Speed Launch is Live!

Last year (wow, has it really been that long), Matt Dyor contacted me because of my work with The Magic Folder. He had an idea for a type of application/file/anything launcher. We initially started off with a Windows Sidebar Gadget called My.Crocuts. However, Matt – a patent attorney and fellow Microsoft employee – had been recently working with some folks at Office Labs. They were looking for "grassroots innovators" in the company and he pitched the gadget we created to them. They loved it!

About 3 months ago we started working really closely with Office Labs and they assigned a team to our project and really helped us get it off the ground. Actually, they did a lot more than that… a lot. I would have to say that they took our prototype and turned it into a polished piece of professional work. smile_nerd

Picture

My.Crocuts was reborn as Speed Launch. You can download it from here and read an article about my partner and I here…and here. Have fun!

ClipCollector version 2.0

It has been a long time since I have posted any updated here on my blog. Before I go on about ClipCollecotr, let me tell you what I hope to have coming soon:
 
  • I have been working on a joint project for a new Gadget. I cannot reveal any details at this point, and I know I have referred to it in the past, but it should be coming real soon. Wink
  • I am still collecting material for a Part 6 in my Developing Sidebar Gadgets series. I hope to post that in the next few weeks.
  • I am also about a month away from another gadget I have been working on. Open-mouthed

Finally, I have found some time to update ClipCollector to version 2.0. I have added the most requested feature and that is the ability to save the clips so that they will still be in your collection after a Windows reboot. And if you do not like this feature you can also turn it off in the Settings flyout.

ClipCollector

Like any updates, it should be a day or two before it is live on the gallery so keep an eye out for it, update it and then let me know what you think.

The Magic Folder Version 2.0 is LIVE

It has been a long while since I updated The Magic Folder. I have made two really large additions to the Gadget:

  1. New folder graphics. You ca choose from 4 different folder graphics styles (see below).
  2. A "The Magic Folder" on your file system. This new folder appears in your C:\Users\<username> folder when you turn on the option. You can save file to this location and have them distributed by file extension wherever you want them.

NOTE: With option #2 you can also add to your right-click Send To folder option to now move files to this location and allow it to be a catchall for all your file types. smile_omg I will share more on this in an later blog posting – so stay tuned.

Here is a look at the new folder types:

bg-large-blue-magicbg-large-blue-default bg-large-blue-sideways bg-large-blue-skinny

These styles are (from left to right): Magic, Default, Sideway and Skinny.

I have a few other plans in store for this gadget, namely adding an option to allow you to specify your own default location for "The Magic Folder" on your file system. Also, I am probably going to clean up the new images a little, I just do not feel 100% good about them yet. Finally, and ability to add Internet Folder locations (HTTP and FTP folder locations).

IMPORTANT: As is usual, the update was placed on the site around 3:00PM CST. It takes anywhere from 6 to 48 hours for the gadget to be approved and posted. As soon as it is live you should get prompt from the Gadget itself that the update is available.

Let me know what you think about it. smile_nerd

The Magic Folder Update

This project has been on the back burner for some time, but I am planning on releasing version 2.0 of The Magic Folder in the coming month. smile_nerd

I am trying to work out some technical difficulties with the updates, but as soon as I figure them out I will be posting the update. Here is what is planned new for the next release:

  • Watch Folder – a folder (c:\Users\<userName>\The Magic Folder) will be placed on your system where you can save files from applications or for downloading items from the web. Anything placed in this folder will cause The Magic Folder to jump into action and do its thing.

    NOTE: Unfortunately, this feature will only be available with the File Extensions option enabled.
    NOTE: In further updates I plan on possibly adding the option to place this folder in another location. I want to get feedback on the feature first, before I begin to customize the gadget further.

  • More folder icons to choose from (styles).
  • Small enhancements under the hood to make the experience faster/better.

The big change as you can see if the Watch Folder. This is actually a large technical change but I am getting close to completing it. smile_regular

 

Developing Sidebar Gadgets – Part V

This is the fifth installment in this series. It has been a very long time since I posted in this series. This is partly because I have several Gadget ideas I am working on and one (in which I am partnering with someone else) that is taking up a ton of my free time. However, I have a few more tips for you:

Tip #1

If anyone looked at the source code for my first major gadget: The Magic Folder, you would find a whole ton of files. Mainly because I have many different fly out windows for different purposes:

  1. Error message fly out
  2. Status update fly out
  3. File Move messages fly out
  4. File extension registration fly out
  5. And a few others.

Since that time, I have learned a new way of utilizing only one fly out file. That is by using absolute position in my style sheets and by setting the display style setting to none for frames/DIV segments I do not want to be shown. Like this:

.some-style-name
{
   position:absolute;
   display:none;
   top:0px;
   left:0px;

   /* more stuff here */
}

You can then then add a div like this into your HTML file:

<div id="someID" class="some-style-name">
   <!– whatever you want in here –>
</div>

In your JS file you can enable the section you want to display by changing the display property:

someID.style.display="inline";
someOtherID.style.display="none";

Using DHTML like this in gadgets is extremely useful, plus if done right, you can make your gadget look quite professional.

 

Tip#2

Graphics… oh so important! I covered this very briefly in my first posting in this series. Well, let me tell you what I do. First, I use Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 to create my graphics. Some of you may scoff at me for doing this, but I find it amazingly easy to create stunning looking graphics using the drawing tools available in PowerPoint. So let me walk you through creating a GLOW button in PowerPoint:

  1. Open PowerPoint.
  2. Delete all the stuff you have on the slide (press CTRL+A, then DELETE)
  3. On the Home tab, in the Drawing Gallery, click the oval tool, then click anywhere on the slide (just click, do not drag click). This should put a perfect circle on the slide.

    image
  4. Click the shape, then on the Drawing Tools, Format tab, select an Intense effect from the Shape Styles gallery. I chose Orange intense effect like this:

    image

  5. I then add some text into the shape and format it just the way I want it to lok using the tool available in PowerPoint:

    image

  6. I then add another circle to the slide using the same method as before. This time, I right click on it, and select Format Shape.
  7. I then change the fill to be the same accent color, set the transparency for the new shape to be about 75% and then I remove the border from the image:

    image

  8. Next, I change the 3D-Format to make the new shape look like a gel button top:

    image

  9. Finally, I move one shape over the other, select both, right-click, then select Grouping, and Group.
  10. From there, I right click on the button I created and select Save as Picture. I choose PNG format since it works best with gadgets. This is the result I get:

    image (button.png)

  11. I then make a copy of the original grouped object in PowerPoint. I un-group it, move the top of the gel button over, and set the text to be 100% contrast to it’s original setting and then lighten up the color of the shape to be a very bright – orange – in this case. I regroup it and save it out as well:

    image (button_hover.png)

  12. Finally, I make a copy the brightened group, un-group it, and change the 3D-Format to have a divot or pressed look. I then re-group it:

    image (button_push.png)

  13. In the end, I get some really great gel buttons from PowerPoint with minimal effort. I then use the following code and viola, DHTML makes them come to life and act like a real gel button:

<img id="myButton" src="button.png"
     onmouseover="this.src=’button_hover.png’;" 
     onmousedown="this.src=’button_push.png’;"
     onmouseup="this.src=’button_hover.png’;"

     onmouseout="this.src=’button.png’;" 
     onclick="myButton_click()" />

Sometimes I need to do some resizing and cropping work with my images. For such work I have found a GREAT application that does just about anything you might ever need as far as graphics editing (and it is FREE). It is Paint.NET. Check it out. smile_nerd

—————

Well that concludes this installment. Do not worry, I have lots more to share. Currently, one of my biggest peeves is the lack of a LISTBOX control in HTML. smile_angry There are the drop-down list boxes, but I have longed for a listbox that will show all the items in a scrollable box, and even have the option to check/uncheck or multi-select items. Well, in my latest gadget, I think I have tackled this problem and will share it with you in the next installment… smile_shades

Wow…a whole month…

Well, you would think I fell off the face of the Earth…

However, I am actually quite busy. I am working on a joint project with someone else creating a really cool gadget. I cannot say much about it now, but will in coming weeks. smile_nerd  Currently, I have two other primary projects of my own – new gadgets – that I have been working on. However, with the little one starting school (he is now in Kindergarten), the last month has been just a little crazy. I hope to have the new gadgets posted some time over the next couple of months.

And, I am still compiling notes for a fifth installment in the creating Sidebar Gadgets series. smile_teeth

For now, back to heads down work…just wanted to chime in…

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