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

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

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  • Copyright 2008
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Adobe DRM)
  • ISBN-10: 0-7686-7987-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7686-7987-8

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.

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

What’s in the Book    1

Section 1: The Foundation    1

Section 2: Developing a Gadget     2

Section 3: Advanced Samples    2

Special Features and Notations     2

Supporting Website    3

Part I The Foundation

1 Innovate with Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets     7

Introducing Gadgets and the Vista Sidebar    7

Windows Sidebar     8

Technology Behind Gadgets     8

Brief History of Gadgets     9

Innovate with Gadgets    10

Types of Gadgets     12

Information Gadgets     12

Application Gadgets    13

Utility Gadgets    14

Fun Gadgets      14

Gadgets in Depth     15

What Gadgets Are Not    15

Different Views–The Three Hats of the Gadget    16

Opacity Level and Always on Top Property     17

Using Flyout for More Information    18

Customization     18

Multiple Platforms for Gadgets    19

Meeting Points for Different Gadgets     20

The Development Platform     21

Gadget Ecosystem     21

Other Desktop Gadget/Widget Platforms    22

Gadget Comparison Chart     26

2 The Architecture     29

Gadgets Overview     29

The Manifest File gadget.xml     31

User Interface and Presentation     32

Cascading Style Sheets     32

Core Functionality of the Gadget: JavaScript      34

Resources, PNG, and Other Files    34

Technology Behind Gadget Development     35

MSHTML Component, the Core of the Gadget    36

Standard Web Technologies     36

Sidebar Gadget as an HTML Application      37

Gadget Object Model    38

ActiveX Technology    38

Gadget Object Model      39

User Interaction and Sidebar Events    40

APIs to Access the File System     42

Core Features to Interact with the System    44

Communication and Other APIs    44

Sidebar Gadgets: The Road Ahead     46

3 An Approach to Design 49

Design Considerations     49

Putting Information First     50

Constructing the Right User Interface     53

Usage Patterns      57

Gadget Behavior     60

Challenges for the User Interface     63

Standard Dimensions     64

Gadget Page When Docked    64

Undocked Gadget     65

Settings Page     65

Flyout Page     65

Other Interface Guidelines     66

Visual Themes      67

Title     67

Icon     67

Drag Image     68

Background Image      68

Controls     69

Text and Style     70

Transparent Images in the Gadget     71

Alpha Transparency      71

Portable Network Graphics File      71

GIF File Limitations    71

About Accessibility    72

Keyboard Access     72

General HTML accessibility     73

Theme Colors and Contrast     73

4 Selling Your Gadget 75

Gadget Revenue Model     75

Pull Model    76

Push Model    78

How Gadgets Give You Business    80

The Ad Gadget.    81

Gadget as a Side Product    82

Utility Gadget    84

Free Information Gadget      85

Supporting Your Gadget      87

Part II Developing a Gadget

5 Creating a Simple Gadget with RSS/Atom Feed     91

Feed Gadgets    91

Brief Background on Feeds    91

About the MyBlog Gadget    92

Basic Framework of the MyBlog Gadget     94

Required Files     94

Directory Structure     95

How the MyBlog Gadget Works     97

The Manifest File     98

Gadget Settings      100

Parts of the MyBlog Gadget    102

The Data    103

Core Functionality of the Gadget     104

Presenting with CSS and DOM    107

Putting It All Together   112

6 Design Patterns and Standard Practices     115

Design Patterns    115

Maintainable      116

Customizable     116

Extensible    117

Elements of Design Patterns    117

Standard Layout for Files and Folders     118

Reusable Functionality     120

Display and Presentation    127

Common Assumptions     130

The Gadget Will Always Work     130

Internet Connection    131

Regular Feed Updates    132

Caching of the Feed Data    133

Memory and Session Management     133

Adding Accessibility     134

Putting the Focus on the Gadget when It Is Loaded     135

Adding Tab Controls     135

The Enter Key Acting Like a Mouse Click     135

Using the onfocus and onfocusout Events for Mouse Hover Effect     137

Making the Gadget’s Flyout and Settings Page Keyboard Accessible    137

7 The MyBlog Gadget Revisited     139

Recapping the MyBlog Gadget    139

Taking the MyBlog Gadget to the Next Level    141

Adding Multiple Feeds    142

Managing Multiple Pages in the Gadget Window    150

Unobtrusive Traversing     152

Docked, Undocked, and Mini Me Version     154

Settings Page Configuration for the Mini Me Version    155

Gadget Window Configuration    156

8 Debugging and Deploying a Gadget     159

Debugging a Gadget    160

Debugging Using WScript and VBScript     161

Debugging Using JavaScript and DOM    166

Debugging Tools    168

Deploying a Gadget     170

Gadget Installation Target    171

Gadget Installation Process     172

Gadget Packaging     172

Deployment Using a Cabinet File      174

CAB File Approach     175

A Windows Installer (.msi File) or setup.exe    180

Comparison of Deployment Methodologies    180

Part III Advanced Samples

9 Site Statistics Gadget with Ajax–An Information Gadget     183

The Goal     183

Background–www.sitemeter.com      184

Site Summary Page     185

Features and Technology    186

Application Programming Interface   187

Loading a Portion of a Web Page with Ajax and DOM    190

Design Considerations    195

Theme and Images of the Gadget     195

Layout of the Gadget    196

Usability of the Gadget     197

Developing the Gadget     198

Integrating the Existing Framework     199

Retrieving Data for Site Summary Using API and Online Web Page     200

Graphs and Pie Charts Based on the API     204

10 Most Recent Used .NET Projects–An Application Gadget     211

Recent .NET Project Gadget    211

Target of the Gadget.      212

Background    212

Features and Technology    213

ActiveX COM Technology     214

Windows Power Shell and Windows Management Instrumentation    216

Design Considerations     219

Theme of the Gadget     219

Layout of the Gadget     220

Usability of the Gadget     221

Developing the Gadget      222

Integrating the Existing Framework     222

Listing MRU Items from the Registry     225

Reading the Registry      234

11 Radio Gadget and YouTube Video Gadget–Fun Gadgets     237

Media Gadgets    237

The Radio Gadget     238

Background–Internet Radio     238

Features and Technology    239

Design Considerations     240

Developing the Gadget.     243

The YouTube Video Gadget     249

Background–YouTube Video Feeds     249

Features and Technology     250

Design Considerations     251

Developing the Gadget    255

12 Silverlight World Clock–Utility Gadget     261

The Silverlight Gadget     261

Background–Microsoft Silverlight    262

Features and Technology    264

JavaScript for Creating the Silverlight Object     265

Microsoft Silverlight    266

Extensible Application Markup Language      267

Design Considerations     268

Theme and Images     268

Layout of the Gadget      269

Usability of the Gadget    270

Developing the Gadget     271

Integrating the Existing Framework    271

The XAML File   272

Silverlight Clock Logic     275

Creating a Sidebar Gadget Using Microsoft Popfly    280

Website Comparison Gadget     280

Creating a Mashup Using Microsoft Popfly    281

Porting a Mashup to Vista Sidebar as a Gadget    283

Where to Go from Here    284

Part IV Appendixes

A Tips and Tricks     289

Automatic Update and User Tracking    289

Checking for a New Version of the Gadget     290

Tracking Your Users    294

Reading XML, XHTML, RSS/Atom, Html, Text and JSON Data     295

The XMLHTTPRequest object    295

Microsoft XML DOM      297

Windows RSS Platform & Microsoft Feed Manager     298

Globalization and Localization     299

Localized Gadget Example    300

Locales with Country Codes     302

Graphic Design   302

Gadget Protocols for Image and Text    302

Sample Gadget g:Demo    304

Creating a Transparent PNG File in Photoshop     307

Creating Outer Edges/Shadow Effects in Photoshop    309

Security and Other Resources    311

Protecting Your Code     312

Gadgets in an Enterprise (Accessing SQL Server)    313

Resources and References    314

B Extras     315

Reusable Framework for Creating Gadgets    315

Sample Gadgets Based on the Framework    317

The Widget-Box Gadget    317

The Comic-Strip Gadget    319

The Trick-of-Mind Gadget    319

Share Your Gadgets    320

Index     321


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