Ioan Lazarciuc's Weblog I program, therefore I exist.


Debugging Silverlight Sidebar Gadgets from Visual Studio

Ever since I started working with Windows Sidebar gadgets I’ve been debugging them the same way: enabling script debugging in the IE options (for JavaScript based gadgets) and then using the “Attach to Process” command from Visual Studio.

When I created a template (posts here and here) that speeds up development of Silverlight Sidebar gadgets, I wanted to offer the smoothest development experience possible. Ironically, that in itself has been a very bumpy ride. The last hurdle I had to cross was to provide the familiar debug experience (F5).


Update for Silverlight Sidebar Gadget Project Template

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on fixing a number of bugs signalled about the Silverlight Gadget Template I created a while ago. I’ve had to work around some strange issues and try everything I could to make the gadget development experience as pleasant as possible. I’d like to thank Kiran Bachu for his valuable support in finding bugs and testing the gadget template.

Version 1.8 of the gadget is released for the following Visual Studio/Silverlight version combinations:


Creating a Vista Sidebar Gadget Using Microsoft Silverlight


Some while ago I did a post on how to create a Vista Sidebar gadget using JavaScript. I also mentioned that I tried to create the gadget using XBAP or Silverlight, but due to the limitations in those technologies at that time, I decided that I had to give up on too much of the Sidebar gadget specific functionality (flyouts, cross domain data retrieval).

More than 6 months have passed since then and now I am pleased to announce that I've changed my opinion regarding Silverlight Sidebar gadgets. Due to the fact that the Silverlight technology has matured a lot (version 2.0 beta 2 is now available), Sidebar gadgets can be developed using this technology, without sacrificing any Sidebar gadget specific functionality. This is due to the fact that there is full interoperability between Silverlight and the JavaScript code. Also, cross domain calls are now allowed in Silverlight, so retrieving data is no longer an issue. Furthermore, it has been greatly enhanced due to the fact that one can consume WCF services using Silverlight.


Creating a Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget

I think this post should begin with a few sayings: "Never say never", "When hell freezes over", "Once in a blue moon", "I would rather shoot myself", "Over my dead body", but the best suited one for this post comes from Ciprian Jichici, the Microsoft Regional Director from Romania: "In this line of business, there's no room for talibanisms".

I will be talking about developing Sidebar gadgets. These Sidebar gadgets are small applications that offer useful information, do frequent tasks more easily, or just offer a good laugh for the Windows Vista user. Until recently, I've been trying very hard to stay away from technologies like JavaScipt and PHP because it is my personal opinion that they fall miles away from a proper programming language (C#, VB.NET, C++). I won't go into the details of why I dislike these languages.

Microsoft launched a competition for Sidebar gadget developers with some very nice prizes. The competition takes place in several countries, including Romania. So, I decided to participate. The only problem is that the only fully supported programming model for developing Sidebar gadgets is HTML application + JavaScript.