JS-Kit Easy Web 2.0 Widgets

Filed Under Tools, Websites on 2007-04-26, 21:10

jskitlogo.jpgSometimes you don’t really feel like sitting down and coding a lot in order to provide new functionality to your site. Or maybe you don’t even have the first clue about writing code to add comments, ratings, or polls to your website. That’s where JS-Kit comes into the picture. It’s painfully simple to include their widgets on your site. Can you copy and paste? Good, that’s about all you’ll need.

We heard about JS-Kit from TechCrunch in the post entitled, “JS-Kit: Web 2.0 For Lazy People”, a very apt headline for this small company. JS-Kit started out as a one-man shop, developing widgets that would easily plug into existing websites. Now they’ve got several employess and so far three free widgets available: Polls, Comments, and Ratings. Oh and we should mention that the Comments and Ratings can be tied together, so a user’s comment shows up next to their rating. You know all that fancy stuff you see on sites that have product ratings, and user polls, and elaborate comment systems? JS-Kit brings that to your site for free, and without requiring you to know any code.

I thought this would be excellent for our Sidekick 3 Themes site. I’ve wanted to put together a commenting and rating system for the site for several months now. I assume that it would get used, but JS-Kit is going to let me test that before I even write a line of code to implement my own system. All I had to do was make a few modifications and add a couple lines of text to some of the site. Now each sidekick theme has it’s own rating that’s tied to the theme as well as a place for people to leave comments. To see it in action, check out any theme, like this one.

Each widget is tied to the url that called it by default, but you can also specify a specific identifier through the path value. I made a lot of use of this so that I could have individual ratings for each of the almost 4000 themes on the site. There was a little bit of confusion in getting things just right. Each theme’s url looks like this: http://www.sk3themes.com/index.php?theme=11 because it’s a dynamic php site. Well it appears that JS-Kit’s widgets don’t like it when you use a url that has a ? in it for the path. Oh well, a little modifications and notes to make some changes to .htaccess files and I had it working without the ?. I also discovered that the div tags can be put anywhere, as long as the script tag was after all of them. Otherwise weird stuff happens.

The only downside I see to using the widgets from JS-Kit is the lack of control and stats. I can’t pull up stats and run reports on them like I would be able to do with my own system. In addition, I won’t be notified of comments unless I’ve commented on that theme. But like I said, this is a temporary solution to see if it’s worth sitting down and writing a rating and commenting system that ties in directly to the custom code.

If you’re looking for a quick and mind-numbingly easy way to add a few useful widgets to get user feedback on your site, JS-Kit is definitely the way to do it. Two thumbs up from me and I can’t wait for them to come out with some more widgets.

Check out JS-Kit and for more fun and useful APIs, check out Linux World’s Ten Web 2.0 APIs you can really use

Oh, you want to see the widgets in action?