...and an interview with Vad_M!
Here we are on our sixth edition of ILDX and halfway through the year. As promised, this issue we’ve got another Community Spotlight: Master Vad_M, generally known as the DX Coding King. And if I’ve learned anything from this interview it’s that hard work, persistence, and a penchant to learn really do pay off.
In an effort to keep the reading time down, Tips and Tricks is on hiatus until next month.
But first, the picks!
Outstanding General Info
Tracer Widget by philmar83
This is a simple, compact, information widget. It has weather, calendar, processor, drives, and network activity. I’m especially liking the Tracer look and this is a great addition to the whole suite.
Great job by the author.
Most Original / Creative
Wing Widget Deluxe by Anakey
I love the dragon. It’s very detailed and something out of the ordinary. The design overall is very consistent from the scaly background, to the fancy font style and the gemstone-looking meters. The widget includes weather, meters, system information, media player, calculator, calendar, volume control, and an analog clock—hence the ‘deluxe’.
Overall, it’s a well executed creation.
Most Innovative / Resourceful
dxPerspector by Skarnivorous
It seems every time Skarn puts something out I’m amazed at what can be achieved with DesktopX. This time he’s created a Perspector. What’s a perspector, you ask? The dxPerspector takes an image, any image, and transforms it so it appears to have perspective. You really have to see it to know what I’m talking about:
The imagemagick.dll is the real power behind this widget, and you can see the widget’s page for more information on that. If you’re using Vista, like me, the script (to date) won’t work for you, but with a few changes I got it to perspectate successfully! (See the comments section on the widget’s page)
There’s a lot DX can do and the ability to utilize plugins gives DX that much more power.
Theme of the Month
Tracer DX by RedneckDude
Did I mention I just love the look of the Tracer theme? It’s cool, smooth, seamless and eye-catching with nice details like the animation on the start menu. All the standard goodies are included.
Overall, the author has pulled off a striking composition; not a single thing looks out of place or inconsistent. It’s a true testament to how big a contender he is in the DX theme arena. This theme will be on my desktop for a good while.
Master Vad_M has been a member of WinCustomize since 2004. From his first skin to his latest, he’s produced some of the most astounding gadgets, widgets, and themes on this site. You name it and he's probably already done it. Here are just a few of his works:
Vad recently became a Master in 2008, and he continues to earn his keep with every skin he uploads and with all the help and advice he continues to give on the forums. He’s truly an integral part of the DX community. Without further ado, I give you Vad_M.
ILDX: Most of us just know you as the Master DX Coder. Would you like to share a little more about yourself?
Vad_M: What can I say? Long ago, I was an engineer and worked on repairing and setting up computers. Then I worked on 3D graphics and visual effects for TV a few years. But I've never been a programmer and I didn't know anything about VBScript and coding until I found DX on the internet at the end of 2004.
I was so struck by the possibility to change Windows UI and create widgets/gadgets/themes that I began to learn DXScript and VBScript. It took about 3 years until I understood how make a scripts. It was hard work... However, my widgets can do all that I want on my desktop at the present. And I'm really happy.
-How'd you come across DX and what about it appealed to you?
There was one reason - my sons just showed me how modify Windows UI with StyleXP. And I began to use it. Then I found WindowBlinds and DesktopX and understood that Stardock's software is more powerful and useful. I uninstalled StyleXP, bought DesktopX Pro, Object Desktop, ObjectBar, ObjectDoc etc... and began to work on Windows modifying. It was around 5 years ago...
-What in your background do you think helped you do well at DX, specifically DX scripting? Did you have a lot of prior experience or did you learn as you went?
As I told earlier, I didn't have any experience with scripting. I began to learn VBScript day-by-day through Internet (with Google) because I understood that only my own knowledge will allow me to make my own, original widgets/gadgets.
During a few years, my motto was - never use the old scripts! I always tried to create (add) new methods to increase the functionality and usability of widgets each time I began a new project. Now you may see the final of this way - skinnable DX Clock with full support for WindowBlinds.
Honestly, I had planned to make a complete series of similar widgets (ToDo, Weather, Programmable Calendar with Events, Productivity Meters, etc...). But my experiment with selling Master Skins showed me that this has no sense. So much work but so little support from the community... As a result I've stopped all projects and I'm not sure that you will see something else from this series here...
-About your widget-making process: How do you come up with an idea for a gadget or widget? Is it born out of necessity, or just experimenting?
Seems to be both things together. For example what do we need to know about weather? This may be a simple widget like "made in Wincistomize" that show us simple messages.
Or a more complex tool like WeatherLab which shows you a lot of details like weather forecast for hours, days and nights, moon phases changing, etc... I nearly finished the 7th version of this gadget which will contain:
1. Temperature diagram for the nearest 36/48 hours.
2. Weather forecast for the nearest 36/48 hours, 10 days and 10 nights.
3. Changing of Moon Phases for nearest 10 nights.
4. Detailed Text forecast for nearest 10 days.
5. Navigation Display which show coordinates of "Home" and "Current" locations. As well as time difference and distance between these two points on the World Map.
6. A special display which show animated Images like Doppler Radar (for US, Canada and Greenland), Satellite, Weather forecast, Cloudy, Precipitation, High/Low Temperature etc...
And many, many other...
This is exactly my approach to gadget development - many different functions in one complex gadget instead of many simple functions in a few simple gadgets.
- With DX, starting a project is one thing, finishing it can be a vexing process. What drives you to create the amazing (and complex) skins we've seen from you over the years?
Just my Great Love of DesktopX and widgets/gadgets development. Now this is my Main and Lovely Hobby. Why download something from Wincustomize if I can make the same things but much better? And then upload them to the WC for other people.
-On average, how long does it take to complete a project? Which of your skins took the longest to make?
Hmmm... It took from 1 week to many, many days, weeks, months and even years... For example, I've worked on SD Desktop more than 1 year. As well as I continue my work on WeatherLab which was created about 3 years ago! As you can see, there are very different values...
-Which of your creations are you most proud of and why?
There are a few things:
1. SD Desktop - because I was able to combine the functions of more than 10 complex gadgets in it.
2. WetherLab - because this is the best and most powerfull Weather Informer around.
3. Rainbow Clock - because this is the first (and seems the last) gadget totally integrated with Stardock WindowBlinds.
- Willistuder is curious about the new desktop you're working on (mentioned in the description of Chronos.) Can you tell us about that? Will it be like SD Desktop?
I had a grandiose plan to create the next generation of SD Desktop for Vista/Windows 7 called "Chronos". It would be (or precisely - "may be") the incredible and complex tool for desktop! But I've stopped this project on the same reason as "skinnable" gadgets, sadly, but I don't see a sense to continue this "game" right now. May be later?
-RedneckDude wants to know if you'll be making more widgets or objects in future, so we can learn from the scripts. I know you've mentioned before that you're more inclined to do gadgets in future. Would you like to share how you came to that decision?
The problem is that only people who have DesktopX installed can use "widgets". But the "gadget" can be run on any computers with Windows. So I think that gadgets are more universal and useful than widgets. I can make widgets with Script Examples in future. But all of the finished projects will be saved as a gadgets only. Besides I paid money for DesktopX Professional which first of all is designed for creation of standalone gadgets.
- In the April edition of ILDX, I opinied on the market for DesktopX and what I thought could be done to expand DX's user base. What are your thoughts on the future of widget-making and DesktopX? What areas need improvement?
This is very complex question for me. I'm not an expert in the marketing or software development. So I can't give any advices for a professionals that I'm sure are working for Stardock. However I think that widgets have no future if we do not see a new and really "revolutionary" version of DesktopX in the nearest half of a year. Otherwise DesktopX may die like ObjectBar...
-Finally, why do you love DesktopX?
Because it helped me to find a new Great Hobby and learn VBScript. A little time and I'll be a programmer! May be it will be even my next job?
So big thanks to Stardock for this Great Software. And I hope that it will be alive at least in the next 10 years that will give me (and no doubt - all of us) much more pleasure...
Thank you, Vad_M, for your time, and for all the amazing skins you’ve shared with the community.
Be sure to check out his gallery here -- LINK
Got questions you'd like to ask a fellow DXer? A nominee for DX community spotlight? Content suggestions? Drop me a PM or EMAIL.
Until next month, happy DXing!