Friday, July 30, 2010

WP7 Panoramas are not the same as hubs

There seems to be some confusion about hubs and panoramas, in Windows Phone 7, as many people think they are the same thing. They're not, but let's see if I can clear things up a bit.

Firstly a panorama or panoramic tile. (Please don't further complicate this by confusing this with a live tile though.)

This is the very wide display (typically 4 screen widths wide) that the user can swipe from side to side to navigate. Vertical scrolling is not supported. The background is typically a single picture.

A built in control will be provided for developer use in the next/RTM version of the SDK. But, for now, a very good alternative (and very similar to what will actually be shipping) can be found at

So that's a panorama. It's simply a display and list control for use within an application.

So what about hubs?
Hubs are special applications which come on the device and serve as a central point for collating content, information and applications which are all focused on a single area.
The phones come with 6 built in hubs:
  • People: for contacts and social media update integration, etc.
  • Pictures: for photos taken on the device and synced from facebook or
  • Office: for OneNote, Word, Excel & Powerpoint
  • Games: for all games (unsurprisingly) and including XBox LIve integration.
  • Music + Video: no prizes for guessing what goes here
  • Marketplace: for buying lots of lovely apps, games, music, etc.

As an aside it may be useful to note that only the 'Pictures' and 'Music + Video' hubs offer any level of third party application integration.

So why the confusion?
Because all hubs use panoramas in their main screens.
I strongly suspect that as developers couldn't make their own hubs, nor have they been provided a panorama control, this has no doubt led to the grouping together of these two things in peoples minds.

Anything else?
Well yes. It seems that developers may be able to develop their own hubs in the future after all...
  Windows Phone 7: Developers can build their own hubs
  Windows Phone 7: Microsoft explains and expands hubs

Has that cleared things up now?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

[WP7Dev] Why there's no built in integration for Twitter and the people hub

Warning: This post is speculative and my own assumptions. It is not based on any inside knowledge.

When people hear that (in addition to Windows Phone 7 only currently supports Facebook as an integrated information store. They often wonder why there's no built in Twitter support/integration with the people hub.

I'm not aware of an official reason, but as the question seems to come up so frequently I thought I'd document my thoughts on possible reasons.

1.  To preserve battery life
This is the most obvious reason I can think of. If you're following hundreds of people all around the world and they're tweeting regularly that can be dozens of updates every minute. (If not more!)  All those updates will soon add up to lots of network traffic, processing to handle them and space to store them. Then there's the issue of propogating the most important ones to the users attention. These are issues that I think are better solved by third parties, thereby leaving Microsoft free to focus on other parts of the OS.

2. Because everyone else is doing it
My next thought is based on the fact that everyone and his dog seems to be building a twitter client themselves. For many this seems to have become the new "Hello World" app. With so many other apps already in existence and each offering different features, having something built in at best would lead to duplication or at worst could stifle innovation by causing people to not create something new when part of the functionality is already on the phone. Having to deal with the moving target that is the Twitter API can also be an issue.  If it introduced any new breaking changes or major changes it'd be tough

All that aside, I have heard reports that Microsoft are talking with Twitter about how integration could work in the future.