An electronic magazine that doesn’t suck

I’ve been having some interesting chats on the .net forums about the future of print magazines in an increasingly webby world, and one of my big moans is that the e-magazines so far have used really annoying technology – so for example I’m not a big fan of pages in PDF or solutions such as Xinio Reader.

One of the magazines I write for is Official Windows Vista Magazine, and one of the things I’ve been covering recently is Windows Presentation Foundation. It’s part of the .NET framework and it’s designed to do two things: to create applications, and to create browser-based applications. For now it’s a Vista and/or IE7 thing, but the WPF Everywhere plugin will make WPF applications work on Firefox and Safari too.

It’s impressive stuff. The British Library’s Turning The Pages project, which brings ancient tomes to life, has started using WPF (previously it used Shockwave) to excellent effect, and Paul Douglas of Official Windows Vista Magazine has persuaded the developers – Armadillo Systems, with some help from Microsoft – to create a browser version of the Vista mag using the same technology.

You can see more details and get the browser-based mag here.

Just to clarify, the tech used by the magazine is built into Vista so the browser-based mag will work immediately, but if you’re on Windows XP you’ll need to install the .NET framework 3.0 first.

Is this the future of magazines? Probably not on the desktop, although I think a browser-based magazine built in WPF would be superb on a tablet PC (if such things ever come down in price). In the case of this particular application I think the tilted presentation looks nice but has a detrimental effect on readability, but maybe that’s just me – and it’s definitely the closest approximation to a real magazine that I’ve seen on screen. As a tech showcase I think it’s really interesting – not least the text rendering, and of course the content. My blabs are on pages 10 to 11, heh.

So if you’re running IE7 and/or Vista, have a look and a play around with it. I’d be interested to hear what you think.






0 responses to “An electronic magazine that doesn’t suck”

  1. Thanks for the link, Gary. You can adjust the tilt of the magazine by holding Shift and then dragging with the mouse. You can also use the mouse wheel to zoom, while Control + drag with the cursor lets you drag the mag around.

  2. Gary

    Ah sorry, that’s a not-very-rare example of me being thick.

  3. mupwangle

    Was WPF meant to be the PDF killer? I wonder what the open source community will come up with when adobe make it open source (which I believe is happening soon)

  4. Gary, I didn’t know those controls worked, either, until I read it in the comments on another blog —

    mupwangle, no, that’s XPS.

  5. Given that you write for Beelzebub and might know some people in there: Can you ask them why the wireless keyboard and mouse (6000) system I bought today, prominently marked “Microsoft”, comes with software that Windows decalres is not Windows compatible?

    I’d just love to know really.

  6. What software is that?

  7. Gary

    I’d have thought it’s the standard IntelliPoint software, which I’ve never encountered problems with. What message did you get?

    Latest intellipoint for your kit on XP is here:

  8. It surprised the hell out of me too, Microsoft software telling me, on an XP machine, that the Microsoft software was not compatible. Loaded the new stuff you pointed to and we’ll see what happens.

  9. Nope, bugger all happens.
    I’ve put on the software, put the batteries in, connected the USB plug and zilch, nada. The software is still saying, as it’s trying to load, that something or other (as it’s in Portuguese, not sure what) doesn’t pass the Logo test, whatever that is.

  10. mupwangle

    If it’s saying that it doesn’t pass the logo test then it just means it isn’t digitally signed. Doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t work. Unless you’re using Windows 2000 as some MS wireless keyboards don’t work.

    If it is unsigned and doesn’t give you the option to install it anyway then you can change the driver signing options in system properties (right-click my computer) in the hardware tab , about half way down. It’s probably set to block. Change it to warn and you can install unsigned stuff.

    If you’re using vista, however, good luck. ;-)

  11. tm

    >as it’s in Portuguese

    Thats a bad sign. Do you happen to actually be running under some kind of Portuguese locale or have it installed on your machine? Given that’s its an input device are you sure it’s doesn’t think it’s Portuguese and is simply telling you that you can’t install a Portuguese locale keyboard on an English locale machine?

    If not, and it seems a little unlikely (although you can recognize it as Portuguese, so maybe not), then it sounds horked.

  12. Gary

    Do you happen to actually be running under some kind of Portuguese locale

    Tim’s in Portugal.

  13. tm

    >Tim’s in Portugal.

    Ah, well that’s it then – don’t be so damn stupid.

  14. tm

    I hate pressing return before you meant to. ;-(

    Everone knows’s microsoft stuff doesn’t work in portuagal. It’s in that book of small print ‘lincense agreement’ stuff they give you – on page 147.

  15. Hmmm, interesting concept but will there ways to get this to work in Linux or on a Mac? Or will this firefox plugin mean that it’ll work on those OSs anyway.

    I understand it’s a Windows application, just wondering if it’ll work seeing as I’ll be unable to try it out otherwise

  16. tm

    >Portuguese locale keyboard on an English locale machine?

    And given you clearly do have a potuguese locale check the opposite. No matter what they claim the locale stuff never works quite as well as it should.

  17. Gary

    Rutty, as far as I know the plan is for a WPF/Everywhere plugin for Firefox and for the Mac. Not sure about Linux, but I’ll be talking to the WPF chaps soon so I’ll ask ’em.

  18. Gary

    Is localisation a bit knacked in XP, Tom?

  19. tm

    Well, it works better than it used to but I’m still extremely dubious of connecting a device which, by default, thinks it’s in one langauge to a machine which may or may not think it’s in another…

    That may not be the problem, but it is the most obvious “difference” that could be going wrong. I’d make sure that british and US english are installed then install the keyboard – if it still happens do it again with english as the currently select locale. If it still fails then it’s probably something else.

    It should only take a few hours to eliminate that possibilty ;-)