Windows Sidebar Documentation Refresh

My name is Karl Bridge and I’m the Programming Writer responsible for the Windows Sidebar documentation on MSDN and the Windows SDK.


Based on comments and criticisms of the Sidebar developer documentation released with Windows Vista, I set out to review the existing documentation and backfill and revise as necessary. As it turned out, backfilling became a bit of an understatement and I wound up reorganizing and rewriting the entire document set. I believe gadget developers will find the new Sidebar documentation to be significantly more comprehensive, informative, and helpful.


The results of this rewrite will be released to the Web via MSDN in mid-August as well as in the next release of the Windows SDK.


Along with new Overviews and completely revised Reference documentation, a significant addition to the Sidebar documentation is the comprehensive code snippet coverage throughout. These code snippets demonstrate each of the scripting elements available to create gadgets for the Sidebar. The majority of snippets are derived from fully-functional sample gadgets being released in coordination with the documentation refresh. The gadget samples can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center or, if you installed the Windows SDK and did not modify the standard install location, you can find them at: %user%\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\[version number]\Samples\WinUI\Sidebar.


Here’s a rundown and brief description of each of the gadget samples:


Hello World

Demonstrates a simple ‘Hello World’ gadget.

Gadget Flyout

Demonstrates gadget Flyout functionality.

Gadget Settings

Demonstrates gadget Settings functionality.

Gadget Docking

Demonstrates the gadget docking functionality.

Environment Variables

Demonstrates how to get the value of an environment variable.

Sidebar State

Demonstrates how to get the Sidebar dock state.

Machine Details

Demonstrates how to get details about the user’s machine.

System Diagnostics

Demonstrates how to write an Application event log entry.

Gadget Debugging

Demonstrates gadget debugging functionality.

Text and Graphics

Demonstrates the g:background, g:image, g:text elements and the gimage protocol of the Windows Vista Sidebar.

Time and Sound

Demonstrates how to expose system sounds and time settings.

System Shell

Demonstrates how to expose system shell information.

Windows Contacts

Demonstrates how to access the Windows Contacts store.

Windows Mail

Demonstrates how to access the Windows Mail message store.


Please continue to provide feedback on the Sidebar documentation through the MSDN forums, the Community Content tab now available on each respective page, the MSDN page rating tool, and the Windows SDK feedback channels. We value your feedback immensely and look forward to your comments on our efforts to provide you with the best developer documentation possible.


Karl Bridge

Programming Writer – Windows Sidebar

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