Although they are still growing in use and popularity, widgets are not new to the web. Something that is new is the ability to easily create your own flash based widgets without needing to know a lot of action script or other code base. This is where Sprout Builder comes in…Sprouts, provided they don’t start with Brussels or bean, give the impression of newness, growth, vibrancy and more. This is the idea behind Sprout Builder. Sprout Builder is web based service that allows you to create flash-based widgets, countdowns, minisites, mashups and more in an easy to use and navigate interface.
The Hawaii based company originally began as a three person team using a combination of HTML and ActionScript to create an authoring platform for Sprouts. But they quickly ran into problems with functionality when attempting certain functionality. With the integration of Flex, this became a non-issue.
According to Sprout Builder, “With HTML, we simply couldn't give users the features they've come to expect from traditional desktop-based content creation tools. We couldn't rotate, scale, or transform elements, apply bitmap effects and complex masks, generate page thumbnails, or provide eyedropper capabilities. And in cases where we could, the solutions often were platform-specific or too slow and complex in their implementation."
Create Your Own Sprouts
The below video shows not only how to create your own Sprout, but shows what a Sprout can look like and illuminates some of the possibilities with Sprout Builder (yes the video is a Sprout).
Sprouts at Work
Here is another example of what can be done with Sprouts. The poll below was created using PollDaddy.com and then imported to Sprout Builder. The entire thing took about 8 minutes to create and publish (that includes creating accounts at both Sprout Builder and PollDaddy). Go ahead and vote -- it really works. As you can see, there is a huge variety of things you can do with Sprouts. Everything from video to polls can be created, it is almost limitless what can be done. The best part is…if you edit your Sprouts, the changes take place live across the web upon clicking save. Now you too can have interactive, pertinent, and related content on your site with little to no work involved.
The days of needing to matriculate away from static HTML to get the web 2.0 (and 3.0) experience are gone. That’s not to say that dynamic code does not have its place…it does and it always will. But it is no longer necessary to switch to it just to keep up with the Jones’s.
Other Ways to Get Interactive
Sprouts are not the only way to get widgets for your site or add interactivity to it. There are a number of other places to get and develop widgets…except that they require a certain amount of technical proficiency.
* Widgetbox.com - a large widget library and development center. CMSWire recently did a tutorial on using Widgetbox to create widgets.
* Springbox.com – another large widget library and development center.
* Jing.com – a free and easy way to create screenshot videos with a web based application.