Windows 8 displays tiles on its start screen, making it easy for users to interact with your applications. These tiles act as a representation of your applications, and make it possible for users to start your applications. But tiles do much more. You can just display static information on a tile, but that’s not really the intent. Tiles allow you to display information pertinent to your application, making it possible to display new, real-time information to the user.
In general, you can display text and images, plus a status badge, on a tile. You can update the content of the tile regularly, in reaction to an event, or at any time. Beware that even if the tile displays active data, the user can elect to display only static data, and have no updates appear on the tile. In Figure 1, the WeatherBug and ABC News apps show active data.
Figure 1. WeatherBug and ABC News apps display live data.
Tiles come in two sizes: Square, and wide. Either size can display text, images, and/or a badge. You can (and probably should) include both square and wide tile configurations in your application package, so that users can switch between the two sizes at will. Users can mix and match square and wide tiles, and wide tiles are just the right size to “match” two square tiles side by side, with a 5-pixel gutter space, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Tiles come in two sizes.
In addition to text and images, tiles can display badges that contain specific information. For example, in Figure 3, the Mail app displays a badge with a count of the unread email messages. Badges can consist of numbers or a limited set of specific icons.
Figure 3. Note the badge on the Mail app.
NOTE: Creating badge notifications is beyond the scope of this particular chapter
Besides the main tile associated with an application, an application can display one or more secondary tiles. These secondary tiles allow users to promote specific content and internal links from within the application to the Start screen. These secondary tiles can display and/or link to specific content, such as:
- Information about specific friends
- Weather reports for specific locations
- Stock reports for specific stocks
Not all applications support creating secondary tiles, but many do. For example, Figure 4 shows a secondary tile for the Weather app showing weather conditions at a specific location.
Figure 4. A secondary tile in the Weather app.
This post is an excerpt from the online courseware Windows 8 Tiles, Badges, Print and Charms course written by expert Ken Getz.
Ken Getz is a Visual Studio expert with over 25 years of experience as a successful developer and consultant. He is a nationally recognized author and speaker, as well as a featured instructor for LearnNowOnline.