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Windows 7: The Windows Platform, Silverlight 4, and Facebook


19 Nov 2009   #1

 
The Windows Platform, Silverlight 4, and Facebook

Quote:
Last week, we announced the availability of the Facebook SDK for .NET developers. The SDK supports coding for both Silverlight and the Windows Platform (WPF, etc.). Yesterday, Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's .NET Developer Platform, took the stage for his part of the Day 2 Keynote at PDC09 where he announced Silverlight 4.

During the keynote, Scott demonstrated an out-of-browser Silverlight 4 application called SilverFace. SilverFace was developed using the Facebook SDK we announced last week.



SilverFace lets you do all kinds of things on Facebook directly from your Windows desktop such as update your status, upload photos, view friend’s photos and videos, and much more. This application is meant to serve as a proof point for the capabilities of Silverlight 4 in combination with the Facebook SDK and is not an actual product. You can think of this as more of a “technology showcase” and a demo of what the technology can do.

For those of you wanting to try out physical code (and is pretty cool), I’ve got something just for you.

Today, we’re making available an application for Windows 7 called Fishbowl for Facebook. This application is a sample application created by UXLabs@Microsoft that showcases the Windows Platform (when I say Windows Platform = .NET Platform) and takes advantage of key Windows 7 features.

Download: Fishbowl for Facebook Preview



Fishbowl for Facebook lets you quickly post a Status Update to Facebook, watch your Facebook News Feed, post comments, browse your friends and their photos and upload photos directly from their Windows 7 desktop. Let me take you through a few key areas of the app. I’ll start with the Windows 7 integration.

When running, Fishbowl for Facebook takes advantage of new Windows 7 features such Taskbar Previews and Jump Lists.

For example, when moving your mouse over the Fishbowl for Facebook icon on your Windows Taskbar, you get a Taskbar Preview. This allows you to quickly navigate quickly between Home (you’re News Feed), your friends list, your profile, and photos. You can also quickly go to Facebook’s homepage too.





If you right-click on the Fishbowl for Facebook, you get a Jump List that lets you see your most recent notifications. It also lets you switch to “mini-mode”.

You can upload photos to Facebook using Fishbowl for Facebook – simply by drag-and-drop!



Just put a title in, choose the album you want to add the photo to (or create a new album), and hit upload! Here I am dragging a panoramic photo I created in Windows Live Photo Gallery from my visit in September to the U.S.S. Hornet in Oakland, CA.



See the red lines under the “U.S.S.” and “SFO” text? Yeah, that’s spell check. Fishbowl for Facebook comes with spell check to help ensure you don’t accidently spell important words wrong that your friends can make fun of you for the rest of your life with. Trust me, it happens ;-)

While browsing a photo album, you can view the album in a slideshow, save photos, print photos, and zoom in and out.

And Fishbowl for Facebook supports Windows Touch too.

Ok, one last thing – when browsing your friends in Fishbowl for Facebook, you are given several ways of sorting through your friends. You can sort by name (display name or family), last Status Update, Upcoming Birthdays, or Interest Level. And you can also adjust Interest Level of individual friends by simply clicking on a friend and viewing their profile. Interest Levels let you control how much of that friend’s stuff hits your News Feed. If you have an annoying friend, just turn the Interest Level way down.

There are a lot of neat experiences you can have with Fishbowl for Facebook so give the app a spin yourself! Remember, you can download it here.

Fishbowl for Facebook will run on Windows XP and Windows Vista but requires .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 to be installed (this is not needed if you’re on Windows 7 as it’s built in). For the best experience with Fishbowl for Facebook, it is recommended you use Windows 7 to take advantage of all its features. Fishbowl for Facebook with automatically update when updates are available as well so when we make updated available, you’ll get them! But please note that Fishbowl for Facebook is meant as a sample application showing what developers can do with the Windows Platform and the Facebook SDK. This is NOT an officially supported product.

Stay tuned, Yochay from the Windows 7 for Developers Blog will be posting some behind-the-scenes geeky developer stuff shortly. For you developers out there, this will be a must-read. I can’t wait to see more applications like this for the Windows Platform.


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19 Nov 2009   #2

 
Fishbowl for Facebook Using the Windows 7 Taskbar for E

Quote:
During Wednesday’s keynote, Brian Golgarb resented SilverFace, a Silverlight client application for Facebook. Beyond its amazing looks, SilverFace provides a full and complete desktop client application for Windows (and Mac). SilverFace is built on top of Silverlight 4 – also announced during the keynote. However, if you want a cool Facebook client application to work on from your Windows desktop today, your only real option is going with Fishbowl for Facebook Preview.

In today's world, the client’s experience is more important than ever before. Your application doesn’t just have to be fun and interesting; it has to be good looking, polished, and functional, providing a “natural” user experience that just works. As a developer, you need to push the envelope and use any available technical tool that the OS provides or any other available means (if installed on mobile devices) to provide a superior user experience, or users will switch to the next guy. In such a competitive scenario, using the Windows 7 Taskbar to shave a few seconds from day-to-day tasks looks like a very obvious choice.

The SilverFace and Fishbowl applications each provide a great UX and enhance user productivity. Scott Guthrie also announced the Facebook SDK for managed code applications that combines the latest in Web and Client platform innovations with leading Social technologies (services) to help developers plug into Facebook. But, beside the new Facebook SDK and beside the great looks, the Fishbowl application is a great WPF (3.5) example that demonstrates how to write applications that produce amazing experiences on Windows 7.

As a WPF application, Fishbowl runs on multiple Windows versions, including Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, and it integrates with the Windows 7 Taskbar and Multitouch. One of the main ideas behind the Taskbar is to provide users with quick and easy access to their content and help them accomplish tasks and navigate between windows easier and with more confidence. For example, JumpList provides a great tool for surfacing common work items and tasks. If you have a task that you perform once or twice a day, taking two or three clicks to perform the task is not that bad. However, if you have a task that you perform 10, 20, or even 30 more times, using JumpList tasks or items in the recent category list goes a long way. Facebook users often check their wall, write notifications and messages, view friends' pictures, and so on. Therefore, in some scenarios, the Taskbar JumpList tasks, icon notification, thumbnail buttons, and other functionality become major tools in the application.

Fishbowl uses the taskbar to provide a quick, easy, and seamless integration with Facebook functionality directly from your Taskbar. Let’s review some of the user functionality before jumping into code behind.

The Fishbowl taskbar offers a few tasks even before you start your application. You can go to Facebook.com, or you can actually “jump” directly and see your wall, friend's picture, and more, as the following image shows.
One of the amazing things in Fishbowl for Facebook is that it changes it functionality between the different modes of the application. Being able to use the taskbar differently for different scenarios provides an amazing user experience in heavily used application like Fishbowl.

When Fishbowl runs in normal mode, the Taskbar JumpList reflects items and tasks that you can actually perform in the context of a running application, like viewing the last few notifications and messages that you received without opening the application, as shown by the following image.

If you hover with the mouse above the Fishbowl control, you see the thumbnail preview provided by Windows 7 taskbar. However, Fishbowl uses the thumbnail button again allowing you to both view a preview of the application and act immediately upon the thumbnail preview as shown in the following image. If you hover with the mouse above the Fishbowl control, you see the thumbnail preview provided by Windows 7 taskbar. However, Fishbowl uses the thumbnail button again allowing you to both view a preview of the application and act immediately upon the thumbnail preview as shown in the following image.



(And thank you Raman for writing so many PDC tweets J)

Fishbowl also has a mini-mode operation mode. This mode shows just one message in a small window. As you can see in the following image, a small arrow allows you to switch between messages. When you hover over Fishbowl taskbar icon, you can see the preview but you can also control the message, again using the taskbar thumbnail preview.

 

Besides great Taskbar integration, Fishbowl offers a great Multitouch experience, allowing you to scroll between messages using your finger to touch the touch screen. It is a little hard to illustrate Multitouch with screen capture so you will have to trust me on this one.

We've covered most of the Fishbowl features unique to Windows 7, and in the next post I will dive into the API that enabled these Taskbar and Multitouch features. If you are interested, you can download the source code for Fishbowl.


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 The Windows Platform, Silverlight 4, and Facebook




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