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February 27, 2009

Wookie Meets Shindig: OpenSocial and W3C Widgets in Moodle

Following the CETIS Widget Working Group meeting we've been working hard on our Wookie widget engine, integrating the engine and plugin structure to integrate with Apache's Shindig engine for Google Gadgets/OpenSocial and seeing widgets running inside platforms such as Moodle opens up new possibilities when it comes to more open, "mashable" learning environments.

Just to give a quick taste of where we are now, here's a couple of W3C widgets and some Google Gadgets running inside Moodle using the Wookie Moodle Plugin:

click to enlarge

We've enhanced some aspects of the server recently, and been keeping track of the most recent developments in the W3C Widgets Specification, but perhaps more importantly recently I've been focussed on improving the user experience at the application level. For example, here is the screen for selecting a widget or gadget in Moodle:

click to enlarge

We have quite a few more things to look at for Wookie, and we've got two more releases planned to get us to 1.0; I recommend hanging on for release 0.9, which should be out within a few weeks. We're also investigating how we can better integrate the OpenSocial APIs from the Apache Shindig engine. The Sakai project is already using Shindig for Sakai 3, and so we'll hopefully be tapping their expertise soon.

Both Wookie and the Moodle plugin will be available for download soon on the Wookie website.

Yesterday I also attended the W3C Widgets working group meeting held at Orange Labs in Paris, where I gave a short presentation on our work (below), as did Jerome Bogaerts and Alain Vagner from the Palette project, who demonstrated some very nice extensions they've made for drag-and-drop events between widgets. The specification work W3C is doing is coming along very quickly now, and we should see the final version of the Widgets 1.0 packaging specification pretty soon, and then the related specs such as the API and Events model along afterwards. We've been keeping track of the specification as best we can, but there are still some changes likely that we'll be implementing in future revisions of the Wookie engine.

The next CETIS Widgets Working Group face to face event is going to be in Edinburgh on the 23rd of March; I recommend registering and coming along if you want to get involved in any of this work.

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