Creating Live Tiles for Your Windows Phone Applications


One of the things admired about Windows Phone,
the new mobile operating system from Microsoft, is the concept of tiles. A tile
is a link to an application, which is displayed on the home page.

Types of Tiles

There are two types of tiles a Windows Phone application

  • Application Tile – An application tile is created when the user
    taps the application name in the application list and selects “pin to start”. An
    application tile cannot be deleted.
  • Secondary tile – A secondary tile can be deleted by unpinning the
    tile from Start.

To see live tiles in action, let us create an application.
To enable notifications, we will need to set up a client application, which
will send notifications to the Windows Phone application.

Let us start off with creating a very simple windows phone
application that will create an HTTP notification channel on which we will
register for events of interest. In our case, we are interested in the Channel
URI updated event.

To start off, create a new Silverlight for Windows Phone
application called WPApplicationTileDemo.

In MainPage.xaml.cs, add an HTTPNotificationChannel as a
member of the MainPage class. Also, add a button, and on its click event, add
code create to instantiate the HTTPNotificationChannel. Once you have the
notification channel, register for events we mentioned above. After registering
for events, open the channel and bind the channel to tile events.

Here is how our button’s click event handler code looks.

        private void button1_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
            pushChannel = HttpNotificationChannel.Find(channelName);

            // If the channel was not found, then create a new connection to the push service.
            if (pushChannel == null)
                pushChannel = new HttpNotificationChannel(channelName);

                // Register for all the events before attempting to open the channel.
                pushChannel.ChannelUriUpdated += new EventHandler<NotificationChannelUriEventArgs>(PushChannel_ChannelUriUpdated);


                // Bind this new channel for Tile events.

                // The channel was already open, so just register for all the events.
                pushChannel.ChannelUriUpdated += new EventHandler<NotificationChannelUriEventArgs>(PushChannel_ChannelUriUpdated);

                // Display the URI for testing purposes. Normally, the URI would be passed back to your web service at this point.
                MessageBox.Show(String.Format("Channel Uri is {0}",



Here is how the event handler for the Channel URI updated
event looks. Here, we seek to print the Channel URI so that we can use this in
our client application to send the update notification back to the application.

        void PushChannel_ChannelUriUpdated(object sender, NotificationChannelUriEventArgs e)

            Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>

Now that we have our Windows Phone application done, we can
work on our Client application.

Add a new Windows Form project to the solution. Let us call
it WinformTileClient.

Add a couple of textboxes and a button to the form. We will
paste the Channel URI on one text box and have an HTTP update response printed
out in the second textbox. Here I show the code for the button we create in our
WinformTileClient application.

        private void buttonUpdateTile_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
                string subscriptionUri = textBox1.Text;

                HttpWebRequest sendNotificationRequest = (HttpWebRequest)WebRequest.Create(subscriptionUri);

                // Create an HTTPWebRequest POST Message.
                sendNotificationRequest.Method = "POST";

                // Create an XML Tile message.
                string tileMessage = "<?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"utf-8\"?>" +
                "<wp:Notification xmlns_wp=\"WPNotification\">" +
                    "<wp:Tile>" +
                      "<wp:Count>" + "1" + "</wp:Count>" +
                      "<wp:Title>" + "Test Message" + "</wp:Title>" +
                "</wp:Tile> " +

                // Set the notification payload to send.
                byte[] notificationMessage = Encoding.Default.GetBytes(tileMessage);

                // Set the web request content length.
                sendNotificationRequest.ContentLength = notificationMessage.Length;
                sendNotificationRequest.ContentType = "text/xml";
                sendNotificationRequest.Headers.Add("X-WindowsPhone-Target", "token");
                sendNotificationRequest.Headers.Add("X-NotificationClass", "1");

                using (Stream requestStream = sendNotificationRequest.GetRequestStream())
                    requestStream.Write(notificationMessage, 0, notificationMessage.Length);

                // Send the notification and get the response.
                HttpWebResponse response = (HttpWebResponse)sendNotificationRequest.GetResponse();
                string notificationStatus = response.Headers["X-NotificationStatus"];
                string notificationChannelStatus = response.Headers["X-SubscriptionStatus"];
                string deviceConnectionStatus = response.Headers["X-DeviceConnectionStatus"];

                // Display the response from the Microsoft Push Notification Service.
                textBox2.Text = notificationStatus + " | " + deviceConnectionStatus + " | " + notificationChannelStatus;
            catch (Exception ex)
                textBox2.Text = "We got an Exception : " + ex.ToString();


We see that in our action button, we create a WebRequest of
the type “POST”. We then send a XML message with the following content

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
	<wp:Notification xmlns_wp="WPNotification">
			<wp:Count>"somenumber" </wp:Count>
          <wp:Title>"Test Message"</wp:Title>

This is what we intend to send.

We will display some number on the tile. We will also
display some text “Test message” in the application tile.

We send the notification via sendNotificationRequest.GetResponse()
API. We then process the response to update the textbox for response.

Now that our client is also coded, let us fire up the
Windows Phone application and click on the button to get started.

Once we click on the button on the Windows Phone
application, we notice that the Channel URI is printed in the Debug window
inside Visual Studio.

'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded 'mscorlib.dll'
'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded 'System.Windows.RuntimeHost.dll'
'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded 'System.dll'
'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded 'System.Windows.dll'
'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded 'System.Core.dll'
'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded 'System.Xml.dll'
'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded '\Applications\Install\56762ED3-65B8-45CC-9BF1-86DA84522B82\Install\WPApplicationTileDemo.dll', Symbols loaded.
'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded 'Microsoft.Phone.dll'
'taskhost.exe' (Managed): Loaded 'Microsoft.Phone.Interop.dll'

Copy paste the URI to clipboard.

Next navigate to the application list and right click on
WPApplicationTileDemo and select “Pin to start”.

Right click on WPApplicationTileDemo
Figure 1: Right click on WPApplicationTileDemo

You will notice that the application tile is created.

The application tile is created
Figure 2: The application tile is created

Now, start the Windows Forms application, and paste the
contents of the URI to the textbox for the URI and click “Send Notification”

The Windows Forms application
Figure 3: The Windows Forms application

As soon as we receive a response in our Windows Form
application, switch over to the Windows Phone emulator and you will notice that
we get an update in the application tile.

The Windows Phone emulator
Figure 4: The Windows Phone emulator

This is how Windows Live tiles can be created.

If you are having trouble following along, you can download
the attached source code which has this already.


In this article, we learned how to create live tiles for
your Windows Phone application.

I hope you have found this information useful.

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