Recently I was introduced to an interesting free Windows 7 / Vista desktop gadget for keeping track of information stored in SharePoint lists. The gadget by datapolis, when in it’s compact form, displays the total number of items, unread items and new items in the lists that you have configured the gadget to watch. If you switch the gadget to the larger view you can see specific details related to each list you are watching and you can also drill down and see the actual data in the lists.
Configuring the gadget is very simple. After adding the gadget to the desktop it will be displayed in a compact mode. Clicking on the expand option (the arrow icon that points to the upper right) will display the larger view of the gadget. If this is the first time using the gadget you will be required to enter in a registration key. You can request a free registration key by using the link located immediately under the registration key text box.
After entering in the registration key you will be presented with a summary screen with 8 rectangles where you can define the SharePoint lists to watch.
To define a list to watch, click on the add button next to one of the empty rectangles and then fill in the 3 required fields. The tab name is any identifying name you wish to associate with the list. The view address is the URL to the view of the list that you wish to monitor. The authentication mode indicates how the gadget passes security credentials to SharePoint. The gadget supports Integrated, Forms and Windows based authentication. Once you have entered in the required information click on save to add the list to the gadget.
Once a list has been defined within the gadget you should immediately see the all, unread and new details for the list in the summary view.
Clicking on one of the defined lists will show the contents of that list right in the gadget. If you click on a list item your default browser will open directly to the view form for that item.
When you switch the gadgets view to the compact mode it will display a total count of all list items, all unread items and all new items.
I can see many uses for this desktop gadget. I have had several clients that use custom SharePoint lists for managing work requests and other data where they need to keep on top of the changes immediately. This gadget would allow them to quickly see the new items that have been added without relying on email alerts or manually checking the site. The gadget is simple to configure and easy to use. Overall I think it is a great addition to the toolbox for any SharePoint user or administrator.
You can download your own copy of this gadget by visiting the datapolis web site.