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Overview

As we previously established, widgets are DesktopX objects that were combined together to create some sort of “mini-application” and then exported as an .EXE that uses the DesktopX run-time DLLs installed on your computer to run.

When you choose “Load Widget”, the Widget Manager is run. You don’t really need this program to run widgets, it’s just there to make it easy to load and manage widgets. When you actually do choose to run a widget, your widget directory is opened.

Widgets

DesktopX includes some very good widgets with it, namely the “Silica” series of widgets.

These widgets do things such as display a calendar, tell you how much disk space is available, allow you to load a picture onto your desktop, display the current stock values, give you a “To-Do” list and much more.

You can interact with widgets by Right-Clicking on them and going to its properties dialog.

Loading a Widget 

Load Widgets 

To load a Widget from the DesktopX Welcome menu, click on the "Load Widgets" button and the following dialog box will open called the "Widget Manager".  You can do the following: Load Widgets, Download more Widgets, Options, Configure a Widget, Unload a widget from memory, Show All / Hide All, and Minimize All / Unload All. To load a widget, click the Load Widgets button, then use the Explorer window that opens to double-click on the desired widget.  When you are finished selecting widgets, click on X.

Load Widgets 

For instance, if you selected the "Fishy.exe" widget, you will see a colorful fish swim across your desktop.  This is referred to as "eye candy", since it is pretty & fun to watch, but does not do anything practical.  There are lots of widgets that do helpful tasks.

Something is fishy... 

You can move the fish around by left clicking on it, then dragging & dropping it where you want it and it will continue to swim.  You may see it swim over (or under) an open application window (i.e. Windows Explorer).  If it is swimming on top (in front) of the window (see below) and you click on the window, the fish will move behind it.  This is because the "Z-order" is set to "Normal" in the widgets properties. 

Fishy Widget swimming on top of Explorer window. 

What is Z-order?

Think of your Windows desktop as having layers, or levels like in a building, with the higher levels in front (or on top) of other things in the background (on the ground level).  Background wallpaper is the first floor / ground level (or "Desktop level").  Windows and other objects on the second floor block (or overlay) other windows/objects underneath (behind) it.  Using this stacking ability. windows & objects can be placed in the background (ground level) or foreground (top floor) along a Z-axis, even though your desktop is really 2D (two dimensional).  (Additional Information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z-order.)

With programs (or widgets in this case) that allow us to change the Z-order, we can specify if a widget is at: Desktop level (ground level), Normal or Always on top (top floor).

 Z-order  Think of as  What it means
Always on top  Foreground  This always* keeps the widget in front of other windows, desktop icons, etc..  Even if you click on an application window (make it active), the widget will remain in front (above) that window. 
(* = There are few exceptions when something else will be in front of the widget.  Example: Windows Vista shutdown dialog box.)
Normal level  Varies Normally, if you have an application window open (i.e. Windows Explorer), the widget will be in the foreground (visible) until you click on the window to make it active (called 'giving it focus'), then the widget will be moved to the background, behind the window.  If you moved the window so you could see the widget & clicked on it, then (in the case of our moving fish) it would swim in front of the window, until you clicked on the window again.
Desktop level  Background  Selecting this places the widget behind any open windows, dialog boxes & other objects.  Even if you click on the widget (e.g. fish), it will not swim in front of any open windows.  Widgets will remain in front of (above) desktop icons. 

Changing Widget Properties

You can change the Z-order and other properties by right-clicking on a widget.  A small menu opens with these options for the widget: Hide (from view), Close (widget), About (info. about the widget) and Properties. 

(To unhide a hidden widget, right-click on the "DesktopX Widget" icon in the System Tray & select "Show All" (hidden widgets).  Or select "Open Widget Manager" from the menu, select the widget to unhide & either double-click on the widget (under "Loaded Widgets") or click Show All.)

Widget Properties 

Selecting "Properties" opens a dialog box with several options on two tabs: Appearance and General Settings.  You can also change the properties by selecting the widget Each widget may have different default settings.


Widget Properties

General Settings
 

Properties Quick Reference 

 Action   What it does
 Appearance tab   
Z-order  Change the position of the widget from:
Always on top - always in front of other open application windows, etc..
Normal level - stays in front of open application windows, etc., unless the window is clicked on (giving it focus), in which case the widget will be sent to the background (behind open window).
Desktop level - keeps the widget in the background, behind open window(s) & other objects (i.e. dialog boxes, message boxes, ...).
Opacity  Changes the transparency of the widget as you move the slider Slider.
Far left: Totally transparent (see through), non-opaque.
Far right: Totally opaque (can not see through). 
Shadow checkbox Checked, gives the widget a shadow.
Unchecked, no shadow.
Clicking Configure gives you options to change the shadow from its default.
Configure Allows you to change the shadow settings of the widget, then click Close or X to save changes.  (Click Close then Cancel to abort changes.)
"Sharpness" - far left (more sharp), far right (fuzzy).
"Darkness" - far left (lighter), far right (darker).
"X" - (X axis / horizontal) move the slider Slider to the far left to move the shadow to the far left & to the right, to move it to the right of the widget.
"Y" - (Y axis / vertical) move the slider Slider to the bottom to move the shadow lower than the widget or up the scale to move the shadow above the widget.
"Override custom settings where already defined" - if you find as you make changes, nothing happens, check this box.  Then you should see changes made to the widget as you move the sliders.  This option replaces the widgets default settings with your desired changes to the shadow.

Note: You must check the box for "Shadow",
otherwise the widgets shadow will not change.
 
Shadow Settings 
Hue Shift (From: To:)  Changes the hue (tint) of the color of the widget.  The top rainbow bar (From:) are the default colors, while the bottom bar (To:) are the new hues as you move the next to "Hue Shift".
Hue Shift 
Accessibility  Places an icon for this widget in the Taskbar (bottom of desktop), Systray (System Tray / by default, lower right corner next to clock) or None (no icon).  Having an icon available gives you easy access to changing the properties, hiding, closing, etc. of the widget.  Otherwise, you have to open DesktopX Welcome, then "Load Widgets" to view / change "Loaded Widgets".
 
Widget on Taskbar
Silica Widget icon placed on Taskbar. 
 
Widget icons in System Tray
Run automatically when Windows starts  Checked, automatically starts this widget when Windows starts up. 
Unchecked, widget only runs when you start it manually through DesktopX, Windows Explorer, etc..  The next time Windows starts, widget will not run.
 General Settings tab   
On top / on bottom hotkey  Hot keys are special key(s) on your keyboard assigned a certain task (e.g. Show (unhide) a hidden widget).  You can change what key is used, to avoid potential conflict with the same key used by another program.  These two options are "toggles", press once to do something, then press again to do the opposite.
F9 - (default) Press to bring the widget to the top level (foreground), press again to send to the bottom (background / desktop level).
Show / hide hotkey  F10 - (default) Press to show (unhide) a hidden widget, press again to hide. 

Download More Widgets

Clicking Download will open & display the WinCustomize.com website in your web browser.  It will automatically display the "DesktopX Widgets" web page.  You can browse over 1,000 free widgets for use with DesktopX.

Widget Options

Clicking the Options button opens a dialog with several choices to control how all widgets are controlled.

DesktopX Widget Options 

Quick Reference 

 Action  What it does
On top /
on bottom hotkey 
This works the same as the Properties for an individual widget, except this will control all widgets currently running.  So you can bright all running widgets to the top (foreground) by pressing F9 or send them to the background
(desktop level).
F9 - (default) Press to bring all running widgets to the top level (foreground), press again to send to the bottom (background / desktop level).
Show / hide hotkey  F10 - (default) Press to show (unhide) all hidden widget(s),
press again to hide.
Language  Change default language of English to a different one in the
pull-down menu.
View Widgets Cache Displays list of widgets in temporary folder on your hard-drive.  This is used for faster access to widgets.  This allows you to delete an individual widget's folder, if you want to remove it from the cache.  Deleting from cache will delete preferences as well.  Click X to close Explorer window.
Clear Widgets Cache Removes all running widgets from the cache, including any changes in properties.  When prompted, click Yes (remove all).
(Click No or X to abort.)

 

Other Options 

 Action  What it does
Configure Clicking on a widget under "Loaded Widgets", then clicking the Configure button will open the "Properties" dialog as previously described. 
(Please refer to Changing Widget Properties on this page). 
Note:  If the Widget Manager is centered on the screen, when you click Configure the Properties dialog will appear behind the Widget Manager.  So you will need to move the Widget Manager to see it.
Unload Selecting a widget under "Loaded Widgets", then clicking the Unload
button will remove the widget (stop it from running).
Show All Displays all hidden or previously obstructed
(sent to desktop / background) running widgets. 
Hide All Hides all running widgets.  These remain running, until you
unhide them (Show / Show All). 
Minimize All This minimizes all running widgets.
Unload All Unloads (removes) all running widgets.  There is no confirmation, once you
click this all widgets are stopped. 
Close Closes the "Load Widget" dialog box.  

Widget Manager in System Tray

When you click the Load Widgets button on the DesktopX Welcome screen, the Widget Manager dialog opens & DesktopX puts an icon in the System Tray (SysTray) next to the clock.  (By default, the System Tray is located in the lower, right-hand corner of your monitor.  If you changed the location of your Task Bar, the System Tray/Clock will be in a different corner of the screen.)

Accessing the Widget Manager in System Tray

After closing the Widget Manager, you can easily access many of the widget options by right-clicking on the DesktopX Widgets icon in the System Tray.


Widget Manager menu in System Tray.
 Right-click menu - with widgets running.

Widget menu - no running widgets.
 As seen if no widgets are running.
 

Most of the options on this menu are available in the Widget Manager dialog.  All of the options are detailed in the following table.  If there are no running widgets, the menu will have less options, since some only affect running widgets.

Quick Reference

 Action  What it does
Open Widget Manager.. Opens the Widget Manager dialog.
DesktopX Welcome.. Displays the DesktopX Welcome menu.
Load Widgets.. Opens an Explorer window of the installed widgets folder to select & run.
Recent Widgets Click to view a side menu of widgets you recently ran and/or are running:
If you select one that is not running, it will be started. 
If you select one that is running, it won't do anything.
Download more Widgets.. Displays the WinCustomize Widget Gallery in your web browser.
(Internet connectivity required.)
Fishy Lists the currently running widgets (e.g. Fishy).  Select one & it will appear if it was obstructed (i.e. blocked by a window) or hidden (i.e. can not be seen).
Show All Displays all hidden or previously obstructed
(sent to desktop / background) running widgets. 
Minimize All This minimizes all running widgets.
Hide All Hides all running widgets.  These remain running, until you
unhide them (Show / Show All). 
Options.. Opens the Widget Options dialog. (Refer to the Widget Options section.)
Unload Manager Unloads (closes) the Widget Manager from memory.
Unload Manager and Widgets Unloads (closes) the Widget Manager & all running widgets (visible & hidden).

Technical Notes

If you look in the Windows Task Manager, a widget will be listed under Processes as DXWidget.exe regardless of the name of the widget.  This is for widgets requiring DesktopX installed to run.  The reason a widget needs DesktopX installed, is that it includes DLL's (Dynamic Link Library) that contains programming the widget needs to run.  In the Standard version of DesktopX, using the DesktopX Builder, you can export a widget as a Windows Vista Sidebar widget.  If you have the DesktopX Professional version, you can export a widget as a stand-alone program, called a "Gadget".  A gadget does not need DesktopX installed to run, so you could create a widget, and convert it to a Gadget to share with your friends who do not have DesktopX.


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