360Voice.com Challenges Windows Sidebar Gadget


In my post introducing the Bungie Card Windows Sidebar Gadget I mentioned that I was making one more gadget that would be of somewhat more limited interest. Well, I’m finally finished with it: the 360Voice.com Challenges gadget! 360Voice.com is a fun little site that started off by giving your Xbox 360 a blog that would summarize each day’s gameplay. It’s since grown far beyond that, but the feature I like most is the “challenges”. Challenges are a little meta-game where you get some friends together and see who can win the most gamerscore via unlocking achievements over a set period of time.

I do a lot of these challenges, so I wanted to be able to keep track of their progress on my sidebar. The gadget shows you the time left in the challenge, the current standings, and the “live score”, which is the gamerscore each player has earned that day that hasn’t been counted in the official standings yet (gamerscore is sampled by 360Voice.com at midnight PST each day). Once the challenge is over, the winner is given a little crown and the gadget waits for the next challenge.

Fortunately, the 360Voice.com developers had the good sense to provide an XML web services API to their challenge data (and a lot of other stuff too!) so it’s not too hard to make cool things like this gadget that tie into their site. For this project I went ahead and included my favorite JavaScript library, jQuery, and a neat jQuery-based databinding library called chain.js. Using these made development a lot smoother - the old familiar Sidebar bugs and Internet Explorer weirdness was still there, but overall it wasn’t too bad. I’ve specifically designed it to be as light as possible on 360Voice.com’s API too, so hopefully it won’t impact their service.

I think this is the most attractive gadget I’ve made - it’s certainly the most data-rich. I’m really proud of how it came out. I hope everybody enjoys it, and if you haven’t ever done a 360Voice challenge, go start one! Also, if you like it, please rate it at Windows Live Gallery.

P.S.: While I was monkeying around with gadgets, I’ve made some minor changes to my Top Process gadget - the text-fade option is no longer there since it really didn’t add anything, and I may have fixed a couple minor bugs.

I'm Benjamin Hollis, a software developer in Seattle. Check out my website.