Gmail Contextual Gadgets: giving the gift of time

Thursday, August 26, 2010 | 12:33 PM

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Your users likely spend countless hours a week bouncing between their inbox and various business applications. However, they could be even more efficient if the correct information was presented to them and made actionable where they need it the most -- their inbox.

Gmail Contextual Gadgets enable this improved efficiency. As a developer, you need to create a small view of your application as a gadget and register a regular expression in your Google Apps Marketplace manifest file. If an email message in your customer’s mailbox matches the regular expression, your gadget appears below the e-mail and has access to the relevant email content. Contextual gadgets are just one step in helping your users eliminate the days when they need to open a new tab to look up a contact in their CRM system, fill out a time card, find more information out about a prospective customer from their LinkedIn profile or edit a project page. Gadgets on the Marketplace from Solve360, Harvest, Gist and Smartsheet already accomplish these use cases.

These companies and others have been successful in delivering rich features to their users with Gmail Contextual Gadgets. Read what they have to say:


“The holy grail of business applications and CRM in particular is to get staff to use them. Integrating valuable processes and best practices within email in such a contextual, non-obstructive way is nothing less than a breakthrough.”
- Steve Ireland, Solve360 President


“While some tout the virtues of relying less on email, that's a battle many have lost - multiple times. We live in our inboxes, so we should make business apps work inside them. Email is the horse, business apps are the cart.”
- Mark Mader, Smartsheet CEO


"So many actions and todos originate from emails. Today, with contextual gadgets, we deliver the user their timesheet so it's incredibly convenient for them to fill out."
- Danny Wen, Harvest Co-founder.

Head over to the Google Enterprise Blog if you want more detail on these applications.

Contextual Gadgets greatly accelerate user adoption by bringing the application directly to the user in context and in their normal work flow. Many great apps fail to gain user traction because they are separated from the normal workflow. Gmail Contextual Gadgets solve that problem for developers, and make it much easier for the end users to see the benefits.

If you think you’re ready to start saving time for the users of your application, then dive right into the Developer’s Guide for Gmail Contextual Gadgets. Since gadgets are based on the OpenSocial gadget specification, they’re developed in the technologies you’re already familiar with -- HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Get started now, and be sure to share what you build!

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