You may never have heard of a widget before, but you can thank them for the way you now interact with the Web. It’s surprising then to see in the great debate among portal developers about which to use–widgets or portlets–that there are still some developers who come down on the portlet side. This is interesting mainly because it seems clear what the overwhelming majority of developers are using and it’s not portlets. There are obvious reasons for this. First, widgets don’t require special servers. This is an important deciding factor. Furthermore, widgets can be embedded in more creative ways and allow for the off-loading from server to client. In fact widgets, derived from ideas of reusing code and previously called gadgets and modules, are revolutionizing how people interact with the Web.

Download our new white paper: Comparison – Widgets vs. Portlets White Paper for an expert view of the debate.

A widget is a (mini) independent Web application that is aggregated in a portal page, and can be personalized by the website user, whether e-business or end customer. Widgets become the building blocks of the portal providing the functionality and the content to make it useful and engaging.

Aside from their content possibilities and functionality, widgets can also have their own title bar, action buttons, initialization and end-user preferences and perspectives. These are portal-specific functions that enhance a user’s ability to personalize a widget. This unprecedented level of personalization is what gives widgets their power and why they are currently transforming the Web.

Semantically, widgets are similar to portlets in the sense that they are the building blocks of the portal. However, widgets provide an evolutionary way to truly enable cross-channel, cross-device enterprise strategies.

Widgets are based on open standards and they remove technological limitations, acting as a foundation component in a new, more flexible and open generation of portals. In the context of the Backbase Bank 2.0 Portal, widgets are simply Web applications built with any server technology and client library you prefer, which allow you to implement highly-interactive user relationships and leverage mainstream technologies and the existing skill-set of your team. Moreover, widgets composed of various technologies can coexist within the same portal page. This allows for unprecedented freedom in business decisions since there is no technology locking you in and at the same time no compromise on enterprise-level characteristics such as performance, security and maintainability.

If your development team knows how to build a Web application, they know how to implement a widget, and if your architect team knows how to design and implement enterprise-level Web solutions, they already have all the basics required to design and implement a portal based on Web Oriented Architecture (WOA) and built on widgets like those used in the Backbase Bank 2.0 Portal.