Sharing Content in Windows 8

Even in today’s online social world, sharing content through desktop has remained a bit of pain that we have all learned to habituate to.

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.

Sharing in Windows 8

Windows 8 provides an excellent alternative to traditional sharing in Metro apps. Two Metro apps can “sign” a share contract, according to which one app shares content, and the other one receives content.

The contract also defines the structure of the content being shared. Thus, both the apps know what content they will share and receive. Once this contract is defined, the sharing app can just call the receiving app from within itself.

You don’t have to switch to the sharing app. Such a sharing interface is provided by the Share Charm of Windows OS. Thus, the OS itself provides a sharing platform to two contracted apps.

In order to invoke the Share Charm in an application

  • 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. The whole sharing process will complete within this pane.

Example 1 – Sharing Metro Internet Explorer’s webpage through Mail app

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.

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.

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.

Example 2 – Sharing Map app’s location through Tweetro app

I have opened up Maps app, which has marked my current location. As I wish to show off the sharing abilities of Windows 8, I invoke the Share Charm and select Tweetro, a Twitter app.

My location is shared as a link to the displayed map. I can also add a message along with it.

Example 3 – Sharing Wikipedia app’s article through People app

There is an awesome Wikipedia app in Windows Store. I was reading an article on it and found it interesting. So I want to share it to all my Facebook contacts. I can use People app for that.

The People app will post the link on my Facebook wall, thus sharing it with all my contacts. I could have shared the same link as a tweet with my Twitter contacts, through People app.

Example 3 – Sharing Finance app’s stock market values through Mail app

Finance app gives a good example of the structure of the content being shared; the structures that are defined in the Share Contract.

While browsing the main page of the Finance app, I open the Share Charm and select Mail app to share whatever data Finance can. It gives me the following data.

Being on the main page, Finance app shares the main indices – SENSEX and NIFTY – of the Indian stock market.

Now, I click the tile of Ford Motors in order to view the stock details of Ford.

Now, the Finance app will share the stock details of Ford Motors. Thus, the data structure changes according to the context of the Finance app. These structures are defined in the Share Contract.

Example 4 – Sharing a photo from Photo app through Mail app

Photos app has defined a Share Contract with Mail app in which, the structure of the data is picture. Thus, Mail app expects to receive picture(s) from the Photos app.

The Mail app receives a picture in form of a file attachment from Photos app.

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