A few weeks ago, Blogger made some changes to the Gadget API which enables us to create interactive Gadgets specifically for use in Blogger blogs.

I've spent a lot of time these past few weeks experimenting with this API and have successfully built several Gadgets specifically for Blogger, including:

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Twitter Updates

  • Picasa Photostream

  • Flickr Photostream

Plus a couple more which are still being tested before their final release.

Why I prefer gadgets to Widgets

I've found the Gadget API far preferable to creating HTML/JavaScript widgets with widget installers. Blogger gadgets are much easier for Blogger users to install and customize; what's more, they can be accessed directly from the Blogger dashboard rather than having to search the internet to visit the authors site.

What's more, it is possible to access Blogger post and comment feeds within the gadget (instead of having to create code to draw them in), and style gadgets to match the colour schemes already present within the Blogger template.

Admittedly, it can be much more difficult to create Gadgets than widgets. Since experimenting with the Gadget API, I've learned far more about XML, Javascript and various other APIs than in all the years I've been customizing Blogger templates. While it is easy to create a simple gadget with little knowledge of scripting or HTML, the gadgets I feel would be welcomed most by the Blogger community required me to learn much more.

However, I believe the benefits to those using my gadgets are of much more importance. Some of my gadgets have over 20,000 installs already, but with only a handful of reported problems so far I'm assured my efforts were worth the trouble!

How to install Blogger gadgets

Installing a Blogger gadget in your blog is very easy! It's very similar to installing a regular widget, except we have a far wider variety to choose from :)

Simply go to Layout>Page Elements in your Blogger dashboard and click the "Add a Gadget" link in the area where you'd like to install your gadget.

On the pop-up page, the first screen presented displays the regular "widgets" which we can add to our blogs (profile, archives, link list, HTML/Javascript, etc).

To add a Google or Blogger gadget, there are various options available:

  • Browse through the directory for a gadget of interest

  • Search the directory (using the form on the top-right of the window)

  • Add a gadget by pasting the URL.

If you browse/search through the directory, you can simply click the gadget to reach the customization/installation page.