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MVP Featured Apps: Windows and Surface Community Reader App and TechNet Windows Forum Reader

MVP Featured Apps: Windows and Surface Community Reader App and TechNet Windows Forum Reader

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Editor’s note:  The following post is a guest post by Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP Barb Bowman.

I have authored two Forums Reader Windows Store Apps; one for the Windows and Surface Communities and a second for the TechNet Windows Forums.

 

The Microsoft Windows and Surface Community Reader App includes coverage for content from Questions and Answers, Discussions, and Wikis from Microsoft Communities.

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The TechNet Windows Forum Reader includes content from the TechNet Windows Forums

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I’m a MVP who tries to keep up with current issues and provide support in a few of the Community (formerly Answers Forums), specifically in the Windows and Surface Categories (where I’m also a Forum Moderator). I also regularly read a few of the TechNet Windows Forums. I was one of the users of a NNTP bridge developed to interface with standard NNTP newsreaders, and I had been using Forte Inc.’s Agent Newsreader to participate in these forums. Using a newsreader gave me the ability to quickly scan hundreds of topics/subjects and several views, including a side by side view of content and pick the threads in which to participate/answer questions.

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When Microsoft recently made the decision that updating the back end services for the NNTP bridge (developed by a couple of very talented MVPs and not officially supported) going forward was not cost-effective for the number of users it determined to be using the bridge, I started looking at RSS feeds as a possible way to make efficient use of my time and started experimenting in Visual Studio.

I don’t classify myself as a “real” developer as my interests really are in the Connected Home, Photography, and other multimedia arenas, but I know a little JavaScript and thought that if I came up with something useful for me, it might be useful for others. Using JavaScript and JSON to pull the RSS feeds, I managed to duplicate some of the newsreader experience (but not all, of course).

I tackled the Communities Windows and Surface Forums first, and when Discussions and Wikis were launched, added them to the app. A couple of weeks after launching the Windows and Surface Community Reader, I started thinking that since I had most of the framework already done, I could produce a similar app for TechNet with a bit more work. In a few days’ time, I had built and tested a TechNet Windows Forum Reader and that app is available now as well.

What I ended up with was usable in Windows 8 RTM with snapped view running Modern IE side by side and even more usable for me in the Windows 8.1 Preview with split screen. JavaScript does not support Web View in VS 2012/Windows 8.0 so I needed to reply on IE.

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Snapped view on Windows 8: On my Surface in particular I could scroll super-fast and pick content I was interested in reading and quickly participate in threads.

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Full screen tile view: Note that images are supported.

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Full screen article view with image support, each with a link to the thread/article online.

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Subscriptions page

I hope these two apps are useful to others. I’ve already been asked if I’d consider making a similar app for MSDN Forums! I’ve been active in “communities” since the old CompuServe and BBS days, and can see that Microsoft is providing a richer experience than the old and flat text based forums, which is a better experience for those seeking help. It gives me great satisfaction to help others with issues where and when I can.

I also developed an app for my own blog as well.

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  • Very nice. Wonderful work. Thanks!

  • Hmm... not showing up in the New Zealand store...

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