Twitter Pulled The Plug On Plain HTML Widget?

Date : 2009/10/16 In - Tech Op-Ed
twitter birds

twitter birds

Yea, what happened to Twitter’s plain HTML widget? Today, if you follow Twitter’s links to their in-house widgets, it will only direct you to the Flash widget. It’s not that I don’t like the Flash widget, it is just that I hate it: It’s flashy and not Webdesign-friendly. It seems like Twitter wasn’t around in 2007 when Web widgets went disco and made everybody puke.

If you are looking for the old classic widget, do not worry, it did not disappear:

Yep, the classic widget is still accessible on Twitter. You just have to follow this link (it will ask you to sign in first if you are not logged in already):

http://twitter.com/widgets/html_widget

So for some reason, Twitter decided to link only to the Flash widget, but kept the plain HTML widget up-and-running secretly. What’s up with that?

It seems like something happened during the early August DOS attacks on Twitter:

No I mean the code they used to publish to let people add HTML Twitter feeds to their websites seems to have vanished 🙁

Could the HTML widget be a weak spot for spammers or hackers to mess up with Twitter’s infrastructure? That seems highly unlikely. Is Twitter bothered by the fact that Webdesigners can fully customize plain HTML widgets? I don’t think so either, because it is easy to code your own HMTL widget.

Here is what I think: Twitter doesn’t really want to eradicate the plain HTML widget, but it really wants to push the Flash widget. Why? I see three reasons:

  • Flash widgets show more than plain widgets, like avatars and such. Not so long ago, Twitter rolled out the search widget, which displays tweets withholding specific keywords (it’s supposed to add context to a Web page, but I don’t see it happening). Very recently, Twitter also launched the Faves widget as well. For those widgets to make sense, they need to show richer info like avatars to let Web visitors understand what’s going on. Flash also allow animations to smooth out the drop down list of 140-character messages.

  • A Flash widget, like a picture, captures more user activity. With their Flash widget, Twitter knows a little bit more how visitors interact with the widget, but also what they do around the widget. This is serious widget business stuff here.
  • Last but not least Flash widgets are one size fits all: blog, Myspace, Facebook…

So the plain HTML widget is still on Twitter, but I think that not linking to it is a way to pull the plug on it, and let it slowly run out of breath.

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