Wednesday, January 16, 2008

iGoogle Themes API

Recently, on a trip to Shanghai, I snapped a bunch of incredible street photos for my friends and family back home. When I logged into my iGoogle page and was greeted by my iGoogle theme, I suddenly wished I could create my own theme out of my Shanghai pictures and share it with my friends - wouldn't that be a great way to personalize iGoogle even further? It turns out that many of you have been asking for this feature for a while too, and we've listened to your requests. I'm excited to announce that after today's launch of the iGoogle Themes API, we can all get started on making and sharing our own themes.

Creating your own theme isn't rocket science. If you can create a webpage, then you can create a theme. There are only three steps involved: designing images for the header and footer, entering metadata and color information in an XML file, and submitting the theme. To find out more about the API, start with the developer guide. You can also take a look at the terrific example themes (shown below) built by designers Yves Behar, Mark Frauenfelder, Troy Lee, and John Maeda that showcase different parts of the API. These themes, along with themes you submit, will be available in the new themes directory for the millions of iGoogle users. So try it out and let us know what you think!

Earth-light by Yves Behar, founder of the San Francisco design studio fuseproject:

Adventures in Lollipopland by Mark Frauenfelder, writer, illustrator, co-founder of Boing Boing, and editor-in-chief of Make Magazine:

Supermoto Mayhem by Troy Lee, designer and founder of Troy Lee Designs:

Simplicity is Complex by John Maeda, graphic designer, artist, Associate Director of Research at the MIT Media Laboratory, and recently named as the next President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD):


  1. Where can I find a full list of the "trait"s that can be specified. Weather and Time of Day are mentioned--is that the whole list?

  2. Very nice!

    How about a "random theme" option, analogous to a "random screensaver" option? Just have a single-click option to pick a new random theme from the directory whenever the user feels like a change of pace but doesn't want to browse through a big directory and refresh a bunch.

    And maybe to ensure a good quality pick and not some hastily-thrown-together one, it could be chosen from the "most popular" or "top rated" lists?

  3. When can we get themes for Google Apps for your Domain homepage?

  4. Testing your theme is not working. Hosting the xml on my own site didnt work at all. I put my xml on Google Gadget Editor and it worked the first time, but not anymore... I just get the default google theme.

    I noticed that the example ( ) (which works) its enctype is text/plain instead of text/xml. Maybe that has something to do with it?

  5. Humm... after looking through the Themes API, I am wondering why there are no attributes for:


    I (and many others) would like to be able to make a "dark" theme but without the ability to access these attributes it’s not possible.

    Does anyone know why they are not accessible or if there are plans to add them in the near future?

  6. Please say you're going to push this to Google Apps! This just blows away the customization options available on there!

  7. Very nice, I liked very much :)

    But when I tried submit my testing theme ( the submit page raises error messages saying: Missing title, description, author and author e-mail.

    But they aren't missed! So, I think this is a bug in the submit system.

  8. Interesting. Though the earth-light theme seems to get the light wrong for me in Japan. It's probably about +9 hours or -15 hours off which is curiously close to the difference between here and California ;)

  9. I've the same problem that Marinho Brandão
    Maybe we miss something, an inscription or other ???

  10. Great stuff, i'd just suggest that there be some real basic options too, like being able to choose any of the major colors if you wanted just a solid color background.

  11. That's really cool. Great! :)
    I love this Google Open Source things?!
    I would like to be in your team. Can I?
    I really would..
    To think about new project, to think about its realization. I would like to..

  12. How can I use weather in the config maps?

  13. Is there any way that these themes can take up less vertical space? They ALL take up about an extra inch of screen space- compared with the theme-less igoogle, and I want a thinner, sleeker igoogle. Give me color choices instead of these silly cartoons. Or let me upload my own graphic for my account!

  14. iGoogle, Google's personalized homepage, allows users to customize the page's design with dynamic themes but let us know how do i test igoogle theme using igoogle-sandbox.

  15. Check out the new iGoogle theme from Ecko Manufacturing:

  16. Hi guys, there is a new tool called iTheme-U which is at its early testing phase, the tool allows you to create static themes without having to understand the xml file structure.

    The site is:

    Feedback would be greatly appreciated.


  17. Fantastic.. I like it very much. i m using this...

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. Hi -

    I wondered if there is a way to take my igoogle web page and parse it as a screensaver ?
    Make it show my weather and news filters, then present them as pages in a screensaver like Pointcast gave us back in the 90's....

    I am using OSX but have XP if there is any easy way to make it, I am interested in knowing more

  20. educateme, this is a wonderful idea. I've been wanting to see a web page full of current information on my desktop or screensaver for years. Active Desktop in Windows was decent for this, but I guess Microsoft's taken it away. (And after there's a web site--iGoogle--that it's really good for!!!) Did you ever find a solution?