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Creating Vista Gadgets: Using HTML, CSS and JavaScript with Examples in RSS, Ajax, ActiveX (COM) and Silverlight [Paperback]

by Rajesh Lal
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 15, 2008 0672329689 978-0672329685 1
A one-stop resource for each aspect of designing and developing Sidebar gadgets, perfect for anyone who wants to create killer gadgets
  • Explores one of the super cool features new to Windows Vista -- the Sidebar
  • It is a one-stop resource for each aspect of designing and developing Sidebar gadgets, perfect for anyone who wants to create killer gadgets
  • Includes complete design instructions for four never-before-seen gadgets

Windows Vista Sidebar is a panel located on the desktop of a PC where gadgets can be placed for easy access and reference. These gadgets are small, single-purpose applications, such as clocks, calendars, games, RSS notifiers, search tools, stock tickers, etc, that reside on the Windows desktop and on the Windows Sidebar. The book will be a tutorial to design and develop a gadget. It will provide ready-to-use samples using .NET, XML, CSS and AJAX. After reading the book, a web developer/designer will be confident enough to start developing gadgets for Windows Vista Sidebar. The beginner portion of the book shows an overview of the subject with the design pattern, the architecture and implementation details. The later sections will have solid examples for instant results. In short, the book will tell how to do everything with Sidebar Gadgets using solid, unique examples. Brief outline: " Brief background on Gadgets " Define architecture, design consideration and implementation to give a clear view to the developer " Step by step, create a useful Gadget sample "My Blogs" " Elaborate the architecture design constraint and implementation details for the sample " Detail the standard practices " Recheck the gadget created for standard practices " Improvise and Improve with compare and contrast " Add advanced samples with .NET, AJAX and XHTML.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

 Rajesh Lal is an author, technology evangelist, and solutions engineer specializing in web technologies. He has received numerous awards for his articles on Windows Vista and Sidebar Gadgets and is a frequent contributor to Windows Vista Magazine and Code Project website. With over a decade of experience in the IT industry, Rajesh enjoys taking an objective and pragmatic approach to developing applications using Microsoft technology. He has a master’s degree  in computer science and holds both MCSD and MCAD titles. To visit his Vista Gadget blog, go to

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



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.

This book is for people who want to create feature-rich and professional-looking Vista Sidebar gadgets. It's a guide for designers, developers, and anyone else who has a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and wants to leverage this new and innovative platform. It's for anyone who wants to create a gadget for his company, or for a programmer with a great idea to implement on a Sidebar gadget platform, or even for a hobbyist programmer, who wants to try his hand on a gadget platform. This book is intended to give you ideas for what you can do with this new platform and how you can do it.

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.

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code blocks will be shown as follows:

<HTML>Code in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript</HTML>

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.

Supporting Website

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.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Sams Publishing; 1 edition (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0672329689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0672329685
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,906,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Raj Lal is an internationally recognized digital product leader who has designed and developed software used by millions of people. Raj is the author of three popular books on Digital Design, Windows Gadget, and Smartphone Web development, in addition to many articles about web, digital product design and strategy. He is also a consistently top-rated speaker at conferences and companies around the world.

With over a decade of experience in software industry, Raj enjoys taking an objective approach to developing applications and makes extra effort to simplify complex topics. He has a master's degree in Computer Science and holds MCSD & MCAD titles. He lives in Mountain View, California.

Digital Design Essentials resources at
Facebook page:

Resources/Websites for other Books
Smartphone Mobile Web:
Windows Vista Gadget:
Silverlight 4 Resources:
Web Widgets:

Connect with Raj Lal
Email: rajlal@live[.]com
Phone: +1-650-224-3812

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Typically, technical books have a problem of being dry. They lack style, any sense of enjoyment (seriously - you don't read one to stay awake at night...) and are typically read because you either have a problem with the subject at hand, or you've been tossed under the bus by your boss - who promised you could be an expert in three days. And, he told you Monday was the deadline - and it's Friday afternoon.

Now and then, you come across a book that IS fun, and gives you the opportunity to learn something that can be expanded greatly. Such a book is Rajesh's book on Vista Gadgets. With the technology based in the use of JavaScript, HTML, CSS and Ajax, the skills that you can glean from this book can take you in many directions. The key, however, is learning. And learning something is much more enjoyable and fun when you can see the outcome - and it does something that is, well - cool.

Gadgets are designed to be little tools to do something useful. They are a way to automate a daily task. To keep an eye on specific processes. A way to while the time away playing Suduko when, of course, you really should be working. Plus, they can be very attractive and add another element to the theme of a given desktop, much as the wallpaper and the colors of the windows create the theme.

Plus, as mentioned - gadgets can be considered a beginners introduction to Web Parts - those pieces of code that do tasks on web servers and on client browsers - the up and coming Web 2.0. The technology is the same, the scope and the interfaces into the larger project are different.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, In-depth Analysis and reading material. June 29, 2008
This is awesome book with in-depth analysis and great reading material. User friendly explanation that is even good for the starters. The book contains many topics that give detail orientation of learning and implementation. This book has very comprehensive details that explain everything and require no further explanation. 200% worth reading!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I am a professor teaching Computer Science courses at a University and have reviewed many books. This falls into top 1% of the books that I have reviewed over many years of my teaching. The book presents a great content and a easy to understand style even for starters in this area. I am generally into hard core Linux technologies and have basic understand of Windows systems. However, this book provides sufficient conceptual background to start programming rapidly. The code examples are great to understand the basics of Gadgets. With the book in hand the user can safely assume an easy learning curve. Its a power packed, programing and easy approach to learning Windows Gadgets, and to my understand is the best book it its class. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Book is an excellent guide and must to have if you are looking to create gadgets.
Best thing about this book is its straight forward approach for serious application developer.The advanced samples are very handy when it comes to build gadgets real-time. i have already started using tips to build my own gadgets.

MUST READ FOR chapter 3, 8,9,10,11,12 to get into gadgets before its too late. Do not miss tips section very handy and useful.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get deep into Vista Gadgets technology May 31, 2008
I'm a developer with more than 10 years of experience. I like the new technology, especially of Windows Vista, Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded.
I have created a few gadgets without this book, since the Vista Gadget SDK was a beta. I found myself running into more bugs and problems. I think this book is a great learning tool and an excellent guide, it reports more material gleaned from a few of the tips.

The thing that many books have in common is that they are boring. Well, this book is different!
The author, Rajesh Lal, has presented his book, explaining complex matters in a new interesting way, which makes reading his book enjoyable as well as useful. It keeps the theory down to what you need to know to get the job done, without a load of waffle. The author's approach to teaching, is like a friend telling a story. Creating Vista Gadgets will throw a few challenging scenarios at you, you'll go from knowing nothing about gadget to having a strong grasp on the concept.
Programming delves into more depth in many areas; in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, RSS, Ajax and object-oriented programming.
The book is very well structured in a logical development with 4 sections and all concepts are described with illustrations.

In the first section Rajesh Lal talks about the history of gadgets and covers all the basics. Afterwards, he goes well in depth with more Vista Gadget samples.
You can find here all the basic steps required to begin to think your gadget. He provides an overview about using the manifest, the event, how to use resources and the APIs available. The 3rd chapter of the first section, is the chapter I like most, all you need for a killer gadget, the user interface.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Guide to Gadgets
I don't think I would have *ever* figured out how to create Windows gadgets without this book. I've done quite a bit of coding in various languages as well as web development, but... Read more
Published on March 21, 2012 by Rick
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book on Gadgets, beginning examples too complex
Creating gadgets for Vista is fairly complicated so it's great to have this book to guide you through it. Read more
Published on April 1, 2009 by Adele Drake
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I recommend this book for everyone does not have any information about vista gadgets. Your simple language and good samples, it's easy to learn, how gadgets works and how made your... Read more
Published on December 6, 2008 by Erik E. Nascimento
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST I've read recently
I had been looking for a book on "Vista gadgets" and I find this book very helpful and informative. The easy flow and the transition from chapter to chapter is very smooth so you... Read more
Published on November 19, 2008 by Jayadheer R. Baddam
5.0 out of 5 stars vista gadget unfolded
I think Rajesh has done a significant amount of effort and studies to explain the Vista gadget in his book. Read more
Published on August 24, 2008 by Syed Ahmed
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Guide + Lots of Example + Template for developing Gadget
Easy to understand and written brilliantly. I was able to create my vista gadget in a day.

There are numerous gadget examples which are developed through out the book. Read more
Published on August 10, 2008 by Elar Alexander
5.0 out of 5 stars Gadgets development is interesting now!!
I am beginner to Vista gadgets and I found the book to be explanatory with lots of examples. The book explains design, architecture, deployment etc very efficiently. Read more
Published on June 23, 2008 by manish saraf
4.0 out of 5 stars Your guide to creating Gadgets
This book is an awesome guide to creating Vista Gadgets even for novice developers. It provides all the required knowledge to play with and create your own for a multitude of... Read more
Published on June 23, 2008 by D. Tipirneni
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent source for Gadget development
This book is an excellent source for creating gadgets for windows vista.I am familiar with HTML development projects and this book provided me with comprehensive details with easy... Read more
Published on June 20, 2008 by Abhijit Jadhav
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Topic From this Discussion
Gadgets and the Widgets
Hey Elar,
Thanks for your message, Although this book's focus is Vista Sidebar Gadgets, the technology used for creating any kind of Widget is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. If you know how to create a Sidebar Gadget, you actually know the core of any kind of Widget.

Yahoo Widget uses a proprietary... Read more
Jun 2, 2008 by r |  See all 2 posts
Disapearance of 13 reviews !
Resolved !
Aug 23, 2008 by r |  See all 2 posts
Create Vista Gadgets with Popfly
thanks for the message, this book too has a sample to create a Sidear Gadget using in minutes
May 20, 2008 by Rajesh Lal |  See all 2 posts
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