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March 18, 2007

The History of Google Talk Gadget

The history of the Google Talk gadget started in November 2005, when Wes and Dudley Carr launched Gtalkr. Before Gtalkr, they had built Gush, a cross-platform Jabber instant messenger written in Flash and Python, that had a news reader and a free-flow layout. Back to Gtalkr:
Gtalkr is a web-based IM client that communicates with the Google Talk service. There are a couple of things that stand out about Gtalkr aside from that fact that it's web-based. First, it incorporates indexing and searching of conversations. Second, Gtalkr is an IM client at heart, but it's meant to tie into other webservices such as Yahoo! maps. The Yahoo! maps example doesn't integrate into the presence and messaging infrastructure at the moment, but the capability is there. Flash developers will be able to add their own extensions that can make use of our and Google's infrastructure.


GTalkr grew and started to add the features of a personalized homepage: feeds, Flickr slideshows, YouTube viewer. But this personalized homepage was built in Flash and the widgets interacted with the IM client, so you could share blog posts or videos with your Google Talk contacts by simply dragging them from the widget to the IM client. Gtalkr attracted a lot of enthusiasts and it was pretty difficult to keep the service running.

In the meantime, Google launched Gmail chat and started to improve its Ajax personalized homepage. Other web-based instant messengers like Meebo became more and more popular, because they were convenient and weren't blocked by firewalls.

In May 2006, Google hired the two developers behind Gtalkr and the site has been taken down. They now work at Google's Kirkland office, where Google Talk is being developed, and bring back some of the features of Gtalkr. Google Talk gadget, which is one of the first things developed in Flash at Google (along with Google Video and Google Finance charts), can be added to any site, but doesn't have a way to interact with external content.

{ Screenshot licensed as Creative Commons by ASurroca. }

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