Windows 8 Metro style application - Where's my Back button?

By Martin Schaeferle | July 31, 2012


Windows 8 Metro style applications offer a new world when it comes to navigation. After all, Metro style apps hinge on the functionality of touch, meaning that applications running in this environment are intended to be used and navigated via touch.

While it is true that users can still operate a mouse, a keyboard and/or a pen to direct their travel across your app's pages, it is good to keep in mind that touch is where you should initially focus on your app's navigation features. So what do you do when a crucial part of the navigable features doesn't seem to work?

Many developers have run into problems finding a visible and functional Back button when working within a Metro style app basic page template. You don't have to have much experience with any mobile device or Internet browser to know the Back button is crucial. But not to panic, there is a way to address this issue. Your Back button may not be visible due to improper use of the Frame Buffer.

Windows 8 determines whether your Metro style application will have a Back button by checking to see if there are any pages loaded in your StackPanel. StackPanels provide the developer the ability to stack the elements of your app in an assigned direction. In Windows 8, content flows vertically by default, but can also flow horizontally. However, if there is nothing in your StackPanel, then your Back button has nothing to go back to, and therefore it won't display.

To rectify this problem you must create a roadmap for your Metro style app to follow using your StackPanel. Once you've mastered roadmaps, you'll be on your way to creating better Metro style applications.

Want to learn more? Take an online training course! While it isn't necessarily user-friendly to have to build in a function in order to create a Back button feature, it can be done. Doing so will make your Metro style app run much more smoothly.

Martin Schaeferle

Martin Schaeferle has taught IT professionals nationwide to develop applications using Visual Basic, Microsoft SQL Server, ASP, and XML. He has been a featured speaker at Microsoft Tech-Ed and the Microsoft NCD Channel Summit, and he specializes in developing Visual Basic database applications, COM-based components, and ASP-based Web sites. In addition to writing and presenting technical training content, Martin is also LearnNowOnline's vice president of technology.

This blog entry was originally posted July 31, 2012 by Martin Schaeferle