Gmail has added support for sidebar gadgets to its experimental Labs section, allowing users to add an agenda view of Google Calendar, a short list of recent Google Docs files, and any web-based gadgets using Apache's Shindig standard to the left-hand sidebar. As the developers themselves note, adding outside gadgets isn't exactly user-friendly, but then again, adding too many gadgets could lead to some page-loading slowdown. You can enable the GCal, Docs, and external gadget support in the beaker-icon Labs menu of Gmail. While you're in there, here's a few ways to make Gmail gadgets more convenient.
- Move Labels and Chat to the right-hand side: Enable the "Right-side labels" and "Right-side chat" features in the Labs section to move those sometimes lengthy boxes over and make room for your new gadgets.
- Turn off secure (https) access, if needed: The developers say that some external widgets might not work so hot if you're accessing Gmail through a secure connection, the kind that puts https: in your address bar. That might be a deal-breaker for some, but Google's own widgets seemed to work fine in our own test.
- Find and share your Shindig gadgets: Enable "Add any gadget by URL" in Labs, and your Settings section gets a new "Gadgets" header with a simple URL entry box. Google has only shared one that definitely works—a version of their YouTube scroller, available by pasting in
http://www.google.com/ig/modules/youtube_videos.xml—but says you can add more by "pasting in the URL of (a gadget's) XML spec file." Any of our readers savvy with extensible markup language are welcome to post their own gadget findings in the comments.