Monday, January 30, 2006
As the Google Toolbar has gotten more popular, the greatest source of ideas about new features has come from our users. The breadth and variety of these requests is so large that it's hard to satisfy everyone. But then we started noticing engineers on the team had cool hacks on their Toolbars for doing customized searches on our internal bugs database, corporate employee directory, etc... We were barely done asking ourselves whether it was possible to offer this capability in the new Google Toolbar beta when one of the engineers started designing a feature called Custom Buttons. Here are some of the coolest aspects of Custom Buttons and why I think they're a big deal:
1) Simple API: The term API is almost a misnomer -- it literally takes seconds to make one of these. I just can't resist the urge to make a new one every time I run into new website. A couple of simple steps and voila - a new button's sitting on your Toolbar (check out the Getting Started Guide).
2) Flexibility: The simple inclusion of RSS & Atom feeds (and particularly allowing the update of toolbar button icons through feeds) has allowed for buttons like a weather button and a mood ring button.
3) Accessibility: Most users don't even need to make buttons. It takes one click on our buttons gallery or on a website that offers them to install a button for your favorite sites. And the custom buttons we built to search our intranet showed us how valuable a customizable toolbar can be to organizations, so now there's an enterprise version of Google Toolbar that can be securely deployed across a company.
And don't miss some of the other cool features for everyone: a greatly-improved search box for formulating better queries; a streamlined bookmarking interface; and Send-To, for posting or sending content via Gmail, Blogger or SMS.