IBM got me confused (again).

For many years IBM have been pushing for Portlet Containers with the JSR 168 and later the JSR 286 Specification.

2008-2009, IBM the Lotus division introduced the iWidget Specification. Based on my reading, it is a more dynamic and lightweight version of the Portlets, close to Google Gadget. It uses a different paradigm than Porlet while providing the same features. A major differentiator with this kind of client side technologies is that you don’t need a big and costly Portal infrastructure.

To not fall in the ‘It depends on needs’ discussions, let consider the following:

* New company, no legacy portlet, no portal in place.

What are your thoughts on this?

  • What would you like to know? Feb 28, 2011 at 4:20

1 Answer 1


Portlets vs gadgets/widgets is an interesting debate, here are initial thoughts.

It could be argued portlet learning curve is greater than gadgets, since there are fewer API's and the technology is based on common XML and Javascript technologies, while portlets have a richer more comprehensive API, instance life-cycle management, inter-portlet communication etc and thus steeper learn curve. General development time to develop a gadget/widget may be lower as well.

Often portlets have better uptake in enterprise community since it is a mature spec. Portlets have been around 2002/2003 while gadgets really started to take off in 2007 onwards. IBM members have been active in the development of Apache shindig gadget server the reference OpenSocial spec implementation. So, I expect the technology should continue to thrive.

The two technologies co-exist well, as you could have portlets which integrate with gadgets, see IBM WebSphere Portlet - Google Gadget integration and other examples.

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