6 Days Until Win 8: Goodbye Chrome and More

Microsoft spent years hammering into developers heads that you need to include certain things on your Windows applications and you need to perform certain actions. Now they want you to forget a quite a few of those “Windows standards” and replace them with new ones.

Microsoft spent years teaching us that a little underline meant to hide the application and put an icon on a toolbar (aka minimize). They taught us that an X meant close. A little box meant that you should show the application and two overlapping boxes indicated that the application should be maximized to full screen.

With Windows Store Applications, they have thrown all those things away. There are no more minimize or maximize. The chrome — the features around the edge of an application such as the borders and the title bar — are gone. When the application is running, it is center stage.

The close button is also gone. In Window Store Apps, you don’t build a close or exit into your application. Instead , you let the system take care of closing an application for you. This opens up a number of issues you have to keep in mind.

While an application might not close, it might not have the main focus either. When an application loses focus, it runs the risk of being suspended if resources are needed. This means you’ll need to be prepared in case the application is shifted in out of main memory and set aside for a while. You’ll also need to make sure that when the application regains focus that it is in an acceptable state. On phones, this process of an application losing focus and resources is often referred to as tombstoning. Simply put, tombstoning is simply saving the state of your application if or when it loses focus so that when focus is regained you can restore the application to where it was or to a state that is still considered appropriate.

I could show the code for activating an application, then suspending and resuming; however, Microsoft has already provided code. The following three reference pages show the events you should set up to make sure your application can handle being suspended should it need be:

Parting Thoughts

While Windows Store Apps have differences from applications you likely created before. These differences are not necessarily bad. The ability to suspend and resume means that you can control the experience of the user. It also means that other applications can be suspended if necessary to give yours the resources it needs to get top performance.

The loss of chrome in applications causes some people to gives you more real estate for your application. While some of this room is taken away on smaller portable devices, and while some is lost by building bigger controls and more open layouts to support touch, the overall result is often a more engaging interface for applications.

As a developer, you need to consider both the interface of your application and the interaction of your application with the Windows 8 operating system. If you do, you might just design an application that engages and performs.

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