Windows 8: Animation Considerations

You and I know that Microsoft constantly innovate to come up with better solutions to existing products.

Metro touchscreen interface is yet another effort by Microsoft to prove that Windows 8 has a better and optimized GUI compared to its predecessors.

I attended their build conference and decided to take some notes that I am going to share with you in this article.

Factors to be determined in an animation sequence

  • The length of time for which the animations sequence will run, also termed as duration
  • Movement of the object from its initial position to a new position
  • Transparency or opacity associated with the sequence
  • Physics that determines how the object reacts to different situations such as collision between two moving objects

Animation library benefits

  • You can reuse existing animations to create new ones. The inbuilt animation code snippets provided by Windows 8 ensure that user experience is maximized and animation is performed seamlessly.
  • One to three lines of code are required in most cases using XAML and the pre-defined animation sequences are highly optimized for performance.

Microsoft’s ergonomic considerations

Microsoft wanted to ensure that the new interface allowed tablet users to work comfortably while using both their hands. They conducted extensive research on many tablet users to identify usage patterns.

Conclusions of Microsoft’s research

  • Since many people use a tablet with both their hands, the edges along the screen are the most easily accessible zones if a touch screen interface is to be designed.
  • The users are forced to change their position to accessing controls that are towards the center of the screen.
  • Try to place all touch-based controls towards the edge of the screen. If there are a large number of controls, try placing frequently used controls towards edges and the other controls towards the center of the screen.

Interface considerations

Microsoft recommends developers to use transitional effects provided by them through an Animation Library in Windows 8. For example, instead of writing custom code, developers should avail themselves of inbuilt code snippets to design icons that arrive on the screen while user is adding them.

Animation Library designed my Microsoft provides hardware acceleration. Developers need not learn any animation courses or after effects.

Gesture recognition

Microsoft has designed the touch screen effectively to recognize different user movements. For example, the applications have to capable of differentiating touch and swipe.

The user interface is capable of recognizing multi-touch gestures simultaneously and responds appropriately to each movement based on what the application does.

Semantic Zoom

According to Microsoft, semantic zoom is defined as the ability to view information increasingly detailed as the user moves from one level of zoom to another.

For example, a user may view only the application icon at the highest level, if he magnifies one-step he will observe the label of the icon with some details and so on.

Multitasking capabilities

Two applications can coexist on the main screen. One of the applications occupies center stage while the other one enters snap mode where it is compressed in the form of a small rectangle on the side of the main screen. In this manner, two apps truly interact with each other to provide improved user experience.

Let us hope that as a developer you use your instincts and Windows Animation Library to design exclusive animated apps for Windows.

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