Widgets, WordPress.com, and Limits

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: