So our story so far - in the beginning your desktop only supported little static pictures called icons. Your computer could also load programs but they are contained inside a "window" that is separate from your desktop.
The idea DesktopX postulated in 1999 was to have something new on your desktop. Something more than an icon but not a traditional program. And today, widgets are slowly becoming very popular and DesktopX is no longer the only provider of extradesktop level content. You've got Konfabulator and you've got Kapsules and you've got Samurize and a few others that veer a bit further away from the widget concept but still fill the basic premise.
But these widget enablers all suffer a common problem - they have trouble creating things that the developers of the original program didn't think of.
That's because widgets are innovative for TWO reasons: The first is the aforementioned fact that they're a new type of desktop content (i.e. mini-applications that are smaller than a typical program that lives on your desktop. The second is that widgets are supposed to be able a lot easier to create than regular programs.
The net result is pretty obvious though many people may not understand why - widgets have become (unfortunately) associated with pretty looking but not necessarily useful desktop jewelry. Clocks, calendars, and data retrieved from the net (RSS readers, weather info, stock tickers, etc.).
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with clocks and and web-based headline readers and the like. But eventually, when the hype about widgets starts to die down and people start to look hard at this stuff, if that's all they do, widgets will end up in the dust-bin right along with "Push" technology and "Thin" PCs.
So what can be done about this? The answer in DesktopX 3 comes in the form of scriptable plugins.
Plugins are no joke to make. They require real coding (C++ or whatever). They're not for casual users to crank out. But the DesktopX 3 plugin format is open so that anyone who knows how to program can create them.
These plugins can then add new methods to DesktopX 3 that we haven't thought of that are then accessible from scripts. When an object uses a plugin, it becomes part of the object so when you send it over to another user, the needed plugins are created. So there's no need for users to have to run around downloading third party plugins to make sure their widgets work.
So if there is some feature or API you feel DesktopX is missing, if you know how to code, you can write a plugin and add new APIs to DesktopX itself and it's totally seamless in the scripting.
For example, while DesktopX 2 contains a mail checking plugin, you can't access it from script. So it's pretty limited.
|Mail.CheckMail( "1", sLogin, sPass, sServer, 0);|
The API, of course, would have to be documented by the author (for instance, the "1", and 0 aren't germane to our example but would be part of the plugin's docs).
The Mail class also includes its own mail event (and DesktopX's built in event explorer will automatically display events that the plugins add).
In this example (using VBScript this time) you then have:
If mails Then
strailing = ""
If mails = 1 Then strailing = "mail awaiting!" Else strailing = "multiple email waiting!"
desktopx.Object("mail_info").text = "You've got " & mails & " new " & strailing
desktopx.Object("mail_info").text = "You've got no new email"
This is obviously a simple example. But what you see here is that DesktopX gains a new object class called "Mail" along with its corresponding methods to control it. In addition, its own event is defined and can be used as well. And all this created without the developer of the original program (DesktopX) being involved.
This is important in particular to DesktopX 3 Pro gadget makers who might want to make something pretty sophisticated to sell or distribute.
DesktopX 3 is scheduled to be released this March. Its home page is www.desktopx.net. The standard edition of DesktopX 3 will be included as part of Object Desktop, Stardock's suite of desktop enhancement utilities (www.objectdesktop.com).