2006-10-22

Developing with the Netvibes API

I've been using netvibes for some time, but only recently did I switch from Google Personal. Netvibes has several advantages over google personal including a publishing system for tabs and feeds which has really expanded my daily reading. The move to Netvibes was easy enough, but it was missing a couple of modules that Google had and I wanted, namely the "Word of the Day" and "Quotes of the Day" modules. These aren't essential to my daily activities, but they were nice to have. So, I spent a few hours on Saturday writing these replacement modules for Netvibes, you can find these modules below: The netvibes module API essentially works as follows. You create a page that conforms with xhtml standards and include the appropriate style and javascript files in the header. That's it, you now have a module. This model makes it easy to create powerful modules, however the lack of external CSS or Javascript is a limitation that will make modules potentially very large. I've managed to slow my netvibes experience down considerably by using the wrong modules. Below are links to the current available netvibes API documentation. The API Specification isn't much of a specification but it gives you a general idea of API capabilities. It's cited as being a draft and that's pretty accurate. The document goes into Javascript and CSS support, support for form submission as well as proxies for ajax use and basic module structure. The API tutorials and the API templates were the most useful documentation available. The biggest issue I ran into was that in using the template for rich lists I couldn't figure out why my list wouldn't render properly. Apparently the styles used by rich lists aren't available by emulation, and the module didn't render properly until it was submitted. This bit of documentation would have saved me several hours of tinkering. While having to reference the above documentation it occurred to me that a Wiki would be a better way of maintaining and developing the documentation. That's a change I would like to see. I really like Netvibes. A couple of things I would like to see are; Ability to update a Tab you have published via some type of a versioning system, the ability to delete something you have submitted for publishing, a request system for modules and email confirmation and approval of submissions. The above supplied code comes with no warranty, and is not supported. You should however be able to use it as a basis for other modules.