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Alerting the user with notification windows

From: Silverlight 5 Essential Training

Video: Alerting the user with notification windows

SilverLight supports several ways to show a dialog to the user. In the lynda.com Silverlight 3 Essential Training series I show how to create a pop-up window and how to work with dialogs. Today I want to show you the new Notification feature in Silverlight 4. It's important to know, however, that notification window can only be used in an out-of-browser application. A Notification is a window that animates into view, usually in the lower right-hand corner of your Windows desktop. It is customizable with your own UI.

Alerting the user with notification windows

SilverLight supports several ways to show a dialog to the user. In the lynda.com Silverlight 3 Essential Training series I show how to create a pop-up window and how to work with dialogs. Today I want to show you the new Notification feature in Silverlight 4. It's important to know, however, that notification window can only be used in an out-of-browser application. A Notification is a window that animates into view, usually in the lower right-hand corner of your Windows desktop. It is customizable with your own UI.

As you can see, I'm inside Visual Studio and I have opened a project called AddNotificationWindow. In the code behind for this window, which I can see by pressing F7, I've created a timer using the DispatcherTimer, which is a thread-safe timer for Silverlight. And in the timer I am firing this code down here in the timer_Tick procedure. So what I do in here is I check first to see if I'm running out of browser because remember, I can only do notification windows if I am running out of browser.

And if so, I stop the timer. Do some work in here. In my case, I want to show this first demo, so I am going to comment out this code at the bottom of the page. Click here in this Comment button, and then I am going to uncomment this code up here in the first demo. What this is going to do is it's going to create a shell to put my content in. It's called the NotificationWindow.

I then specify the size of that window. Note here that I tell you the maximum size that you're allowed 400x100 pixels. So I picked a size that's smaller than that. And then I call win.Show and I pass in the number of milliseconds that I want this window to show on the screen. Let's try it out. I am going to press F5. Now because of the way I have configured my application--let me go to Properties > Debug and you see that I have out-of-browser application--it's automatically going to install the application every time I press F5.

So I will press F5. There is my out-of- browser window. And if you look in the lower right-hand corner you will see that this window pops up. And it's just this blank window. There's nothing in it. It stays up for six seconds. It's my job to write some XAML to create the UI and then load it into that notification window. Let's do that. Back to my code page. I am going to comment out this code. You can comment code and uncomment by using Ctrl+K, Ctrl+C and Ctrl+K, Ctrl+U to uncomment it, Ctrl+K, Ctrl+U. Now let's see what I am doing here.

This time I am starting the NotificationWindow and I'm instantiating a user control that I wrote that contains the UI that I want to show. That's over here, NotifyUser.xaml. I am thinking this as like a notification from my friends, let's say things like, "hey, I just found this new CD; what do you think of it?" or "I hear that this band is coming to town; let's go to the concert." It has a UI with an icon, a title bar, and a button that I can click on to buy the CD.

That's my UI. I am going to load that in via code by going over here and saying instantiate that user control, set the height of the NotificationWindow and the width to the matching size of the underlying control, put this message title in, and this message. Now I have created some dependency properties on the NotifyUser file. I encourage you to learn more about dependency properties. That's the correct way of exposing read and write data out of a user control. Here is the code for setting the message property.

I'll come back over here to MainPage.xaml.cs, and I'm setting this string on that dependency property. Then the key part here is I assigned that brand-new UI I just generated to the content of the NotificationWindow. And this is what it looks like. Press F5 again, wait a few seconds, and then look in the lower corner, and here comes a message from Amy. And this is interactive. While it's up onscreen, I can click on this button. I don't know if you saw that, but when I clicked on the button I had some code behind that actually changed the message on that NotificationWindow.

That proves that they are interactive. Now you can only have one NotificationWindow open at a time. If you want to, like, queue messages up from your friends, it's better if you create some sort of notification service and it does the automatic queuing. By default, Silverlight doesn't offer that, but it's not that hard to create. I have an example on how to do that. I have created something called NotifyService. NotifyService is a class that I wrote that basically queues up all those future notification windows.

Let's see how it works. We can come back to my MainPage.xaml.cs file, comment this code out Ctrl+K, Ctrl+C, uncomment this, Ctrl+K, Ctrl+U. And you can see that I am using AddNotificationWindow, which is a static method, and I am passing in two strings: the title and the content. Now if you press F12 while you are on this, it will take you over to the definition of that function. And that says that I want to add a NotificationWindow. Inside here you see here I am just creating that NotificationWindow; wiring up an event procedure that says when this window closes, run some code; create a brand-new notify UI--that's the same NotifyUser control I showed you earlier; same code down here; and then this is the key part--I call AddNotificationToQueue, which is down here.

So if there is no windows in the queue the first time this runs, it will show the NotificationWindow. However, if there already is a window in scope then instead what I do is I then queue the item into .NET queue. So those start stacking up. As soon as the window closes that's currently shown, it fires this event when closed and I set that to null. So you see what happens the next time I do an AddNotification; this would be set to null. So it showed the window immediately. If there are any items in the queue then they are going to get popped out, and that's what's happening down here in this code: if (_notifyQueue.Count > 0, then Dequeue.

Now it puts this code in here to simulate some space between the messages, but I'm not encouraging you to write a Thread.Sleep in your code because that will lock up your UI thread; it's not a good thing to do. Let's see what this looks like. Press F5 again to run the application. Keep your eye in that lower right-hand corner. Martin tells me something interesting. Then I get the next message and finally, some concert news. As I mentioned, there are some limitations to these notifications, or sometimes called toast windows. For one, you can only have one open at a time.

Still, I find they're very handy, and they give you an interesting mechanism to show instant alerts in your application.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Silverlight 5 Essential Training
Silverlight 5 Essential Training

106 video lessons · 5445 viewers

Walt Ritscher
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 41s
    1. Welcome
      53s
    2. Using the exercise files
      48s
  2. 35m 0s
    1. Overview of Silverlight
      3m 29s
    2. Setting up a developer computer
      2m 46s
    3. Installing the Silverlight Toolkit
      2m 21s
    4. Exploring the toolkit samples
      2m 35s
    5. Using Visual Studio 2010 to create a Silverlight project
      5m 10s
    6. Using Expression Blend to create a Silverlight project
      3m 13s
    7. Getting to know the Visual Studio interface
      8m 15s
    8. Working in the Expression Blend interface
      7m 11s
  3. 29m 46s
    1. Understanding the Visual Studio project structure
      3m 38s
    2. Creating a Silverlight page
      3m 17s
    3. Compiling your first application
      5m 0s
    4. Using other assemblies in an application
      5m 45s
    5. Deploying a Silverlight application
      3m 43s
    6. Understanding the startup process for an application
      3m 13s
    7. Understanding how users get Silverlight on their computers
      5m 10s
  4. 16m 59s
    1. Exploring the relationship between XAML and .NET
      3m 57s
    2. Using C#
      7m 16s
    3. Exploring the code-behind file
      5m 46s
  5. 43m 22s
    1. Working with XAML elements and Property attributes
      4m 56s
    2. Investigating XAML namespaces
      7m 31s
    3. Converting XAML properties with TypeConverters
      5m 1s
    4. Working with Property elements
      4m 24s
    5. Assigning runtime data with XAML markup extensions
      4m 21s
    6. Digging into the dependency property system
      6m 12s
    7. Creating a custom dependency property
      4m 42s
    8. Understanding attached properties
      6m 15s
  6. 9m 35s
    1. Debugging your code
      5m 17s
    2. Special Silverlight debugging techniques
      4m 18s
  7. 36m 0s
    1. Understanding layout
      4m 55s
    2. Using DockPanel and WrapPanel
      4m 2s
    3. Exploring sophisticated layouts with the Grid
      6m 40s
    4. Absolute positioning with the Canvas panel
      5m 20s
    5. Scrolling content with the ScrollViewer
      3m 28s
    6. Adjusting content alignment, margins, and sizing
      5m 6s
    7. Using the TabControl
      2m 17s
    8. Manipulating elements with transforms
      4m 12s
  8. 20m 32s
    1. Painting the user interface (UI) with SolidColorBrush
      6m 7s
    2. Getting colorful with gradient brushes
      3m 15s
    3. Decorating elements with ImageBrush
      4m 56s
    4. Creating effects with VideoBrush
      6m 14s
  9. 25m 42s
    1. Understanding routed events
      3m 12s
    2. Wiring up event handlers in Silverlight
      6m 4s
    3. Understanding event bubbling
      4m 39s
    4. Exploring mouse events
      7m 43s
    5. Exploring keyboard events
      4m 4s
  10. 32m 31s
    1. Displaying text on the screen
      3m 24s
    2. Gathering text input from the user
      5m 30s
    3. Showing complex text with RichTextBox
      6m 7s
    4. Understanding text overflow and text linking
      3m 14s
    5. Searching content with the AutoComplete type-ahead control
      6m 45s
    6. Using and embedding Silverlight fonts
      7m 31s
  11. 26m 47s
    1. Understanding content controls
      5m 7s
    2. Understanding button controls
      6m 16s
    3. Using the BusyIndicator
      4m 40s
    4. Showing tooltips
      4m 34s
    5. Changing content size with ViewBox
      1m 39s
    6. Exploring more controls
      4m 31s
  12. 55m 36s
    1. Connecting elements with binding
      9m 54s
    2. Using business data in a binding
      9m 21s
    3. Listing data with ItemsControls
      6m 39s
    4. Digging into the DataGrid
      8m 28s
    5. Using the DataForm
      3m 49s
    6. Storing data on the client
      7m 10s
    7. Debugging XAML bindings
      5m 41s
    8. Charting data
      4m 34s
  13. 24m 36s
    1. Creating an Out-of-Browser (OOB) application
      6m 16s
    2. Controlling aspects of an OOB application
      2m 49s
    3. Alerting the user with notification windows
      7m 13s
    4. Hosting HTML content in Silverlight applications
      8m 18s
  14. 30m 2s
    1. Exploring Silverlight trust levels
      3m 51s
    2. Creating an elevated trust application
      5m 57s
    3. Reaping the benefits of XAP signing
      6m 5s
    4. Making cross-domain calls
      5m 1s
    5. Getting started with COM Interop using the Speech API
      4m 21s
    6. Using COM Interop to interact with Microsoft Office
      4m 47s
  15. 16m 33s
    1. Showing child windows
      3m 48s
    2. Using a child window as a dialog window
      5m 7s
    3. Creating native windows
      2m 53s
    4. Maximizing a window with full screen mode
      4m 45s
  16. 13m 20s
    1. Dynamically loading UI content with user controls
      4m 46s
    2. Using the Navigation Framework
      8m 34s
  17. 9m 28s
    1. Using resource files
      3m 53s
    2. Using images in an application
      5m 35s
  18. 16m 32s
    1. Playing audio
      4m 27s
    2. Playing sound effects
      5m 4s
    3. Viewing video content with MediaElement
      4m 58s
    4. Changing video playback speed with TrickPlay
      2m 3s
  19. 14m 40s
    1. Capturing video with a web camera
      4m 16s
    2. Working with a microphone
      3m 47s
    3. Creating print output
      6m 37s
  20. 22m 35s
    1. Understanding Silverlight animations
      4m 35s
    2. Creating animations
      7m 52s
    3. Controlling animations
      4m 18s
    4. Simulating physics with animation easings
      5m 50s
  21. 27m 47s
    1. Placing XAML resources within a FrameworkElement
      6m 47s
    2. Centralizing settings in styles
      4m 8s
    3. Creating an alternate control UI with ControlTemplates
      6m 29s
    4. Dressing up your data with DataTemplates
      4m 33s
    5. Explaining the VisualStateManager: a simple way to manage control states
      5m 50s
  22. 10m 55s
    1. Handling global errors in a Silverlight application
      5m 46s
    2. Showing an application loading screen
      5m 9s
  23. 10m 48s
    1. Integrating with XNA
      7m 40s
    2. Exploring data analysis with PivotViewer
      3m 8s
  24. 1m 6s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 6s

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