Windows Store App Development Series : Part 8 – Charm Bar

Hello,

In the previous article of this series, I have explained different characteristics of a Windows Store App and the benefits of App Bar. In this article, I will explain another important UI component – Charm Bar.

Charm Bar

Windows 8 operating system has a new feature known as Charm Bar using which user gets access to various operating system functions / charms like Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings .

This feature is available across all the screens in Windows 8 including ‘Desktop’ app.

To access Charm Bar, hover the mouse over top right corner or alternatively you can use Windows + C keyboard shortcut. Below screenshot shows the Charm Bar on Windows start screen.

Start Screen - Charm Bar

The five charms

Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings are always available on the Charm Bar.

Lets understand the functionality of each of these charms.

  1. Search

    As the name suggests, this charm allows user to search for anything including apps, files, folder, settings. This is a context sensitive charm i.e. it performs intelligent search depending on the active application. For example, if the active application is ‘Start Screen’, it searches for files, apps etc. If the active application is ‘Mail’, it searches for specific messages in Mail.

    Start Screen - Charm Bar

    Search Charm

  2. Share

    It allows user to share the information from one application to other applications or with someone else. For example, user can easily share photos with other users using ‘Mail’ or ‘Facebook’ App. Similar to Search charm, this charm is also context sensitive. For example, if the active application is ‘Start Screen’ user don’t have anything to share with other apps or users, however if the active application is ‘Weather’, user can share weather information using this charm.

    Share Charm - Start Screen

    Share Charm - Weather

  3. Start

    Using this charm, user can switch between active application and Windows Start Screen. For example, if you’re on ‘Mail’ app and if you use this charm, it will bring you to Windows Start screen. If you use it again, it will bring you back to the ‘Mail’ app.

  4. Devices

    This charm allows you to connect to all the external devices connected to your PC, including both wired and wireless. This is particularly useful if you want to share the information on network PC or if you want to print a document.

    Devices Charm

  5. Settings

    This charm allows you to access PC or application settings. Similar to other charms, this is a context sensitive charm which displays PC settings if the ‘Start Screen’ is active application. If you activate some other app like ‘Maps’, this charm will display you ‘Maps’ app settings.

    Settings Charm - Start Screen

    Settings Charm - Bing Map

Summary

In this article, I have briefly explain the functionality of each of the charms available on Charm Bar. I hope it was useful for you.

Thanks.

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