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This is something I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but it kept slipping my mind. In Trowl, one of the features is that the “New Tweet” box will automatically shorten any URLs you copy and paste into it. It’s kind of a limited use case — I’m not sure how many apps out there need this ability — but I thought I’d post the code for anyone who might find it useful.

It also demonstrates a few things, like how to capture the “paste” event in .NET, how to create your own events and how to inherit from .NET’s base controls. So even if you don’t use the URL-shortening capability itself, perhaps it can be used for those things.

The code is relatively straightforward, so I’m not going to go through it line-by-line. But I’d be happy to answer any questions — just leave a comment! And, of course, I’m open to any suggestions :)



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Trowl 0.5.4

With my little vacation next week, I’m probably not going to be able to get a preview version of Trowl out before leaving.  So I thought I’d do a little tour of some of the things to expect in the new version.

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Trowl 0.5 Released!

I don’t normally make blog posts for new releases of Trowl, but I’m making an exception this time.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has used and contributed to Trowl. This is by no means a large project, but I’m still surprised by how many others like it, and use the program on a daily basis. I’m really happy that something I find useful is also useful to others! I’m incredibly appreciative of all the feedback I’ve received, especially to those of you who have helped me track down and fix bugs in the past. Trowl would not be where it is now without your support!

Second, I want to announce version 0.5. This version does not add much. As the changelog says:
* Adds support for oAuth. Trowl no longer accepts username and password for logging into Twitter. oAuth is the preferred, secure way of authenticating your account, and I’ve tried to make it as painless as possible. Any feedback is welcome!
* Twitter is changing the API for retrieving the list of friends at the end of October, so I’ve implemented that change now. Let me know if you have any problems seeing your friends list on the Settings screen.

Switching to oAuth is a relatively big change in the code, but luckily I’ve known that I wanted to do this for a while, so I was able to prepare for most of the impact in the 0.4.x versions.

While you shouldn’t see any difference in how Trowl works once you’ve authenticated your account, it will allow me to get to work quickly on the first new feature after 0.5: multiple accounts! I know several of you have asked for this, so it is now my top priority.

Thank you for your patience, and thank you again for continuing to use Trowl. :o) Remember that you can suggest new features or report bugs at any time at the Google Group.

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Does Usability Come From The Users?

I’ve been watching the development of Windows 7 pretty closely, mostly because Microsoft has been relatively forthcoming on their development of it via their Engineering Windows 7 blog. It was particularly interesting in the few months before the beta dropped, because they talked about certain aspects of Windows in the abstract — how critical the taskbar is to the OS, how many windows a typical user has open, etc. It was sort of a smattering of theory which you could only assume was being used by Microsoft to mold the next iteration of the OS — but you weren’t really sure.

Now that the beta has arrived, and talk of the RC is rampant, it is all too clear that they were definitely molding the next iteration — almost to a fault.

And so the question I’ve come to ask myself recently is: what is the best way to create a new feature? In Steven Sinofsky’s very strangely worded post recently, he puts it like this:

A quick story from years ago working on Office, many years ago before the development of telemetry and the internet deciding what features to put in a release of Office could really be best described as a battle. The battle took place in conference rooms where people would basically debate until one or more parties gave up from fatigue (mental or otherwise)—essentially adrenaline-based product development. […] Fast forward to the development of Windows 7 and we’re focused on using data to help inform decisions we make. This data takes many forms and helps in many ways. I know a lot of folks have questions about the data – is it representative, how does it help fix things people should be using but don’t, what about doing new things, and so on. Data is an important element of making decisions, but not a substitute for clear product goals, meaningful customer engagement, and working across the ecosystem to bring Windows 7 to customers.

I think the first part is very telling about why Microsoft has a reputation of creating illogical and painful UIs. Putting a bunch of software engineers — who aren’t exactly UI experts to begin with — in a box to fight over features & design is stupid.

But the second part begs the question, is using telemetry data to shape your features and UI any better?
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