A Shopping Widget


Back in late April I needed to do some advanced validation and testing of a RESTful XML web service we’ve been enhancing for various projects.

To that end, I put together a rudimentary test … “page” … in HTML/CSS/JavaScript. Then figured … “what the heck”, I might as well throw this in a Dashboard widget. After toying with it for a couple of days, I told my boss: “with help on design and UI guidance, within a couple of weeks I could likely turn this into something pretty darned close to insanely useful”. He agreed. From here, coding this widget more or less became an addiction I couldn’t pry myself away from … day or night. A Shopping Widget

So here it is folks …

Being used to coding defensively and resorting to hacks to get advanced layout and dynamic code working properly in Windows Internet Explorer, it was most refreshing to just work in WebKit, where everything, as far as i could tell, just behaved as i’d expected it to, according to W3C standards.

As of this writing, not a single line of Cocoa was used in this widget (this may not remain the case): it’s 100% HTML/CSS/DOM/JavaScript and 24-bit PNG graphics.

The widget has a built-in update notification mechanism, and will stop working until you update, whenever one is available. I understand some users may find this annoying, but it’s a rather painless process, and ensures compatibility with the web service that powers it.

One huge shortcoming of this widget, is that it doesn’t quite support international stores, but that might change based on demand.

It might be a rough ride over the next couple of weeks, with numerous updates to the widget to field various issues. I’ll be keeping my eyes on comments. I’m hoping to read your thoughts on all this.

One key aspect of online shopping that’s often frustrating is the amount of leg work required to perform basic comparison shopping, across multiple marketplaces and retailers. I’ve often found myself opening-up many browser windows, and many tabs in each browser window, to pursue multiple shopping tracks. Few sites bother to save your shopping history, and once your browser windows are closed, you’ve lost most everything.

Another frustration is the amount of information thrown at me on traditional web pages. With all this real-estate available, and quarterly revenue pressures, we start seeing more ads, links, and clutter.

The widget won’t of course replace your favorite in-depth comparison shopping sites, or the comfort of Amazon.com, as that’d be beyond the scope of a mere widget. But it ought to go a long way to bring useful information to your fingertips, in a user interface reasonably free from clutter.

See also: the official beta announcement.


Chris Holland

l0ne: a: you know … that’s a good point 8) there’s a story behind this, and i wish i could bore you with its details, but i agree :) b: yarrgh! :) thanks! :)


Nitpicking: a. Dropping ‘widget’ from the front would be nice. I know it’s a widget :), and b. Isn’t the main “light source” of OS X from the top? You’ve made a drop shadow with light coming from the top left…


Wow, very nicely done. The eBay implementation is pretty great. I use eBay for about 80% of the stuff I buy online, and the interface on your widget is a lot nicer than the one on their site.


Looks good Chris, I downloaded it a while ago while you were still testing it. Seems since clean and simple.

Sadly, being in Australia it’s not alot of use to me, but good work.

Chris Holland

quick update: known issue: i’ve been working on tuning our usage of the Amazon API to filter out less relevant stuff. This should get fixed soon.

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