[WARNING! This is an archived post and as such there may be things broken/missing here.. you have been warned.]
I have been playing with desktop GUI widgets the last week or so (mainly because of a Sahil post -- http://codebetter.com/blogs/sahil.malik/archive/2005/08/25/131224.aspx). I have Konfabulator up and running and besides the memory footprint it seems to be pretty cool. This caused me to wonder if there were other types of GUI widgets. I found a few...
- DesktopX (commercial)
- AVE Desktop
- Konfabulator (of course)
After playing with all of them, I can easily tell you my thoughts.
Samurize seems to be more than just a widget kit; So much so that I can't figure out what to do with it or where the widgets are (so I didn't do much with it beyond download and install it)
I've played with this in the past. Nice product if you want to pay money for this type of thing (I don't... I want to have a couple widgets on my screen and I want to maybe develop a couple widgets)
This is a pretty cool product. Basically it takes the widgets for StarDock's (the creator of DesktopX) free ObjectBar product and lets you take them off the bar and throw them onto the screen. Very cool, but the ones I tried were very big (there's probably a way to tweak that); beyond that I just wasn't satisfied with the selection. There are a couple things I want to have and could really find what I wanted.
Fabulous! That's what I think! Konfabulator is the product that way cool when it comes to pure functionality. They have a large number of desktop widgets. My only major complaint is that each widget requires a separate instance of Konfabulator. This can get expensive from a memory perspective.
A while ago I read about Kapsules and tried to use an earlier version. Quite frankly it was a memory pig. It seems to be less of one now. There is a single instance of Kapsules running in memory (as far as I have seen), and while the instance can eat a decent amount of memory, the footprint is not nearly as great as the one from all the Konfabulator instances. It is an awful lot like Konfabulator, but it does not have as many widgets defined. It also requires having the Windows Scripting host (Win XP ships with it) and .Net Framework installed (if you read this blog you probably don't have a problem with that).
Konfabulator vs Kapsules for creation
I actually started researching both engines to see about creating my own widget. Most of the widgets that I found for Konfabulator were created in a scripting language (VB Script, JScript, PerlScript, etc.) There are a few widgets on the confabulator site that mention that they no longer require the .Net Framework which implies that you can use .Net to build a widget, but most of what I found refers to building widgets with a scripting language.
Kapsules widgets can be built in a scripting language or in a .Net Framework language (for instance you can create widgets using VB.Net). The API seems to be well thought out (for instance you can set up global keyboard hooks that trigger events in your widget)
So I would love to follow all this up with a "Here's where you can get Kapsules!" Unfortunately, the folks at Carbon 6 (http://carbon.shellscape.org/) makers of Kapsules (http://kapsules.shellscape.org) want us all to know about there is a new release 0.99... and they have pretty much shut down their site. There are a few places you can get to if you use google or read here (note: this may not work too far in the future)
Kapsules Development Online Documentation - http://kapsules.shellscape.org/dev/
Kapsules Widgets Forge - http://kapsules.shellscape.org/forge.aspx
Kapsules FAQ/User Docs WIKI - http://kapsules.shellscape.org/wiki/ow.asp?FrontPage
Kapsules Support Page - http://kapsules.shellscape.org/support.aspx
So why so many links, Jay? Because I want to remember them all.
[UPDATE: I just got a mail message from Andrew over at Carbon6 with this explanation on why they have shutdown the downloads -
The new version that we're preparing the site for is above and beyond the current one available, and I saw no reason why I should let people continue to use an inferior build.
I know I was a little rude in the end of this post, and I apologize, but I was just frustrated that I had downloaded and installed this on one of my machines at work and couldn't get it installed on my other box]
[UPDATE2: Kapsules 0.99 is now live. I don't know what has changed, but I have installed it on most of my machines. I really like it. head to http://www.kwidgets.com/ to get it]