The Share Charm

This charm enables an application to share its content to another application. However, its function is not as simple as it seems. The charm of the Share Charm is in the way it works. It enables the sharing in the most natural and the least intrusive manner.

Try to recall how you have always shared contents in computer. Say, you want to share some data from a word document to an excel sheet. You will need to copy the data from Word, switch away from the Word application to the Excel application, and then paste it.

Consider your sharing experience in a web browser. You like an article and you want to share it. That can be done in two ways:

  • Use any of the share buttons provided by Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc. In that case, another tab/window will open, authorize your account, and then lead you to the share screen, where you will finally be able to share your desired article.

OR

  • Open the social networking sites that you want to share on, copy the article link, and paste it on your desired site to share the link.

In both ways, you need to go away from your current application, and then go through a series of steps, just to share something.

Enter the Share Charm. You will never have to switch from your current application again. It’s just selecting the application you want to share with, and you are done.

How to Invoke It

  • Summon the Charms Bar, and select the “Share” button.

OR

  • Simply hit Win + H key combo.

This will invoke a sharing pane on the right side of the screen. Amazingly, the whole sharing process will complete within this pane. Thus, you won’t have to leave your application just to share some stuff.

Requirement/Constraints

  • This charm is Metro-exclusive. Only metro apps will be able to take its advantage; the traditional apps can forget this charm and be content with their copy-paste.
  • For two metro apps to be able to share content, they will have to define and implement a “contract” between them. The sharing app has to declare itself to be able to share content, while the receiving app has to declare itself to be able to receive content. The structure of content being shared will also be defined in the contract. For example, a photo viewer app would share image with a mail app. So, the contract will contain the content type as image.

An example

While browsing through Metro Internet Explorer, I really like a comic strip and want to share it. So I invoke the Share Charm and the following window appears.

Figure 1 Metro IE and the apps that it can share content with

Figure 1 Metro IE and the apps that it can share content with

As shown in the picture, IE currently can share its content with 4 apps: Mail, MetroTwit, People and Tweetro.

These apps have a share contract with IE.

I am still fond of mailing content in today’s modern world. So, I select the Mail app to share content.

Figure 2 IE sharing content with Mail app

Figure 2 IE sharing content with Mail app

So I just need to type in the recipients and hit send. I just shared my knowledge of a beautiful comic strip to the world, in the least intrusive manner! The sharing pane goes away after this. I never left IE in the sharing process.

Now, I want to tweet about the article. So I select MetroTwit app.

Figure 3 IE sharing content with MetroTwit

Figure 3 IE sharing content with MetroTwit

It’s as simple as that.

Notice how the content to be shared is already defined. You didn’t need to copy-paste the content. The content takes the form of HTML-rich link while sharing it with Mail while it converts into a short sentenced tweet while sharing it with MetroTwit. This definition of the type of content is pre-defined the Share Contract.

Conclusion

The Share Charm has the best potential in today’s information-rich world where people always have to / want to keep sharing content. Too bad that it’s only for Metro apps. Nevertheless, it is going to be a luxurious utility for socially active people.

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