Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sites, Gadgets and Widgets

Warning: entirely a novice.  Trying to give that perspective on using these tools.

My university, Grand Valley State University, is in Michigan, a famously economically hard-pressed state.  Much like Wisconsin, any kind of education funding is suspect and under inspection.  We have think-tanks requesting faculty emails, and newspapers and TV stations soliciting financials.  (The financials are public info - no worries.  The emails - creepy.)

We got an email from the administration with some information to contest the spin being put on the data, and I started wondering about making it a webpage.  So I used it as a chance to practice with Google sites, embed a Google spreadsheet, and a Wolfram|Alpha widget.  Unfortunately, you can't embed a W|A widget directly, you have to wrap it in a Google gadget, then embed it in the site.  This site was very helpful, and the whole process boiled down to pasting the W|A javascript code in the Google gadget builder. I was using the builder at this page, just adapting their most basic example.

The W|A gadget was pretty easy to manufacture, following their steps.  After entering a request, you'll see options for sharing.  The far right W|A sigil starts the widget builder.

The thing that took me the longest to get was just me being dense.  To get at component properties, select a component in your proto-widget.  And then the settings will show in the bottom left.

Then to get the embed code to paste in your blog (will work directly) or to put in the gadget to put in a google site, click on the code button in the embed box on the finished widget.

The (sort of) finished project is here: Facts and More: How does GVSU stack up?

And, of course, I'd happily take any suggestions for improving that page. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I have created a post on how to construct widgets with Wolfram Alpha below.


    Your readers may want to check it out.