A web dev's first Win32 project - bastardizing Google's IE toolbar

I know enough about writing software to know that for my latest project, I don't know enough about writing software to do it myself.  I mentioned a few days ago how I was mulling over creating an IE toolbar that provided links to my site and tapped my site's search XML web service.  Well, I started thinking some more about what I'd like to see and intergration with my site's existing services and the feature set took shape, grew outward, and became more complex (see below for spec).  And sadly, this is way more for dumbass me to handle, if it's going to be of the right quality and capacity for expansion to ship as a product for my site's users.  From what I've gathered from people way more talented than I, this isn't exactly starting swimming lessons at the shallow end of the pool.

Julia Lerman, who in my humble opinion, is one of the true goddesses on the Web, gave me some pointers.  I initially and naively asked her about the environmental considerations involving WinForms on building such a product, and she indicated that since the toolbar is embedded within IE, it's probably more to do with Win32 API programming (sorry, I'm a web dev with only sparse WinForms knowledge, so this is all Greek to me).  And as soon as the word "Win32 API" came into the picture my mental gearshift immediately was thrown into reverse.  I'm in unfamiliar territory here, so I'll defer to someone else's expertise.  I also considered the fact that this might be better suited as an app that runs resident in the Windows TaskBar or <GASP!> an Active Desktop item (there's a term I haven't uttered in a few years).

Fortunately, I've gotten a positive amount of reaction from my original post, and many people, both desktop and web devs, indicated they'd like to work on the project, many of whom just because they'd like to test themselves to see if they can pull this off.  They also indicated that this might be a chance to collaborate and build something generic, which we can customize for our respective sites and then release as a free community tool.  Sweet! 

I did enjoy writing out the first draft of the application's specification:

Specifications for KUAM.COM IE toolbar


We're also going to be implementing lots of site personalization with the release of ASP.NET 2.0, so future releases will have the ability to modify user profile settings.


v      Controls layout (L-to-R)

Ø       DropDownList

§        "History"

·        Displays collection of 10 last search items used

§        "Clear Search History"

·        Removes items from History collection

§        "KUAM Links"

·        "KUAM Search"

·        "Daily E-mail Headlines"

·        "Send the news team a tip!"

·        "Contact KUAM"

Ø       TextBox

§        Allows user to enter search querytext

Ø       Buttons

§        "Search!"

·        Invokes web service based on text in TextBox

§        "Visit KUAM.COM"

·        Launches KUAM.COM homepage

§        "KUAM-TV8 Listings"

§        "KUAM-TV11 Listings"

Ø       Text Scroller Control

§        Displays vertically-scrolling headlines via RSS feed

Ø       DropDownList (displays hierarchical links where indicated)

§        Hyperlinks to various URLs within KUAM.COM

·        "Interact with KUAM"

¨       Familiar Faces

Ø       Browse our image gallery

Ø       Submit your own pictures

¨       KUAM Blogs

¨       Week-in-Review

·        "Streaming Media"

¨       Listen to i94-FM Live

¨       KUAM News Streaming Video Archives

Ø       Nightly Newscasts

Ø       Segments, Stories and Specials

·        "Mobile & Wireless News"

¨       News for WAP Phones

¨       News Alerts for SMS

¨       News for PDAs

v      Additional Features:

Ø       Event-driven UI aesthetic behavior when new data detected via RSS feed

§        New content added

·        Toolbar will flash BLUE or display a blue animated .GIF when daily news stories are added

§        Breaking news

·        Toolbar will flash RED or display a red animated .GIF when breaking news is added

If anyone has any pointers/refinement on how to pull this off, I'd appreciate it.  If you'd like a full copy of the spec with all the URLs, mailtos and WSDLs, write me at jason@kuam.com and I'll send you the .DOC.


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