Fishbowl for Facebook Using the Windows 7 Taskbar for Extra Spice

Fishbowl for Facebook Using the Windows 7 Taskbar for Extra Spice

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During Wednesday’s keynote, Brian Goldfarb demoed an amazing Silverlight 4 client for Facebook. Beyond its amazing looks, this Silverlight 4 demo 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. If you want a cool Facebook client application to work on from your Windows desktop, you should take a look at the Fishbowl for Facebook Preview. Fishbowl is a great WPF application that you can install and enjoy as a user, and at the same time it is a great code sample for developers whom are looking to write WPF applications that use Windows 7 features.  If you are interested, you can download the source code for Fishbowl.

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.

Both Silverlight 4 demo 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
TaskbarBeforeStart

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.

TaskbarAfterStart 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.

thumbnail button

(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.

 minimode

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.

5 Comments
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  • thanks for source code download link

  • Thank you Jaime - you can install the application from here: http://www.fishbowlclient.com/

  • Jaime
    7 Posts

    Hello,

    a very interesting application. How can we take part in the test of the client? Searching in Connect, but no luck. Invitations maybe?

  • Thanks for pointing that out, hitmouse. We're humans over here and mistakes do happen. I've made many spelling and grammatical errors in my posts. I believe Yochay meant "presented" instead of "resented". I've flagged for him to take a look at the sentence again ;-)

  • hitmouse
    96 Posts

    "During Wednesday’s keynote, Brian Golgarb resented SilverFace"... LOL - unfortunate place to air such a view.