Are MacOS Desktop Widgest Dead?

A long time ago I had fun with Rainmeter on other platforms, so this weekend I thought I’d give Geektool a shot on Catalina. I got a few simple geeklets to work, created a few from scratch after setting up a good Ruby environment, etc. But one pre-baked script after another had old APIs, defunct dependencies, and deprecated scripting language. After hacking away at it for a while, I figured I’d give Üebersicht a try, since that seemed like another good candidate.

The results were similar for me – scripts that don’t work. The most-downloaded widget, for example, seems DOA. I can’t get it to run after multiple settings fixes and it looks like abandonware – the last time it was touched appears to be two years ago. Darksky doesn’t provide API keys anymore, but I can’t figure out what happened after Apple took over. (Though the weather widget’s summary says you don’t need an API anyway). I keep getting error messages about an undefined “data” variable.

Question: Are desktop widgets basically just a dead genre of software for MacOS, while we wait for MacOS and iOS to finish merging and share widgets? Or is my experience atypical and I should just keep hacking away at it? What has your experience been with them?

Unfortunately, "widget” is such a overused word that it’s hard to know what it means any more, especially in the Mac arena.

Geektool is definitely not a widget, nor are the things that are built with it (as you already know). It does work on Catalina, although it has a few quirks (actually it always has had a few quirks).

Uebersicht, unfortunately, is one of the over-users of the term “widget” but AFAIK it also works on Catalina. I’ve never used it myself but I’ve seen it mentioned more than once. Did you try searching the forum? This thread looks promising.

I use Übersicht mainly as a way to display information on the desktop. The program itself is still supported, there was an update at the end of September. I use several widgets others made, but I have changed them to serve my needs (eg. translate them). Also I made some based on work of others.

The weather information is from Darksky, I have a key. I wrote my own program in AppleScript to process it, because I can’t program in Javascript. Maybe I should learn it, because scripting on iOS is done with it. I think if you have experience with web development you can make interesting widgets with Übersicht. I learned about Übersicht from Brett Terpstra, but I see now that he has filed his Übersicht widgets under the retired projects on his website.

I guess I have to find an alternative source for the weather information, before they shutdown the API.

I appreciate the thoughtful responses @jec0047 and @FrankV. I had a feeling I wasn’t being clear about what I was looking for, but somehow I think you got the gist. @jec0047 proved my point about all the discussions and resources seeming outdated – that link goes back to 2018. While I’m well aware that well-written code can last for years, I get the impression the enthusiasm for the concept of informative desktop widgets has waned.

I think the summarized, oversimplified answer I was looking for is probably yes, that kind of desktop hackery isn’t much of a thing for many Mac users anymore, if it ever was. I totally agree it can work, but it doesn’t seem like much of a community supporting it. I’m on the Keyboard Maestro forum all the time, by way of comparison, and if that program were to ever go under there would be a lot of hard-core Mac geeks having a very, very bad day (myself included). Looks like desktop info just isn’t as popular for Mac users as Rainmeter still is for the Windows community. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Edit: Having said all that, I think part of my problem was going with the most popular widgets/scripts/geeklets. The better way is to search by date and find the newest stuff. Seems to get more usable results, regardless of popularity or number of downloads, which will probably increase over time.

The problem is that the API’s change, or disappear.