Scott Hanselman

NYTimes Reader - WPF's First Killer App

September 25, 2006 Comment on this post [8] Posted in Reviews
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Nytimesreader2Is it worth the prerequisite runtime installation of the .NET Framework 3.0? I think so. It was mistakenly "released" earlier this week, but only for @nytimes.com and @microsoft.com users. Today it's available to everyone.

Nytimesreader1The look and feel is very nice. The initial sync of content is a smidge slow, but it can be schedule and run in the tray. The NYTimes Reader can be run with just the arrow keys and page-up/down keys and includes the new scaling and text-flow techniques introduced by WPF which means it looks good on the largest or smallest of screens.

The same page appears in the left screenshot resized very small and to the right maximized. Notice the number of columns changes and the image adjusts to an appropriate position.

You can register (free) and download the NYTimes Reader yourself and enjoy. It's a great example of what WPF can do without being garish. It's a clean and elegant and ultimately newspaper-like experience, and it has full-screen mode - always a plus.

NytimesreaderiraqThe only think that could have made it a nicer experience would have been support for ClickOnce, but they apparently wanted their installer to warn the user about the need for the .NET Framework 3.0 and walk them through it, which I understand.

You might think, why download an app like this that only gets Times content? Well, there's a crapload of content and it just about justifies an app...you get the whole paper. But for me, this app is a harbinger of what the first awesome WPF RSS Reader should look like. If this is what  FeedDemon could do for my feeds (Nick, are you listening?) that would be utterly wonderful.

This app has just the right design, font style, font anti-aliasing and font scaling, to make reading a newspaper on your an enjoyable tasks. Go get it.

UPDATE: I just realized that this feels a lot like PointCast. I bet some of these young Web 2.0 kids don't remember PointCast and we'll see history repeat itself, this time with WPF and RSS.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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September 26, 2006 0:30
Great little app. Wish Microsoft would make .Net 3.0 a part of the operating system. My work at a large gov't agency is still at .Net 1.1, slowly moving to 2.0.

Thanks for the update.

BTW. Love Hanselminutes. Please do DNR TV soon!
September 26, 2006 0:59
I agree - this one is definitely worth the install of .NET 2.5 3.0 (and I'm from down under, so a NY newspaper is not all that relevant!)

As for a WPF-based RSS Reader, well the new version of Microsoft Codename Max gives a taste of things to come with its inbuilt RSS news support. Very nice.

cheers,
September 26, 2006 2:33
Scott-
I'm glad to hear your positive review of the Times Reader.
Personally, I use it every day. There are still a bunch of ways it can be improved...but I love it already.

Floyd-
Windows Vista includes .Net Framework 3.0. On Windows XP SP2 or Windows Server 2003, you'll need to install .Net Framework 3.0

-Rob Relyea
Program Manager, WPF Team
September 26, 2006 4:37
yeah.. this is like, so totally killer..

Its like all my text based news.. only.... like 1970s cool...

wow...

September 26, 2006 6:30
I'm sorry but I do not see the added value of using WPF in this Application
what has been done and cannot been done without WPF ?

thanks
Dror
September 26, 2006 9:17
Scott, I had the same impressions that you did, even though I'm in the UK - I love it. I think it's excellent that newspapers are innovating in this way. This is one of the best uses of WPF that I've seen, but with apps like Microsoft Max, the future looks very interesting.
September 27, 2006 15:44
[I apologize if this ends up being a repost - but my first attempt seemed to have a problem]
Please excuse my ignorance, but I'm having trouble understanding something. I know .NET 3 includes WPF. You can install .NET 3 on WinXP SP2. But, I thought WPF depends on new technologies only available in the Vista OS (vector graphics, glass, etc), so what's the point of installing WPF on WinXP SP2? Am I wrong? Can WPF applications run on WinXP SP2?
September 27, 2006 15:44
Other nice touches in the NY times Reader:

1. Integrates into Vista search -- Windows key -- type a term -- results will include articles from the NY Times. Awesome!
2. WPF and resolution independence: Open up windows magnifier. Zoom around the rest of your desktop. Now mouse-over the NY Times Reader. :)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.