landscape in widget and mashup creation tools is getting pretty crowded and already includes options from major players, such as Microsoft's Popfly. And with the recent beta release of Sprout, it just got a bit more crowded. Sprout's Sprout Builder tool offers a completely Web-based development environment for building simple media widgets and mashups.

Small Web applications, or widgets, have become a kind of gateway tool for Web content creators who want to add simple graphical applications to their Web sites, blogs or social network pages. These tools let regular users with no or limited developer skills build mashup applications that combine rich media and popular Web-based services such as Google Apps and Twitter. For a relatively new field, and one that normally doesn't charge users a fee, the competitive landscape in widget and mashup creation tools is getting pretty crowded and already includes options from major players, such as Microsoft's Popfly. And with the recent beta release of Sprout, it just got a bit more crowded. Sprout's Sprout Builder tool offers a completely Web-based development environment for building simple media widgets and mashups. Users can easily take images, video and music and combine them with blog feeds and popular Web services. I found Sprout Builder, which is based on Adobe's Flash technology, to be very simple to use and I was able to quickly build the very basic widget embedded in this post. But this beta tool still has a lot of limitations. For example, the list of services that can be used is very small, although it includes services such as Google Forms, Yahoo Maps and Twitter. Worse, in this beta version I could find no options for pointing at other Web services (such as through WSDL or other common APIs) or even just using simple HTML. Right now Sprout Builder is mainly just a very basic tool for creating simple graphics-oriented widgets. Anyone looking to do even slightly more complex mashups should probably look elsewhere. To try the free Sprout Builder beta go to sproutbuilder.com.