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Chapter 1. Innovate with Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets

Chapter 1. Innovate with Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets

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Chapter1.InnovatewithWindowsVista

SidebarGadgets

"...theonlyreasontoinvestincompaniesinthefutureis

theirabilitytoinnovate...

—JeffreyImmelt,CEO,GE

INTHISCHAPTER

IntroducingGadgetsandtheVistaSidebar

InnovatewithGadgets

GadgetsinDepth

MultiplePlatformsforGadgets



IntroducingGadgetsandtheVista

Sidebar

Formanypeople,Sidebargadgetsarethecoolestnewfeature

intheWindowsVistaoperatingsystem.Gadgetsaresmall,

lightweightapplicationsthatresideontheWindowsVista

SidebarorWindowsVistadesktop.Theyprovideready-to-use

informationandeasyaccesstofrequentlyusedfeaturesand

tools.

Gadgetsofferadiverserangeoffunctionality,fromgivingyou

anat-a-glanceviewofyourupcomingappointments,tolisting

onlinecontacts,todisplayingapictureslideshowofyourFlickr

account,toofferinganeasywaytocontrolyourmediaplayer.

Gadgetscanhaveanynumberofdedicatedpurposes.Asshown

inFigure1.1,theycanbeclocks,calculators,games,sticky

notes,andmore.

Figure1.1.GadgetscanbeplacedanywhereontheVista

desktop,butmostareorganizedontheWindows

Sidebar.



WindowsSidebar

TheWindowsSidebarisapaneonthesideoftheMicrosoft

WindowsVistadesktopandisusedtoplaceandorganizethe

gadgets.YoucaneasilycustomizetheWindowsSidebartosuit

yourpreference:alwaysontoporrestingbelowmaximized

windows.Ifyoudon'twanttokeepyourgadgetsonthe

WindowsSidebar,youcandragthemtoyourdesktopandhide

theSidebar.TheWindowsSidebarcanalsobeactivatedfrom

theiconinthesystemtray.

Gadgetscanhavemultipleinstances,bothintheSidebaras

wellasontheWindowsdesktop,andthesecanbeconfigured

withdifferentsettings.Forexample,youcanhavetwo

instancesofaClockGadget,oneshowingthecurrenttimefor

SanDiego,CaliforniaandtheotheroneforParis,France.

AVistaSidebargadgetconsistsofHTML,CSS,JavaScript,and

imagefiles,allcoordinatedtoaccomplishavarietyoftasks.You

canhostaminiwebpage,callawebservice,integratewitha

businessapplication,orevencalloperatingsystemAPIsto

createacustomapplication.



TechnologyBehindGadgets

Gadgetsaredevelopedusingstandardwebtechnologies,

namelyHTML,CSS,andJavaScript,buttheycanalsouse



technologiessuchasDHTML,Ajax,andActiveXCOMfor

advancedfunctionalities.Agadgetcanbethoughtofasan

HTMLApplication(HTA)withadvancedfeaturesandproperties.

Alltheinterfacesusedinthegadget,thegadgetmainwindow,

thesettingspage,aswellastheflyoutwindow,allareHTML

pages.

Agadgetcanalsouseadvancedplug-inssuchasAdobeFlash,

WindowsMediaPlayer,andMicrosoftSilverlight.Anythingthat

canbehostedinawebpagecanbeusedingadget

development.

Figure1.2givesanoverviewofthetechnologyandrelated

platformsusedforgadgetdevelopment.Mostofthe

technologiesoverlapinanumberofapplications.

Figure1.2.Differenttypesofapplicationsrequire

differenttechnologiesingadgetdevelopment.

[Viewfullsizeimage]



Inthenextsectionwediscussthesetechnologiesinmore

detail.



DifferenttypesofapplicationscanbecreatedusingSidebar

gadgets:

Aminiwebapplication—MiniwebapplicationsuseHTML,

CSS,andJavaScriptandcandisplayasmallwebpagefrom

awebsiteorpartofthefunctionalityofanexistingweb

application.Ortheycanjustshowanexistingwebsiteon

theflyoutwindow.

Adataapplication—Dataapplicationsthatcollectand

aggregatedataarequitepopularnowadaysbecauseofthe

interoperabilityadvantageanXMLfileprovides.XMLdatais

availableallovertheInternetintheformofRSS/atom

feeds,plainXMLfiles,XHTMLpages,andwebservices

providingXMLdata.

DHTML,XML,XHTML,andAjaxarethetoolsfor

developmentofdataapplications.

AlightweightapplicationthatusestheGadgetObject

ModelandWindowsAPIstogiveshortcutsto

frquentlyaccessedtoolsandfeatures—Quick

informationandshortcutstofrequentlyusedfeatures,tools,

andapplicationsarealsoamongtheattractiveoptionsfor

developinggadgets.YoucanusegadgetAPIstodevelop

utilities,whichexposessystemfunctionalitiessuchas

hardwareinformation,filesandfolders,network,memory,

CPU,andsoon.



BriefHistoryofGadgets

WindowsXPincludesafeaturecalledActiveDesktop,which

providesthefunctionalityofhostingwebpagesandchannels

builtwithMicrosoft'sChannelDefinitionFormat(CDF)onthe

desktop.Thisissignificantbecauseitprovidessomeofthe

featuresnowfoundindesktopgadgets.VistaSidebargadgets

arethelogicalevolutionfromActiveDesktop.

Note



ChannelDefinitionFormat(CDF)isastandardXMLfile

thathelpswebmastersorganizetheirwebsites.Itis

usedtostorewebsiteinformationandimagefile

locationsrelatedtoawebsiteinahierarchicalformat.

Moreinformationcanbefoundat

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/enus/library/aa768024.aspx(keyword"CreateChannel

DefinitionFormat").



Gadgetshaveevolvedasaresultofdifferenttrendsin

computing:

Efficientuseofdesktopspacewithrespecttothecurrent

trendforwidescreenmonitors/dualmonitors

Betterpersonalizationofthedesktopexperience

Needforlightweightapplications

Newdashboard-stylepresentationofdata,whichpermits

accesstoavarietyofdifferentdatasourcesandformats

SidebargadgettechnologyismuchmorestructuredthanActive

Desktopandfollowsanextensiblemodel.Itcomeswithafull

setofAPIstosupportrichandpowerfulapplications.



PartI:TheFoundation

InThisPart



CHAPTER1InnovatewithWindowsVista

SidebarGadgets









CHAPTER2TheArchitecture

CHAPTER3AnApproachtoDesign

CHAPTER4SellingYourGadget



Chapter1.InnovatewithWindowsVista

SidebarGadgets

"...theonlyreasontoinvestincompaniesinthefutureis

theirabilitytoinnovate...

—JeffreyImmelt,CEO,GE

INTHISCHAPTER

IntroducingGadgetsandtheVistaSidebar

InnovatewithGadgets

GadgetsinDepth

MultiplePlatformsforGadgets



IntroducingGadgetsandtheVista

Sidebar

Formanypeople,Sidebargadgetsarethecoolestnewfeature

intheWindowsVistaoperatingsystem.Gadgetsaresmall,

lightweightapplicationsthatresideontheWindowsVista

SidebarorWindowsVistadesktop.Theyprovideready-to-use

informationandeasyaccesstofrequentlyusedfeaturesand

tools.

Gadgetsofferadiverserangeoffunctionality,fromgivingyou

anat-a-glanceviewofyourupcomingappointments,tolisting

onlinecontacts,todisplayingapictureslideshowofyourFlickr

account,toofferinganeasywaytocontrolyourmediaplayer.

Gadgetscanhaveanynumberofdedicatedpurposes.Asshown

inFigure1.1,theycanbeclocks,calculators,games,sticky

notes,andmore.

Figure1.1.GadgetscanbeplacedanywhereontheVista

desktop,butmostareorganizedontheWindows

Sidebar.



WindowsSidebar

TheWindowsSidebarisapaneonthesideoftheMicrosoft

WindowsVistadesktopandisusedtoplaceandorganizethe

gadgets.YoucaneasilycustomizetheWindowsSidebartosuit

yourpreference:alwaysontoporrestingbelowmaximized

windows.Ifyoudon'twanttokeepyourgadgetsonthe

WindowsSidebar,youcandragthemtoyourdesktopandhide

theSidebar.TheWindowsSidebarcanalsobeactivatedfrom

theiconinthesystemtray.

Gadgetscanhavemultipleinstances,bothintheSidebaras

wellasontheWindowsdesktop,andthesecanbeconfigured

withdifferentsettings.Forexample,youcanhavetwo

instancesofaClockGadget,oneshowingthecurrenttimefor

SanDiego,CaliforniaandtheotheroneforParis,France.

AVistaSidebargadgetconsistsofHTML,CSS,JavaScript,and

imagefiles,allcoordinatedtoaccomplishavarietyoftasks.You

canhostaminiwebpage,callawebservice,integratewitha

businessapplication,orevencalloperatingsystemAPIsto

createacustomapplication.



TechnologyBehindGadgets

Gadgetsaredevelopedusingstandardwebtechnologies,

namelyHTML,CSS,andJavaScript,buttheycanalsouse



technologiessuchasDHTML,Ajax,andActiveXCOMfor

advancedfunctionalities.Agadgetcanbethoughtofasan

HTMLApplication(HTA)withadvancedfeaturesandproperties.

Alltheinterfacesusedinthegadget,thegadgetmainwindow,

thesettingspage,aswellastheflyoutwindow,allareHTML

pages.

Agadgetcanalsouseadvancedplug-inssuchasAdobeFlash,

WindowsMediaPlayer,andMicrosoftSilverlight.Anythingthat

canbehostedinawebpagecanbeusedingadget

development.

Figure1.2givesanoverviewofthetechnologyandrelated

platformsusedforgadgetdevelopment.Mostofthe

technologiesoverlapinanumberofapplications.

Figure1.2.Differenttypesofapplicationsrequire

differenttechnologiesingadgetdevelopment.

[Viewfullsizeimage]



Inthenextsectionwediscussthesetechnologiesinmore

detail.



DifferenttypesofapplicationscanbecreatedusingSidebar

gadgets:

Aminiwebapplication—MiniwebapplicationsuseHTML,

CSS,andJavaScriptandcandisplayasmallwebpagefrom

awebsiteorpartofthefunctionalityofanexistingweb

application.Ortheycanjustshowanexistingwebsiteon

theflyoutwindow.

Adataapplication—Dataapplicationsthatcollectand

aggregatedataarequitepopularnowadaysbecauseofthe

interoperabilityadvantageanXMLfileprovides.XMLdatais

availableallovertheInternetintheformofRSS/atom

feeds,plainXMLfiles,XHTMLpages,andwebservices

providingXMLdata.

DHTML,XML,XHTML,andAjaxarethetoolsfor

developmentofdataapplications.

AlightweightapplicationthatusestheGadgetObject

ModelandWindowsAPIstogiveshortcutsto

frquentlyaccessedtoolsandfeatures—Quick

informationandshortcutstofrequentlyusedfeatures,tools,

andapplicationsarealsoamongtheattractiveoptionsfor

developinggadgets.YoucanusegadgetAPIstodevelop

utilities,whichexposessystemfunctionalitiessuchas

hardwareinformation,filesandfolders,network,memory,

CPU,andsoon.



BriefHistoryofGadgets

WindowsXPincludesafeaturecalledActiveDesktop,which

providesthefunctionalityofhostingwebpagesandchannels

builtwithMicrosoft'sChannelDefinitionFormat(CDF)onthe

desktop.Thisissignificantbecauseitprovidessomeofthe

featuresnowfoundindesktopgadgets.VistaSidebargadgets

arethelogicalevolutionfromActiveDesktop.

Note



ChannelDefinitionFormat(CDF)isastandardXMLfile

thathelpswebmastersorganizetheirwebsites.Itis

usedtostorewebsiteinformationandimagefile

locationsrelatedtoawebsiteinahierarchicalformat.

Moreinformationcanbefoundat

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/enus/library/aa768024.aspx(keyword"CreateChannel

DefinitionFormat").



Gadgetshaveevolvedasaresultofdifferenttrendsin

computing:

Efficientuseofdesktopspacewithrespecttothecurrent

trendforwidescreenmonitors/dualmonitors

Betterpersonalizationofthedesktopexperience

Needforlightweightapplications

Newdashboard-stylepresentationofdata,whichpermits

accesstoavarietyofdifferentdatasourcesandformats

SidebargadgettechnologyismuchmorestructuredthanActive

Desktopandfollowsanextensiblemodel.Itcomeswithafull

setofAPIstosupportrichandpowerfulapplications.



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Chapter 1. Innovate with Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets

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