Appearance of Desktop sidebar is described in very simple xml file. Such file called skin should be placed in skins subdirectory of Desktop Sidebar installation directory. It can be placed in subdirectory of this directory but in such case it has to have the same name as its subdirectory. Only one level of subdirectories is supported.

Sample directory tree:

C:\Program Files\Desktop Sidebar\skins <-- skins directory
 - silver.xml <-- silver skin file
 - blue\ <-- directory of blue skin
      - blue.xml <-- blue skin file

General structure of skin file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<skin author="Ala" >
... item definitions ...

Root element of xml can have author attribute which specify who should be displayed in Desktop Sidebar Options dialog as a skin author.

Skin file consists of items definitions. Skin item is single graphical element used to display some element in sidebar user interface. For instance there is background item which determines how background of sidebar will look like.

Skin item can define three appearances of element: standard, hover which is used when user rests mouse pointer over element and pressed which is used when user press mouse button. Hover and pressed appearance are optional but skin has to have standard appearance. It is possible to inherit item attributes from another item and define only changed attributes.

<item name="caption" inherit="panel" height="20" >
      <appearance name="standard"  <-- standard appearance
      <appearance name="hover" <-- hover appearance

This is definition of caption item which is used by Sidebar to display caption of panel. Please note that it inherits remaining attributes from panel item.

Graphical attributes of appearance should be specified inside appearances definition. Following attributes could be specified:

Skins element can have additional attributes used by Desktop Sidebar. For instance caption element in example bellow has height attribute which is interpreted as height of caption by Desktop Sidebar.

Skin should define many elements. Please use blue skin included in Desktop Sidebar installation as reference. Names of elements are descriptive so a few experiments allows to understand which part of Desktop Sidebar is drawn with using of a given element.

To start developing of a new skin copy blue subdirectory of skins directory, change name of directory and skin file to a new name and introduce changes to new skin file. Desktop Sidebar have to be restarted to add a new skin to combobox in Options dialog but then your skin is reloaded after change of selected skin in Options dialog so there is no need to restart Desktop Sidebar during skin development.