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(The views expressed are by someone who once fainted at the sight of CSS and has tapped out numerous times when looking at Visual Studio; viewer discretion advised. )

Content over chrome

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/39659547″>The Longest Street in the World</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/secondstory”>Second Story</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The first thing one should think about when creating touch applications on Windows 8. At one of the Developer sessions one of the Windows team members say that before you begin your app you should write what your App is best at. I’m not going to tell you that (because it’s kind of silly).

So what does this phrase mean? What is its essence (please read this in your worst French accent)?

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/43428799″>Bing for Surface v2</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/stimulant”>Stimulant</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Well basically it means that most of the interaction will take place on the screen from within the app. Windows Phone does this to a point but they have the App bar on screen; in Windows 8 the App bar is hidden. What this means for a designer or a developer is that the second question they must ask themselves is what controls and navigation elements need to be in the app and what should be delegated to the app bar.

Another aspect about Content over Chrome is the lack of “Chrome” in the program itself. You could think of chrome consisting of things like borders where controls are put and design flourishes; things added to enhance the look but not the function. Its why when a developer creates an app for Windows or Windows Phone it looks naked and why people complain about white space and lack of information density.

Part of the issue for anyone creating a Metro Modern application is that you really have to think about both what the app does and how it does more than if you were making a desktop app or a program for iOS and Android. Windows touch apps will be on more than just a tablet and users will not just be using touch for interaction. Developers should avoid trying to dump every control into the App bar; Metro means for you to meld controls into the content, the idea is direct manipulation and not using the bar to navigate.

For me the best example on how to understand how this type of program could work is to look at applications that have put the controls and content together. Also look at some of the applications built for the Microsoft Surface 2 aka PixelSense. There are two reasons I say this; one, because the touch gestures used are the same as Windows 8 and RT. Two, because PixelSense is a great example of an Immersive experience and the idea of not having chrome. So to that end the videos here are to show off examples.

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