See who's visiting to your site with the Footprints gadget

Thursday, June 25, 2009 | 11:30 AM

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This guest post was written by Eiji Kitamura, a developer of one of the biggest portal sites in Japan called "goo". On May 21st, 2009, "goo home" publicly launched the first Japan oriented OpenSocial container. He is also a Google API Expert, PHP Shindig contributer, and leader of the SocialWeb Japan community. - Ed.

My name is Eiji Kitamura and I developed the Footprints gadget for Google Friend Connect. This gadget let's you see which of your members have recently visited your site by displaying up to 10 of their footprints. The gadget shows the name of the visitor, their photo, and the approximate time they last visited your site. Clicking on a visitor's photo will take you to their profile, where you can learn more about them and add them as a friend. Your visitors will have the option to remove their own footprints if they do not want to appear in the gadget.

I wanted to make this feature available for sites using Friend Connect because it is actually quite common in Japanese social networking services. It enables people to see who visited their diary (another popular feature) and encourages them to communicate with one another.

Creating a gadget for Friend Connect was as simple as creating an OpenSocial gadget. Most of specs are exactly the same, except for the concept of permissions. OpenSocial gadgets on social network services always have someone as an owner, but Friend Connect gadgets have the site itself as the owner and the members of the site are then treated as friends of the owner.

To learn more about creating Friend Connect gadgets, visit Google Code. And visit my blog to see the Footprints gadget in action.


Tenkely said...

Yeah! I saw this in the directory the other day and added it. I like this one and it's option to "remove my footprint" as well.

Good work, and GO TEAM VENTURE!

Switcher said...

Sounds cool, I'll have to check this gadget out, thanks.

Highton-Ridley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Highton-Ridley said...

Thanks for the info about the gadget, I've just added it to my site / blog.

I hope it will it be upgraded to allow us to change the colours, to fit with people's site themes.

Switcher said...

@ Highton-Ridley,

You can change the colors, etc.. in the .xml file that the gadget includes.


Marta said...


Where is that .xml file? I would like to change the font size.

Karthik said...

It is in

There is another similar gadget from Gene, available from long back..

Switcher said...

@ Marta,

Yep, just like Karthik said, follow that URL, copy the .xml file to your PC, change the colors, upload the new .xml to a host online.

Then change the URL in the actual gadget code, to point to the new.xml with your own colors, etc...


ryguryg said...

Great job Eiji - love this gadget!


kajamora said...

..good work Eiji. Thx

Eiji Kitamura said...

Hi, I'm author of this gadget, Eiji Kitamura.
I've changed some bits according request from you guys. Please check out my blog post:

sggdwiyuniarti said...

Tanks Frend, is coll for my ad gadget

freehobbys said...

Tanks for info
Can blog added google maps? How do I add google map gadget

Highton-Ridley said...

@switcher - thanks for the info on the xml file for changing colours.

@Eiji: A couple of bugs to sort: sometimes footprints show up as being left "-1" days ago (I guess if a visit happens exactly on midnight?). And -31 days ago (if exactly on midnight close to the turn of the month. These then count down to zero as the days pass and then they behave normally.

Right now I have one member showing -29days and one showing -27 days, both at the top of my footprints gadget.

Eiji Kitamura said...

Hi, Highton-Ridley

I know there's cases where timestamp shows minus numerics. I'm not sure if it happens on midnight, but the timestamp is generated using JavaScript, so the user's local computer time might be set wrong. If that is the reason, there's nothing I can do with it.

Karthik said...

the reason for that might be, it stores the time stamp, in the time zone in which every user logs in. And also calculates the relative time from the current time zone of the user visiting the site.
Apart from the timezone, if the member has a wrong date/time in his/her PC, that might also cause this.