Easy come, easy go: Sprout “sunsets” its consumer widget service

Sprout logoI am seriously conflicted about how to feel about Sprout‘s decision to “sunset” its consumer widget-building software-as-a-service tool, Sprout Builder.

By “sunset,” of course, Sprout means “kill.” For a startup, they’ve certainly learned the corporate art of doubletalk.

I’ve been raving about Sprout Builder since its debut. Before Sprout Builder, dynamic, multimedia widgets were a costly undertaking requiring programming expertise. Sprout Builder made it drop-dead easy for anybody to create one and deploy it. I got myself a free account and created two for my podcast, For Immediate Release. Fans of the show were able to copy the… Read More »

Death Watch: Feeds are important, but widgets still work

Twitter and Facebook’s rising popularity have altered the online habits of more than a few people. Given the volume of information that comes our way through the tweets and status updates of those we follow, many are now convinced that the news finds us.

Certainly I discover a lot of interesting news by way of shortened URLs embedded in tweets, and the recent use of Twitter to direct Central Texans to the site of a hospital treating victims of the Fort Hood shootings exemplifies the ways Twitter increasingly is being used as a news delivery vehicle. But given the speed with which tweets fly by, I’m bound to miss a lot of news if I’m… Read More »

WebShare weekend: Britannica initiative gets boost from TechCrunch

What a weekend.

It started quietly enough. I’ve been working with my client, Encyclopaedia Britannica, to prepare for the hard launch of its WebShare program, set for next Monday with the distribution of the official press release (to be accompanied, of course, by a social media version).

Shel Holtz

Tom Panelas, the director of Corporate Communications at Britannica, brought me in to help promote WebShare, which has two distinct purposes:

  • Give free Britannica accounts to bloggers and other web publishers so they can use the site in their research, cite Britannica articles and provide selective access to Britannica through links in their… Read More »

Sprout moves to public beta

Shel HoltzIf you need proof that widgets are popular with both publishers and viewers, take a look at Sprout, a Web app that lets you create sophisticated widgets with ease. (The widget that plays the latest episode of For Immediate Release, over on the right-hand side of this blog and wherever you, dear reader, choose to put it using the “share” code, took about 10 minutes to create using Sprout.) According to an email I received from the Sprout team, the private beta led 5,000 people to create 17,000 widgets that have been viewed by 11 million people.

Concurrent with the release of an upgrade to the application that responds to input from… Read More »

Get the FIR widget!

I found a new service called Sprout that allows you to build a widget that plays multimedia, among a lot of other things. It’s remarkably easy to use, as I found out when I managed to get into the beta. It took about 10 minutes to build this widget, which plays the most current episode of FIR. As each episode is posted, I’ll just go into the widget builder and update the media link so it always plays the most recent episode. Just copy the embed code (click “share”) and visitors to your site or blog can listen to FIR directly from your page. Pretty cool, huh?


Widgets go mainstream

There was little agreement when, at the New Communications Forum in February, I declared 2007 "the year of the widget" (although it was covered in a few places, like here and here). Bryan Person figured I might be on to something when he reported on the first conference dedicated to widgets, WidgetCon, held last month in New York.

But surfing through TV channels last night, I saw the definitive proof that widgets have arrived.

Burned out from staring at the computer monitor all day, I took a half hour to kick back on the couch and relax. Nothing I usually like to watch was on, so I settled for Discovery Channel's recurring event,… Read More »

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