With the broadest ever worldwide release of a PC operating system, in 2007 Windows Vista opened the door to an era of gadget development. Gadgets, which reside on the Windows Vista Sidebar, are small, lightweight, and can be very useful applications. The Sidebar is a brand new platform for innovation and it gives users a unique way to interact with information.
What's in the Book
This book starts with a brief background on gadgets, and then gives a broad and clear view of the architecture of gadget development. Gadget design considerations are an important part of this book and they go side by side with almost all the chapters that deal with gadget development. Once you've read up on the concept and scope of gadget development, the book helps you create a gadget called MyBlog. During this process the text elaborates on the architecture, design constraints, and implementation details for the gadget and then details some standard practices applicable to all gadget development. The last section deals with more advanced gadget examples that utilize .NET, XML, XHTML, CSS, Ajax, and Microsoft Silverlight.
This book is divided into three broad sections.
Section 1: The Foundation
The four chapters in this first section give a thorough background of Sidebar gadgets. The section explains the types of gadgets, the architecture, and the technology behind the gadget development. The "Approach to Design" chapter helps you know the difference between a merely good-looking gadget and a one that is professional, rich, and worth the space it takes up on the user's desktop. The last chapter discusses the revenue model of the gadget: what you need to know to sell your gadgets.
Section 2: Developing a Gadget
This section walks you through the standard development process of a gadget. It details the creation of the basic MyBlog Gadget, which makes use of an RSS/Atom feed. It also goes through best practices with the user interface, design guidelines, and common assumptions. The later chapters improve on the basic gadget based on standard practices and also deal with deploying and distributing a gadget.
Section 3: Advanced Samples
The section deals with advanced samples. You will be able to create advanced gadgets such as a Site Statistics Gadget, a Radio Gadget, and a YouTube Video Gadget. All the samples follow standard patterns, making it easier to switch between the features and functionality you want, when you want. You will also learn how to use ActiveX COM for creating a utility gadget with a sample .Net Most Recent Used (MRU) Gadget. The final chapter shows you how to create a gadget with Microsoft Silverlight. You will also see how, in just a few minutes, to create a Sidebar gadget with Microsoft Popfly.
If you are a relatively new gadget developer, I would suggest you to start with the first section. If you have basic background knowledge of gadgets and you just want to start with the step-by-step practical approach to gadget development, you can directly start with the second section, "Developing a Gadget." The third section, "Advanced Samples," is for people who have developed a gadget and want to go beyond the basics of gadget development. Each chapter in the third section is actually an advanced sample dealing with a particular type of gadget in a scenario of its own.
Special Features and Notations
This book is meant to be a definite, precise, and concrete guide for gadget development. By pruning redundant information and filtering and highlighting the information that is more crucial, we have tried to make it as comprehensive as possible. This book includes various features and conventions that help you get the most out of the book.
Sample single code lines will look like this:
Statement one;Statement two;
Other comments will also show up in the code with two backslashes
// Comment one// Comment two
The book also uses the following boxes for important information:
Note - A Note includes extra information to broaden your understanding of a topic.
Tip - A Tip provides alternative, shortcuts, or insider information of the topic being discussed.
Caution - A Caution warns you of potential traps and pitfalls.
The book has a supporting website where you can download all the codes and gadgets. The website also has blogs I have written on Sidebar gadgets and some of my personal views on gadget development. You are invited to check that site and contact me personally. You will also find errata and most updated information there.
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