Blog

Windows 8:Interacting with Tiles

Excerpt by Ken Getz

Windows 8 displays tiles on its start screen, making it easy for users to interact with your applications. These tiles act as a representation of your applications, and make it possible for users to start your applications. But tiles do much more. You can just display static information on a tile, but that's not really the intent. Tiles allow you to display information pertinent to your application, making it possible to display new, real-time information to the user. In general, you can display text and images, plus a status badge, on a tile. You can update the content of the tile regularly, in reaction to an event, or at any time. Beware that even if the tile displays active data, the user can elect to display only static data, and have no updates appear on the tile. In Figure 1, the WeatherBug and ABC News apps show active data.

Win8 

Figure 1. WeatherBug and ABC News apps display live data.

Tile Variations

Tiles come in two sizes: Square, and wide. Either size can display text, images, and/or a badge. You can (and probably should) include both square and wide tile configurations in your application package, so that users can switch between the two sizes at will. Users can mix and match square and wide tiles, and wide tiles are just the right size to "match" two square tiles side by side, with a 5-pixel gutter space, as shown in Figure 2.

Win8Fig2

Figure 2. Tiles come in two sizes.

 

In addition to text and images, tiles can display badges that contain specific information. For example, in Figure 3, the Mail app displays a badge with a count of the unread email messages. Badges can consist of numbers or a limited set of specific icons.

Win8Fig3

Figure 3. Note the badge on the Mail app.

NOTE: Creating badge notifications is beyond the scope of this particular chapter

Secondary Tiles

Besides the main tile associated with an application, an application can display one or more secondary tiles. These secondary tiles allow users to promote specific content and internal links from within the application to the Start screen. These secondary tiles can display and/or link to specific content, such as:

  •  Information about specific friends
  •  Weather reports for specific locations
  •  Stock reports for specific stocks

Not all applications support creating secondary tiles, but many do. For example, Figure 4 shows a secondary tile for the Weather app showing weather conditions at a specific location.

Win8Fig4

Figure 4. A secondary tile in the Weather app.

This post is an excerpt from the online courseware Windows 8 Tiles, Badges, Print and Charms course written by expert Ken Getz.



Ken Getz
Ken Getz is a featured instructor for several of our Visual Studio courses. He is a Visual Basic and Visual C# expert and has been recognized multiple times as a Microsoft MVP. Ken is a seasoned instructor, successful consultant, and the author or co-author of several best-selling books. He is a frequent speaker at technical conferences like Tech-Ed, VSLive, and DevConnections and he has written for several of the industry's most-respected publications including Visual Studio Magazine, CoDe Magazine, and MSDN Magazine.


This course excerpt was originally posted March 10, 2014 from the online courseware Windows 8 Using XAML, Part 13: Tiles and Templates by Ken Getz