Archive for the 'WPF' category

New SDK for HP TouchSmart software development – out now!

November 16, 2009 8:30 am


Today HP is announcing a new Software Development Kit for helping you write apps that play well in the HP TouchSmart “shell” environment. The new SDK still contains the general guidelines that outline both what makes a good app that’s optimized for touch interaction and the general rules you have to play by in order to “fit” into the HP TouchSmart shell.

But this time around there’s more: For the first time there is also documentation for a WPF library that you can use to more quickly write an app that heeds all of the rules that need to be followed. This library has actually existed for a few releases already, but it was not documented until now (for HP TouchSmart 3.0).

There are also two sample applications. One that demonstrates the basics of the WPF library (and that shows you what the shell does to the apps on a pretty detailed level – it’s great for seeing what registered messages are sent to the app, how the app gets sized, etc.) and one that’s a little game. To round out things, there’s some skeleton sample app code as well, so you can get started quickly with your app idea.

Here are a few screenshots of the two sample apps:


“Hello world” Wide-interactive tile



“Hello world” Large tile



Notification with CircleX icon



Notification with CircleCheck icon



“Hello Mole” Wide-interactive tile


The documentation is provided in two forms: PDF for easy printing and reading offline as well as in Windows Help format for easy searching and looking at class library details.

You’ll notice that most of this only applies to WPF development. If you’re not using WPF yet (why aren’t you? – it’s a great platform), the general guidelines still apply and work. The shell is actually technology agnostic, since all it cares about, really, is the window (handle) your app produces. As long as your technology stack produces a Win32 window, you can “play”. The essence of that is something I’ve talked about before.

So where can you get this newfangled contraption? Head right over to to start downloading. There’s still a license agreement in the installer (to make the lawyers happy), but I believe you can now download the thing without having to consent to the agreement first.

New HP TouchSmart 600 and 300: choice quotes on the software

October 13, 2009 8:23 am

This third-generation TouchSmart PC is boosted by Windows 7’s gesture support, but HP’s custom multitouch software is even more impressive.

But as with the earlier models, on the TouchSmart 600 it’s HP’s custom software that really shines. Version 3.0 is a significant upgrade, offering touch-friendly versions of Hulu, Netflix, Twitter […]

And the HP apps now multitask, letting you hop back and forth by sliding them around with a fingertip. The interface is responsive, and is the benchmark for upcoming Windows 7 all-in-one PCs from Acer, Asus, Dell, Gateway, and MSI.


[…], but more important is what HP is doing with its own TouchSmart application. It’s added panes for Hulu, Netflix, Twitter and an HP Music Store powered by Rhapsody, which work in nicely with the rest of the touch-friendly apps onboard and a bit of underlying Microsoft technology keeping things humming — like a nice big handwriting pane for quick Rhapsody searches. There’s also a voice controlled recipe app that can capture recipes from popular recipe sites and read them out loud to you, and the photo app can hook up with a phone over Bluetooth and pull off photos.


But to really take advantage of the system, you’ll want to use the TouchSmart interface and the wonderful, custom apps.

The one downfall here is that HP has designed TouchSmart to run all of the bundled apps at once. You’re truly multitasking, and that means stacking HDTV, Hulu, Netflix, photo editing, a browser, Twitter, and even more video playback. The system generally handles itself admirably, but the TV tuning definitely tips the scales on occasion (just watch the video for interface stutters). If I were to use the system as my DVR on a regular basis, I’d probably cut down the fat on HP’s apps and buy myself some resources.

I want to love the TouchSmart 600, but I just really, really like it a lot. The functionality is all there; no one can question the full media suite of apps, like Netflix, Hulu, and Twitter, let alone the full Windows 7 OS sitting right behind HP’s optional software. It’s the light performance hiccups coupled with a less than 100% touch interface that stop me from screaming at the top of my lungs, "YOU SHOULD BUY THIS RIGHT NOW OR GIVE UP ON LIFE COMPLETELY."

While HP has clearly borrowed from Sony in its wall-mounting and video input capabilities, the software designed for its touch interface is unique and just as compelling.

As promising as we find HP’s new touch programs, Recipe Box in particular, we found the touch interface unresponsive at times, and the main touch software carousel can be slow to load.

Neither Sony nor Gateway have put as much effort into their respective touch software as HP has.

You might also appreciate the numerous video tutorials included with the system to help you navigate the new touch software.

HP continues to put its TouchSmart user interface on top of Windows 7 and it is one of the best I have seen. The new stuff comes in the way of applications; there are now loads of new third party applications, including Hulu, Twitter and Netflix. The interface is as smooth as a baby’s bottom and the main set of tiles fan across the screen and you can easily flick to toggle them. Again, check out the full review of the TouchSmart 600 to get a glimpse of how it really works. HP may just have a method to its touch madness.

Not only is the touch interface on the refreshed tx2 much better than anything else we’ve used on a notebook, HP is adding cool new apps like Twitter and Hulu, with more to come.

What makes the “new” tx2 stand out is what it does with touch.

Unlike the very limited MediaSmart software HP bundled previously, this machine has HP’s full TouchSmart treatment, which means it has the same slick tile interface and nearly all the same applications. These include photos, music, weather, notes, games, a touch-friendly Web browser, and more. Just like on the desktop, you can move smaller menu items to the main menu by dragging the tiles up, or vice versa.

HP has released two new TouchSmart All-in-one PCs and these latest models come preloaded with an  impressive, and very much improved upon set of built-for-touch applications.

HP’s new all-in-one TouchSmart PCs come with an improved touch interface and some new apps. I really like Recipe Box, an application that organizes all of your online recipes. The application can be controlled with your fingers or through a Bluetooth headset. I rarely cook, but I’d probably be willing to spend more time in the kitchen if I had something like this.

The new TouchSmart PCs have a touch interface that’s a lot more lively than previous versions.

The new TouchSmart PCs come with touch applications for Hulu, Netflix and Twitter. Consumers may have fun with these applications, but I found the business applications HP had on display much more compelling.

Edit [adding more stuff just because]:


I will hand it to HP and Sony: their interfaces are gorgeous. The HP interface I saw last week has a number of simple tools – a recipe box, for example, that can take recipes from the web and import them into a private database – as well as the standard stretch’n’drag photo and note-taking applications that make touch actually compelling.

I’m sure there will be more, and there will be more criticism too. Developing software is always about trade-offs, and sometimes customers want other trade-offs to be made; that’s why software is never “done”.

But these first few reviews make me feel it was worth the time, working on the TouchSmart software. And yes, the “shell” that hosts all the various applications is still written in WPF. WPF rocks!

Digitial photo metadata: What a mess! Tools disagree on what is what.

December 26, 2008 12:52 am

Part of the motivation to write my Simple Photo Tagger program was to make sure that when I put a caption on a picture, it will be embedded in the picture in all the various “locations” (I have no better word for it) that the various tools out there use.

And let me tell you, it’s a big mess! To illustrate, let me use the WIC query notation for metadata that Microsoft uses and list which program uses what locations to store “caption” (and “select” other) information:

Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 Organizer

Windows Live Photo Gallery 12.0.1347.718

Google Picasa 3.1.0 (build 70.71, 0)

Microsoft Pro Photo Tools 1.0
/app13/irb/8bimiptc/iptc/Object Name


Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1

/app13/irb/8bimiptc/iptc/Object Name

I actually used Simple Photo Tagger to discover these differences, since it will query most of the above locations and display any that have data “in them”. The ones that don’t have data, will not be shown.

So if you want to make sure that no matter which tool you use to work on your digital photos, they will pick up your caption properly, use Simple Photo Tagger. It will make sure to write your caption to as many locations as the various other tools out there seem to use.

Simple Photo Tagger – A simple, fast and efficient tool for adding comments to digital pictures

December 24, 2008 3:28 pm

You may have seen the CardSharkV program I’ve published here previously. So far it hasn’t met with much interest out there. Maybe this one will: Simple Photo Tagger.

SimplePhotoTagger1         SimplePhotoTagger2

I’ve been looking for a program that will help me work through commenting on thousands of my digital photos. I haven’t found anything that’s focused solely on this one task that I consider essential for adding value to my collection. So, like any developer not finding what he/she wants, I rolled my own.

I’m making the result available to you, in case you’re interested. It’s written in WPF 3.5 SP1, in case you’re curious about such details. I’m looking for testers and feedback, so for a while I’ll waive the nominal charge for a license key.