RealTime IT News

Google Offers Homepage APIs

UPDATED: Google will let developers add on to its personalized home page -- and maybe build Google Office, one app at a time.

The sultan of search announced the Google Homepage API this week. It's a way of letting outside developers create modules that can be included in users' home pages.

Modules are basically XML files that wrap existing Web content or applications, the company explained on the Google blog. Developers can submit their completed modules to Google for validation and inclusion in the directory.

The company seeded the directory with modules for a weather map, a clock showing the date and time, a tool for customizing the Google logo and two games. End users only need to click an "add" button to include modules in their personalized pages.

Industry watchers are keeping an eye on whether the alliance between Google and Sun Microsystems could lead to a Web-based office productivity suite based on OpenOffice.

By opening the APIs, Google could let third-party developers handle that load.

For example, Writely is a Web-based word-processing and collaboration tool in public beta. Writely CEO Sam Schillace told internetnews.com that his company definitely would create a Google module; the company already has created one for NetVibes, another customizable home page service that lets users mix and match third-party content and ices.

"I think this will get done pretty soon," Schillace said.

Steven Yen, CEO of TrimPath, the company that provides the Num Sum service, said, "I'm definitely interested in this. Creating a Num Sum module in the Google homepage world to be a natural. I see it as yet another situation where folks wouldn't need to fire up Excel anymore just to crunch a few numbers."

Google's launch of modules follows earlier implementations by MSN and Yahoo .

In June, MSN turned on RSS feeds as part of the customization options of its Start.com personalized home page. Start.com became Windows Live in November. Its latest addition was the integration of the Virtual Earth mapping service, now called Windows Live Local.

Following its purchase of Pixoria, Yahoo began offering Widgets in July. Pixoria created the Konfabulator platform for widget creation, which lets developers create and run the small desktop files that can receive information from Yahoo's content stores without the need for a Web browser. Anyone can build and distribute a Widget.