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Sidebar Gadgets

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
sidebar gadgets

I find the Sidebar gadgets in Windows Vista appealing. I never thought this would happen. I've looked at desktop widget technologies like Konfabulator before, but I've always felt like I'm looking at a traveling carnival.

Traveling carnivals transform a grassy field of rural America into a noisy assortment of amusement rides, games, and food stalls. The bright colored lights attract people to the midway hawkers, who in turn entice the crowd with prizes at games of chance and skill. The magic of a carnival eventually wears off when you realize the food isn't that great, the games are rigged, and rides are one spin away from creating a newspaper headline.

Likewise, the irregular windows and glossy colors of most gadgets are inviting. It's not till they've been hanging around awhile that the novelty wears off and you start to wonder if they are providing any value. How many distractions do I need eating up CPU-time and RAM?

The turning point came for me when I thought about how easy it is to create a gadget, and how pervasive the Vista sidebar will presumably become. This opens the possibilities for highly specialized gadgets that have staying power. In the software development world, I'm thinking of gadgets to monitor build status, work item counts, and bugs.

I've been experimenting with gadget development in the evenings, and I can say they are fun to work with (JavaScript notwithstanding). I hope to have an article posted here soon.

In the meantime, here are some interesting resources I've found.

WPF Vista Gadgets - Part 1: Using XBAP and IFRAME

Gadgets: Write Once, Run Everywhere

Vista: Sidebar Gadgets

The Outlook Gadgets Are Here

Introducing IIS Stats v1.0 for Windows Sidebar

Vista Sidebar Gadget for Cruise Control.NET