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If you've been looking for a way to create your own standalone, sidebar, or desktop gadgets linking to files, programs, or songs and movies, Ashampoo's Gadge It ($15, ten-day free trial) has you covered.
At $15, Gadge It is obviously not going to be a full programming or development system, such as Microsoft's Visual series, that allows you to create completely free-form gadgets. What it does do is create small applets that can launch a program, launch your email program to send an email to a specific person, play a music file, open a URL, open a folder, or quit the applet. These applets may be in the form of a Windows Vista sidebar gadget, Window 7 desktop gadget, a standalone gadget for XP, Vista, or 7 (requires Microsoft .NET 4.0), a simple menu that runs as an application, or an HTML page that performs actions inside a browser.
The Ashampoo Gadge It editor is much like any WYSIWIG graphics editor. You choose from templates, can create multi-page gadgets, change the background, add/remove/delete buttons, etc. and define the actions invoked by the buttons. The program is very easy to use--you can literally create a gadget in five minutes.
The big question is whether you actually need your own gadgets. Windows covers every task they can duplicate with menus, shortcuts, etc., just not as gadgets. If you simply must have a desktop gadget rather than a shortcut to send an email, go for it. It's your fifteen bucks.