But leaving the code aside, one of the most exciting challenges about Windows 8 apps is the UI/UX (after all, we're creating touch-interactive applications). Furthermore, they have its own way of organizing and displaying the content. So you should be very meticulous on topics like what and how (much) to show (there are some useful guidelines about this on msdn, like this one).
The guys up there seem to be aware of this, and they developed some controls that do most of the job for us. In particular, I'm going to focus on the WinJS.UI.ListView object. First of all, you need to know that it's designed to work with square containers, named tiles. You can find a set of predefined templates that fit some of the basic scenarios. But if you want something different, like multi-size tiles for example, you need to perform some adjustments in the ListView if you want to render all of them properly.
ListView layout generator
Note: you can find the source code here
I've created a Windows Store app that can help you for designing ListView layouts (specifically GridLayouts). It still needs a lot of work, but the basic functionality is there. Currently, it supports the following ListView modifications:
- You can enable multi-sized items in the layout
- You can modify the max-rows property
- You can set custom width and height for a particular group of items
- New! You can add several item styles at once (separated by a comma)
- New! Using item no. and group.no, you can style a single item in the list
- New! Use asterisk/star to add styles for all the items or groups
I'm going to be updating the app based on the feedback I received these days. Some new things I'm going to implement and you'll see soon are: an export button (so you can easily get the css code),
a way to identify a particular item in the list
add several styles at once
Once the app is launched you'll see a page with several items, separated in three different groups. Each item contains a specific css class, so you can style it if you want using CSS. To avoid refreshing the app every time you update the styles, you edit the ListView by clicking the Edit ListView command in the appBar (right-click on the app to display it). A flyout will pop-up, where you can update the ListView settings and add styles for the items. Some key points here:
- If you want to display a multi-size layout, activate the cell spanning switch and modify the cellWidth and cellHeight values.
- If you want to add item styles, type the item number in the first input and the desired width and height, then press the add icon (e.g.
Item 0 | 322 | 100)
- When you're ready, press the Update layout button to see the changes in the ListView.
For now, you can play with the values and learn what they are for. In the few next days, I'll write a new post explaining them in detail. Stay tuned!