Third Party Gadgets Arrive for Google Docs, and a New API

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Are you a user of the Google Docs suite? If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s a good, free way to make use of productivity applications, whether you’re looking for word processing, spreadsheets, or more. Today, Google has announced that it’s added features so that users can make use of third party gadgets with Google Docs applications. Anyone can write a gadget via a Google API, and you can also publish gadgets to an iGoogle page or other web page.

You can, for example, select data or text in a Google Docs applications, pull up a drop-down menu and make a gadget that incorporates and appropriately formats the data or text. Anytime you change the data or text in the underlying document, the associated gadget will be updated.

To try the enhancements out, you can open up a Google Docs spreadsheet, click on the chart icon, and click “Gadget.” Pick the gadget you want, customize it to fit your data or text, and then publish it out to iGoogle or to any web page.

According to Google’s blog post about the new features:

“We borrowed the Gadgets-in-Docs concept from the iGoogle team, so it’s only fitting that you can also publish your spreadsheet gadgets to iGoogle, where you can see your data-based-Gadget right next to all that other stuff that’s important to you (even if it is just a picture of your dog).”

The post continues with information on a new Visualization API that is aimed at developers who want to do more sophisticated, but similar things:

“If you’re a developer and want to reach millions of people with your latest creation, check out the Google Visualization API, courtesy of our visualization team engineers. The Visualization API provides a platform that can be used to create, share and reuse visualizations written by the developer community. It provides a common way (an API) to access structured data sources, the first being Google spreadsheets.”

Especially if you’re a Google Docs user, check out these new tools.

Have you tried gadgets-in-Docs yet? What’s your impression?

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