First Look @ The New York Times (Times) Reader: 5 minute screencast overview

The following content is based on unreleased software. It may or may not accurately reflect the quality of the software when publically released. I make no warranties on the accuracy of the content.

New York Times ReaderA bird flew over my house today and pooped out a USB-drive with the NY Times Times Reader application on it. (I wonder how many times I need to say times in New York Times Times Reader.) Of course I installed it as soon as possible and checked out what all the fuss has been about. The NY Times Reader is an Windows Presentation Foundation powered application built on top of the .NET 3.0 Framework. It shows very practical uses and demonstrates the powers of WPF for both developers and users very well. If this is any sign of what applications in the Vista generation will look like, then it’s going to be a very beautiful future.

Here is a five minute screencast video overview of the New York Times Reader on Windows Vista. Note: This video does not accurately reflect the performance of Windows Vista or the NYTimes Reader due to technical limitations of the screen recording software.

New York Times Reader screencast
Click image to view video (H.264, 4:58min)

Some of the most interesting technologies:

  • Scalable and free-flowing column-based layout
  • Scalable images and advertisements
  • Searching through the “topic explorer”
  • High readability with anti-aliased fonts

Some of the things that bugged me was:

  • First boot, very slow to sync content.
  • “Get into it” interface. Does not offer assistance upon first use. Have to discover functionality by yourself.

Of course, taking into account this is still an incubation project and yet to be released beta, there is a lot of potential for improvements. This is an awesome application that I suggest every Windows user (XP & Vista) user to try when its available. For someone like me who shamelessly prefers style over content, I’m definitely switching from Google News to this!

13 insightful thoughts

  1. very interesting. It somewhat confirmed my thinking that Adobe Flex isn’t all that different from WPF. While WPF offers support for 3D I wonder how many applications will actually use it.

    Everything the NY Times application does could have been done in Flex. With the only difference that Flex is cross platform while WPF currently isn’t.

    It will be intersting to see what technology finds more uptake by developers.

  2. “Everything the NY Times application does could have been done in Flex”

    Tom-
    I don’t know how this video confirmed all that for you. I think you should install it and use it when it is available and then give your analysis.

    Thanks,
    Rob Relyea
    Program Manager, WPF Team

  3. Rob,

    I am happy to be proven wrong. I just had another look at the video. Are you able to point out which features in the application (showcased in the video) are integral to the WPF/ .Net 3.0 framework but currently don’t exist or couldn’t be done in Flex?

    As a media designer I feel WPFs strength is in 3d as well as “native application speed”. It’s draw back are that it’s limited to a very small install base. Maybe in 3 to 4 years it will be relevant. I just don’t see too many people downloading a 23 Mbyte runtime lib only so can see my application.

    T

  4. Tom-
    Take a look at the text rendering and text layout capabilities. With WPF, it is incredibly easy to build great paginated reading experiences.

    The job of the Times Reader is to be a great place to read the paper. I’m looking forward to hearing how people feel it does, once it they test drive it.

    Go sign up for the beta…it should be available soon.

    Thanks, Rob

  5. Rob,

    I am not disputing that the Times Reader is a fun application (I am sure Mr. Nielsen would argue differntly) but you are still not giving me any plausible argument as to what advantages WPF has over Flex/ Appolo. The layout engine in Appolo works just as well.

    I have been diddling with both Flex Builder and MS Interative Designer. Coming from the Flash world I found it quite easy to adapt to Flex Builder. While I have a background in both C++ and Visual Basic I just don’t seem to get how Interative Designer ties in with the programming environment. Maybe I am too thick but at the moment I just find it very hard to get into it.

    When I first heard about WPF I was very excited due to it’s native 3D support. However, so far I haven’t had much luck getting into the design environment. Any good resources you could point me to?

    T

  6. We would definitely love your feedback on Expression Interacive Designer. The best place for that is here:
    a) http://blogs.msdn.com/expression/archive/2006/09/06/743006.aspx
    b) http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/en-us/default.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.expression.interactivedesigner&lang=en&cr=US

    If you are interesting in digging into 3D support, there are several places to get started:

    1) Zam3d – a tool from Electric Rain to help create 3D models that can be used in WPF using XAML.
    http://www.erain.com/products/ZAM3D

    2) import tools for other 3d formats.
    http://blogs.msdn.com/mswanson/articles/WPFToolsAndControls.aspx

    3) Charles Petzold’s article on 3D in WPF
    http://www.charlespetzold.com/blog/2006/09/120140.html

    4) SDK documentation for 3D
    http://windowssdk.msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms747437.aspx

    Thanks, Rob

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