Windows Home Server Developer Guidelines

by Alex Kuretz on September 28, 2008 · 4 comments

in News

One of the things I’d like to do with this blog is provide some insight and ideas on developing Add-Ins for Windows Home Server. I’ve developed and released three Add-Ins now, and even though I don’t consider myself a great developer I do think they’ve turned out pretty well and have largely gotten a lot of positive feedback.

Microsoft recently updated a number of the WHS Technical Briefs, including a new Developer Guidelines document. I read through it with interest, as I’ve found the SDK to be lacking in details, especially for developers that may not be familiar with workings of Windows Home Server. I ended up comparing the three Add-Ins I’ve developed to the guidelines recommended in the document.

What I came up with is this:
* Remote Notification fits the Developer Guidelines perfectly. It only uses a Settings tab for configuration, and all long-running processing is running in a Service. The only real issue is that the Console hangs briefly while sending the Sample notifications, and if that fails I spit out an ugly stack trace instead of a helpful error message.
* MSS Fan Control also fits the Developer Guidelines very well. There is no long-running processing so no need for a Service, all the settings are contained within the Settings tab, and the installer meets the specification of being silent with no user interaction.
* WHS BDBB doesn’t fit so well. The backup of files is performed by a thread running in the context of the WHS Console, so if the Console were to hang or be killed, the backup would abort. Ideally I would have a Service that runs when prompted through the Console. Also, since there are no real configuration options for BDBB, it’s arguable about whether its GUI should be in a main Console Tab or on the Settings Tab. I think I’m ok in that respect, as the GUI is so simple that it is easily contained on the Settings Tab.

I think the Developer Guidelines document is a good additional resource to the WHS SDK. I’d like to see more examples provided in the SDK, and there are some obvious missing steps in the Programming Tutorial that I think could really slow new developers down. I’ve provided this feedback to MS via Connect, be sure to do the same when you’ve got something you want to share with the WHS team.

What topics would you find interesting to hear about with regards to developing WHS Add-Ins? Are there any specific questions about my Add-Ins, suggestions for new Add-Ins you’d like to see, or anything else? If so, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

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I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


Cougar October 4, 2008 at 4:22 am

Not being an active developer, I’m still intrigued by what you do throwing one together etc. Maybe a simple add-in 101 so you can highlight what you do, maybe encourage some others to try?

TxDot October 5, 2008 at 5:49 pm

You can get some information about Add-In development here:

TxDot October 5, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Hmm, the anchor tag didn’t work. Here’s the link I was trying to put in my previous post.

Cougar October 6, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Thanks, thats useful but I was trying to get Alex to stop being lazy and write another Add-In… but blog whilst he was doing it!

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