A short adventure: Netvibes modules directory

Do you know Netvibes ? This is (in my opinion) the best customizable start page (competitor of iGoogle).

It allows you to put on the same page all the information you are interested in on the web. For this, it uses a modular structure: each user can add the modules it is interested in.

The idea of a netvibes modules directory

Au début, seuls les développeurs de Netvibes créaient des modules, qui étaient accessibles à partir d’une barre latérale dans Netvibes.

At the beginning, only netvibes developpers could create modules, that users accessed thanks to a sidebar integrated in Netvibes.

But on 3rd March 2006, Netvibes announced on its blog the Mini Module API. So anyone with HTML knowledge could create modules for Netvibes. I then tried to create some modules.

Some days later, modules had been created by Netvibes users, but there was no easy way to list these modules. I then decided to create a modules directory. I released it some weeks later at http://twisterss.free.fr/netvibes. The website is now closed, but you can still see it in this blog’s archives.

This directory, that was available in English, French and later in German, was very successful, and most of netvibes modules were rapidly added by their authors.

Collaborating with Netvibes

A bit later, I was contacted by Tariq Krim, then Netvibes CEO, to integrate the directory to Netvibes. Thanks to this collaboration, the design was improved by a Netvibes designer (Maurice Svay), and I added RSS and Ical feeds support to the directory (an idea of Tariq).

Due to difficulties in the integration, my original code hasn’t been used in the Netvibes directory, but my database has been integrated to the Netvibes directory, that is still working.

To avoid multiplying the modules lists, I then deactivated my directory, and replaced it with a redirection to the Netvibes directory.


Finally my directory has only worked during some months, but it has had a lot of visitors. Thus I was obliged to create an advanced caching system, to avoid overloading my free host.

This short adventure allowed me to discover the Netvibes team. I understood too the necessity to write readable code, and to separate it from the appearance of the website, in order to ease the collaboration with other developpers and the reuse of the code. If I had properly used the PHP Zend framework, my code could probably have been reused in Netvibes directory.