Opera's new widgets system

Today the technical preview 2 of Opera9 has been released and since I quite like Opera and am really looking forward to every new release I downloaded it right after reading about it. But Opera9 doesn’t only come with directly browser released features it also has a new widget system integrated which is somehow comparable to what Apple has with the dashboard or Yahoo with the Yahoo! Widget Engine which is also my problem with it: I don’t really see the need for yet another widget system. Sure, it’s probably using the Merlin rendering engine of Opera9 which at least looks great so far btw. :D

So basically nothing really new if you’re a Mac user or know Yahoo! Widgets. On the other hand, it might be quite handy if you could somehow access the DOM tree of the currently viewed tab from a widget for example to offer something more context aware. Just think about following scenario:

A user is installing a web application like phpBB, TXP, WP, whatever. During this process a widget could offer additional support since it can do some pattern matching with the current tab and find out exactly where the user currently is. This way the user could get a simply step-by-step guide which could even be interactive for completing the installation. Similiar things could be done if you have a problem like that well-known message users get whenever the application can’t connect to the database. In this case a small XPS could start offering the user possible solutions.

Since this opens also great opportunities for crackers a feature like this would have to operate in a cage and only operate on local files without having the option of using RPCs.

Don’t expect to hear anything more detailed here, since this was just some written thinking of mine. And perhaps the Opera Widgets already support this functionality, but currently the documentation seems to be more focused on appearance than on functionlity ;)

To sum this up: For now I don’t see me using it since I simply don’t see the advantage (yet) over the MacOSX Dashboard, but if some interaction with the currently open web pages is possible, it might become really handy for giving support on phpBB.com.

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