The product space of online Ajax desktops has been growing rapidly over the last year and the open-platform Pageflakes is one of the newest and most capable entrants. Other Ajax desktop products likes Netvibes and Microsoft’s Live.com have been available for a while, and Pageflakes seems to have learned from many of their shortcomings. Among a list of notable new features, the inclusion of support for a full multiple-page desktop ranks high on the list, something no other Ajax desktop does.
Beyond being just an glorified information portal for aggregating feeds, Pageflakes offers an array of free prepackaged drag and drop “flake” modules to add additional function to any page in your Pageflakes browser desktop. These include genuine desktop software style functions like an address book, dictionary, and to do list, something other Ajax desktops often don’t offer or don’t provide easy access to. But more significantly, Pageflakes takes advantage of the Web platform and incorporates some innovative and useful flake modules. Among the better and more unique ones were drag and drop modules for Alexa traffic charts, Gmail, online price comparisons, and a movie finder.
Like all good Web 2.0 software, Pageflakes is a platform upon which developers can create new modules that can be shared with others. And despite just being released, Pageflakes already boasts a small but compelling library of community developed modules including a notable one for the Web 2.0 online word processor, Zoho Writer. This is the ultimate promise of Ajax desktops: to provide a single, seamless, roaming experience for consuming Web content and services and Pageflakes is a top notch reference model.
Overall, Pageflakes loaded and ran quite quickly, even on slower computers. It had no problem with various browsers including Firefox and Internet Explorer. And other than some minor quibbles with the Flickr flake, all the features in the product ran smoothly and were bug free.
Interesting, I talked with Pageflakes co-founder, Christoph Janz, for this review and he indicated that Microsoft’s forthcoming Atlas framework for Ajax was used to develop Pageflakes, making this application an excellent example for what is possible with Microsoft’s comprehensive new Ajax development product. Christoph also indicated there were many exciting new features forthcoming in the near future for Pageflakes, so as impressive as it is today, expect some major changes for the positive in the near future.