Lala Playlist Widget

October 21, 2008

In a couple of separate recent posts about web music services, I noted that I like Lala, and that the Grooveshark widget uses the Clearspring platform to work on the widget-wary WordPress.com.

Well, it turns out that Lala has a widget that uses Clearspring, including the still-not-documented clearspring_widget shortcode. Here’s a playlist with the first few tracks I added to my Lala collection.

The previous post provides an example of a Grooveshark music widget on this WordPress.com blog. It also notes that Clearspring’s widget platform is involved. How do I know that? Because the code generated by Grooveshark for WordPress.com includes the shortcode: clearspring_widget.

The existence of the clearspring_widget shortcode was news to me. It might also be news to whoever maintains the FAQ: What are the WordPress shortcodes?

If you’re interested enough in WordPress.com to have read this far, you’ll probably agree with me that this is news of the big and good variety. You might even forgive me for pointing out that Automattic seem to have taken the advice I offered Automattic 11 months ago: Make a wide variety of widgets available. Partnering with a trusted “widget broker” might be the best way to do this.

Having said that, I can’t claim to be breaking this news, given a post two months ago by Justin of Clearspring: when you post an ad-free Clearspring widget to a WordPress.com blog it will now show the entire widget inside of a blog post. But I didn’t see Justin’s post until I went looking for it this evening.

I certainly didn’t see the Clearspring shortcode mentioned over at WordPress.com, and I can’t find any reference to it in the official blog, in the FAQ, or in the forums. Guess I’ll mention it in the forums myself now.

By the way, other interesting Clearspring reading includes: their White Paper: What’s a Widget and Why is it Important? and the Wikipedia entry on Clearspring (which is where I found the logo at the top of this post).

Grooveshark is the easiest way to discover, share, and listen to music online. That’s according to… Grooveshark. If you’d prefer an opinion from a different source, you might go to Mashable, where Leslie Poston tells of her two-year relationship with Grooveshark, and of her favorable first impression of its new way to add customizable music widgets to your blog, Web page, or social networking site.

A music widget, you say? Will it work at WordPress.com, which strips out code from many external widgets (because they use Javascript or other code that might pose a security threat). Well, I tried it, and it did work. I posted from Grooveshark and then edited the resulting (draft) post; I didn’t see a way to get code for pasting in to WordPress.com. It turns out that the Grooveshark widget runs on the Clearspring widget platform and… but that deserves its own post.

Anyway, as an example of a Grooveshark music widget at WordPress.com, here’s Nick Drake, doing “Time Has Told Me,” with Richard Thompson on electric guitar. At least, I hope it is. There has been some widgety weirdness during the writing of this post.

Several of the major web 2.0 (I know, that term is so last year… or was it the year before?) blogs have someone at DEMO, where they… attend lots of demos, and blog about them. One demo that seems particularly blog-worthy was the launch of Sprout.

As Sprout CEO Carnet Rogers noted: “Techcrunch, Mashable, and RedWriteWeb posted as we launched and gave us a very kind review.” Marshall Kirkpatrick, writing for RWW, was more than merely very kind.

SproutBuilder is going to explode the world of widgets on the web. This is far and away my favorite product I’ve seen at DEMO, not just this year but ever in the three years I’ve attended.

I’ve just signed up for the beta of SproutBuilder (invites are, or were, available from the three blogs linked to from the quote above). I did build a sprout, that is, a multimedia widget. I won’t inflict it on you. One reason is that it’s a rather sorry and bedraggled sprout right now.

Another is that my attempt to plant my sprout here at WordPress.com failed. I didn’t expect to be able to plant it here, but one of the Publish options offered by Sprout was WordPress, which seemed to mean WordPress.com. And indeed, the sprout did get sent here, to be wrapped up in a draft post. But the “interesting” code was stripped out. In other words, it met the fate of most widgets at WordPress.com.

I intend to cultivate a sprout or two, post them elsewhere, and link to them from here.

There’s an enthustiastic article in USA Today about widgets. It concludes with a quote from Adam Rifkin: “There’s no limit to what widgets can do.” Joe Wickert, in linking to the article, states that “widgets are the future.”

The above quotes do not seem to bode well for WordPress.com. Blogs hosted there (such as this one) cannot include javascript and the like; such code is stripped out. Hence the support forums frequently see the lament: My code has gone from my widget.

There are a few specific widgets to which WordPress.com allows access. For example, I’ve embedded media from Youtube, Sonific, and other services on this blog. I specify the service and the URI (e.g., Youtube and the URI of the video), and WordPress.com fills in the details.

The more intense “widget-mania” becomes, the less acceptable the restriction on widgets at WordPress.com will seem. It’ll be interesting to see how Automattic, the people running WordPress.com, handle this. Options include:

  • Stay on the current course. Widget-mania may be a passing fad. There may be enough bloggers not afflicted by it. More and more services may provide javascript-free versions of their widgets.
  • Make a wide variety of widgets available. Partnering with a trusted “widget broker might be the best way to do this.
  • Allow javascript and the like. I consider this unlikely.

Some notes on terms, reserved for this point to avoid complicating the above:

The previous post was about the implementation of tags in WordPress.com. The bad news was in the last paragraph of the post. I still think it’s bad news.

However, there is a way in which WordPress.com will give you links to your tag pages. It’s the Tag Cloud widget, which I’ve just put on the sidebar of this blog. I think that it works in much the same way as does the Category Cloud widget (which I’ve never used). I’m not sure that I’ll keep the cloud widget, since I like my sidebars sparse these days.

I’m using the Simpla theme for this blog. The version of it at WordPress.com is tag-aware, in that it displays tags for posts that have them, and it includes Tag Cloud among the sidebar widgets available. I’m haven’t checked out any other themes for tag-awareness.

Update: the tag cloud has not updated since I published this post. That’s strange since the post does have tags, some of which are new to the blog.

Up-update: the tag cloud did update, although it took (more than 10) hours to do so.

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